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Chapter 4 - living arrangements


This chapter explains how personal and residential circumstances can affect service pension, social security age pension (paid by DVA) and income support supplement, and your obligations if you are receiving any of these payments:

Personal Circumstances

The term ‘personal circumstances’ refers to whether you are single or partnered (married or living in a de facto relationship).

Singles and couples pension rates

For service pension and age pension, there are two maximum rates:

  • the singles rate; and
  • the couples rate.

The maximum rate paid for each member of a couple is less than the maximum rate paid to a single person because couples can share household costs.

It is possible in special circumstances to pay the higher singles rate of pension to a partnered pensioner. This may apply, for example, where the other partner is unable or is prohibited from working, is not eligible for a pension or benefit from DVA or from Centrelink, and there is financial difficulty as a result of the couple's circumstances.

A war widow(er) receiving income support supplement (ISS), whether single or a member of a couple, has one maximum rate of ISS (the ceiling rate).

Details of the current rates of pensions and allowances are available from your nearest DVA office.

See Factsheet:

If you are single, widow(er)ed or divorced

If you are single, widow(er)ed or divorced, you can be paid the singles rate if you are not living in a de facto relationship.

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If you are married

If you are legally married and living with your partner, you can be paid the couples rate.

If you are married and have to live separately because one or both of you are too frail or ill (including mental illness) to stay at home and the separation, you will each be paid at the singles rate. Let us know as soon as possible that you are living apart because of ill health so that we can increase your pension promptly. If you or your partner have been admitted into an approved residential aged care facility, (previously known as hostel or nursing home), on a permanent basis you are considered to be living apart because of your health. As these are not the only circumstances in which you may be entitled to the single rate of pension, contact your nearest DVA office if you are unsure whether you meet the criteria.

If you are married and living separately because either you or your partner have been assessed as requiring respite care and it is for at least 14 consecutive days, you may be paid at the singles rate. For payment to be made at the singles rate you need to let us know within 3 months of you or your partner entering approved respite care.

If you are the veteran and separated from your spouse for reasons other than illness and you do not enter another relationship, you will be paid at the singles rate.

If you were married to a veteran from whom you have separated and you have not entered into another relationship, you will be paid at the singles rate but lose your eligibility for a partner service pension 12 months after separation unless:

  • you are Centrelink age pension age or
  • special domestic circumstances apply

Special domestic circumstances are where:

  • the veteran has a psychological or mental health condition recognised by DVA and
  • there was an unsafe or abusive domestic environment in respect of you or your family prior to separation and
  • you and the veteran live apart and in separate residences.

An unsafe or abusive domestic environment means there was conduct, whether actual or threatened, by the veteran that caused you and/or your children to fear for your personal well-being or safety.

For information about consideration under special domestic circumstances, please contact a DVA office.

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If you were married to a veteran from whom you have separated and you enter into another relationship, you immediately lose your eligibility for a partner service pension. You will need to find alternative income support or apply to Centrelink for a pension unless you enter into a new relationship with another eligible veteran. In this instance you may again be eligible for a partner service pension and should contact a DVA office.

If you are married to a veteran and divorce, you immediately lose your eligibility for a partner service pension. You will need to apply to Centrelink for a pension.

If you are a widow or widower of a veteran (but not a war widow or widower) and you remarry or enter a de facto relationship, you immediately lose your eligibility for a partner service pension. You will need to find alternative income support or apply to Centrelink for a pension.

If you are in a de facto relationship

If you are in a de facto relationship and live with your partner you can be paid the couples rate.

A de facto relationship is where two people who are not married are living together (or usually live together) and are members of a couple. A de facto relationship can be between people of the same-sex or opposite-sex.

You are considered to be a de facto partner if your relationship is registered under certain prescribed State and Territory laws that provide for registration of relationships. If your relationship is not registered, some of the factors we consider when deciding whether two people are living in a de facto relationship are whether you:

  • think of yourselves as a couple;
  • share financial and household responsibilities;
  • undertake joint social or leisure activities;
  • appear as a couple to the general community.

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If you have a de facto relationship and do not live with your partner it is important to note:

  • if you separate for personal reasons, the veteran retains the service pension but the partner loses eligibility and will need to find alternative income support or apply for a Centrelink pension.
  • if you and your partner have to separate because one or both of you is too frail or ill (including mental illness) to stay at home and the separation is likely to continue indefinitely, you will both be paid at the singles rate. Let us know as soon as possible that you are living apart because of ill health so that we can increase your pension promptly.
  • if you or your partner have been assessed as requiring respite care and it is for at least 14 consecutive days you may both be paid the singles rate. Let us know within 3 months that you or your partner have entered approved respite care for payment to be made at the singles rate.

War widows and widowers receiving the income support supplement

If you remarry or enter a de facto relationship, the rate of your income support supplement may be affected by your new partner's income and assets.

Obligations in relation to personal circumstances

You need to tell us if:

  • you marry or remarry;
  • you enter a de facto relationship;
  • you separate from your partner;
  • you reconcile with your partner or commence living on the same property as a separated partner;
  • you and your partner have to live apart because of illness or infirmity; or
  • you and your partner divorce.

If your partner dies it is best to notify DVA as soon as possible. Telling us as soon as possible will avoid the possibility of any overpayment and allow us to make a bereavement payment in some cases.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of any of the above events.

Social security age pensioners (paid by DVA) have the same obligations except that if you receive remote area allowance you need to tell us within 14 days of the event not 28 days. If your partner dies you need to tell us within 28 days.

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Residential circumstances

This section explains how different residential circumstances can affect your income support pension and what happens when you change where you live.

The term ‘residential circumstances’ refers to whether:

If you own your home

You are considered to be a home owner if:

  • you own or are paying off a mortgage on your home; or
  • you have paid for a right or interest and have security of tenure and your contribution is above a specified limit (refer to 'Granny Flats' below); or
  • your entry contribution for retirement village accommodation is above a specified limit.

(Refer to the situations listed in this chapter for examples of where you would be considered to be a home owner).

See Factsheet:

Assets test - If you own your home, and live in it, the value of your home is not counted as an asset. (See How the assets test works in Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets for more information about assets value limits.)

Mobile and relocatable homes and caravans - If your principal home is a caravan, mobile home or a house boat and you have security of tenure you are considered to be a home owner and the value of your home is not counted under the assets test. You may also be eligible for rent assistance if you pay site or mooring fees.

Granny flats - If you live in accommodation where you have the right to the accommodation for life or a life interest in another person’s private home, the ‘granny flat’ rules may apply. Some examples of granny flat accommodation are where:

  • the title of your principal residence has been transferred to a relative but you have retained the right to live there for the rest of your life; or
  • you have provided funds to build a granny flat on a relative’s property and have the right to live there for the rest of your life; or
  • you provide some or all of the funds used to purchase a property registered in a relative’s name but where you have the right to live for the rest of your life.

Generally this type of accommodation is arranged with a relative but could also be with a friend. If you have no formal agreement, a statement by the relative or friend who has provided this type of accommodation will be accepted as proof of your right to the accommodation.

If you live in granny flat accommodation, you may still be classified as a home owner depending on the amount you have paid to secure your accommodation. In some circumstances it may be necessary to apply a test to see if the amount paid is ‘reasonable’. This is referred to as the Reasonableness Test. If you have transferred the title of your home or your contribution is in excess of the construction costs, the test may be applied. For further information you should contact your nearest DVA office.

If you vacate your granny flat within five years, the reasons for leaving your granny flat will be reviewed by DVA, to determine whether you received a genuine accommodation life interest in the property. If it is found that there was not a genuine intent to remain living in the granny flat, the asset value that you provided for the granny flat may be found to be a gift and the deprivation rules will apply.

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Retirement village - If you live in a retirement village, you may still be classified as a home owner depending on the amount of entry contribution you paid. The cost of entering a retirement village varies and depends on the facilities and services offered. Any eligibility for rent assistance is based on the amount of your entry contribution and whether it is below a specified amount i.e. the "extra allowable amount" at the time you enter into your contract with the retirement village. There are some examples later in this chapter which provide more information about the rules regarding home ownership and entry contribution.

The extra allowable amount is the difference in assets that a non-home owner can have compared to a home owner before their pensions start to reduce under the assets test. If you enter into a contract with a retirement village on or after 1 January 2017, you may be eligible for rent assistance if you pay below $200,000 as an entry contribution.

In care - If you own your home and move to an in care situation, your former home is not included in your pension assessment for up to 2 years. You are considered to be in care, if you are an aged care resident (residing in an approved aged care facility); including nursing home type care in a hospital, respite care and residence in a facility principally for persons with a mental disability. There is more information later in this chapter about moving into an aged care facility and respite care.

You are also considered to be in a care situation if you are receiving community based care. Generally, this type of accommodation is where you remain in your home and receive a substantial level of care from a relative or friend. If you are the relative or friend who has left your own home to provide community-based care, your former home is exempt for up to 2 years. If you are the care receiver, the exemption also applies where you move into the relative or friend's private residence to receive substantial care.

You may be eligible for rent assistance if you are required to pay rent while in a care situation even though you still own a home unless you are a resident of an approved residential aged care facility.

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Obligations in relation to being a home owner

You need to tell us if you own your home and

  • you sell your home;
  • you start to pay rent or board and lodgings in other accommodation;
  • you leave your home for any reason to live elsewhere;
  • you rent part of your home ;
  • you take in boarders or lodgers;
  • you transfer title to your home to someone else; or
  • you leave your home for any period exceeding 12 months.

You need to tell us if you have sold your home; or have temporarily vacated your home due to loss or damage (and the proceeds that you received from the home sale or home insurance have been exempted as an asset) and:

  • your intentions to use the sale or insurance proceeds to buy or build a new home have changed;
  • you have bought or built a new home;
  • your intentions to use the insurance proceeds to repair or rebuild your lost or damaged home have changed; or
  • you have repaired or rebuilt your home.

You need to tell us if you live in a retirement village and:

  • you intend leaving the retirement village for more than 12 months;
  • you move from one type of accommodation to another within the retirement village (for example, from self-care accommodation to residential aged care places);
  • you sign a new agreement or contract in the retirement village; or
  • there are any changes to the service fees.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes.

For social security age pensioners (paid by DVA), you have 14 days to notify of changes. This is whether or not you receive remote area allowance.

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If you own your home and your situation changes

Use the following information as a guide to how your pension would be affected.

Situation 1 - Sell your home to buy or build another home

If you own your own home and decide to sell your home and buy or build another home to live in, then this becomes your new principal residence. The amount of the proceeds from the sale of your former home that will be used to buy or build another home to live in are exempt under the assets test, until you buy or build your new home, for a period of up to 12 months. Until the sale proceeds are used they will be deemed to be earning income. Until your new home is acquired, you may be eligible for rent assistance as a temporary renter. If you are experiencing delays beyond your control in acquiring a new home, the asset exemption may be extended for up to an additional 12 months.

Situation 2 - Sell your home and rent another home

If you own your home and decide to sell your home and rent (with no intention of buying another home) then the proceeds from the sale of your home are counted as an asset and are deemed for pension purposes. You may be eligible for rent assistance. (See What is deeming? in Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets.)

Situation 3 - Sell your home and move in with family or friends

If you own your own home and decide to sell your home and move in with family or friends (with no intention of buying another home) then the proceeds from the sale of your home are counted as an asset and are deemed for pension purposes. If you pay rent or board, then you may be eligible for rent assistance.

Situation 4 - Sell your home and move into a retirement village

If you own your home and decide to sell your home and move into a self-care retirement village then if you pay $200,000* or less (or do not pay any) entry contribution then the amount you pay is counted as an asset and you may be eligible for rent assistance for the service fees you pay. (You are not considered to be a home owner).

If you pay more than $200,000 as an entry contribution, you are considered to be a home owner and the amount you pay is not counted as an asset. You will not be eligible for rent assistance for the service fees you pay.

Any excess proceeds from the sale of your home are counted as an asset and are deemed for pension purposes.

*Your eligibility for rent assistance is based on the "extra allowable amount" current at the time you enter into your contract with the retirement village.

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Situation 5 - Move to community based care without selling your previous home

If you own your home and decide to move but not sell your home and move into community based care such as with family or friends because you need to receive a substantial level of care then your former home can continue to be regarded as your home and you can continue to be regarded as a home owner for up to 2 years.

If you rent out your former home, the rent is counted as income for pension purposes. (See Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets, under real estate and rental income for details of how rental income is counted for pension purposes). If you are paying rent or board for your community based care, contact your nearest DVA office for more information about any rent assistance available.

Situation 6 - Move into a retirement village before selling your home

If you own your own home and decide to sell your home at a later date or there is a delay in selling and in the meantime you move into a self-care retirement village, then if you pay $200,000* or less (or do not pay any) entry contribution then the amount you pay is counted as an asset and you may be eligible for rent assistance for the service fees you pay. (You are not considered to be a home owner).

If you pay more than $200,000 as an entry contribution you are considered to be a home owner and the amount you pay is not counted as an asset. You will not be eligible for rent assistance for the service fees you pay.

*Your eligibility for rent assistance is based on the "extra allowable amount" current at the time you enter into your contract with the retirement village.

Note: Your former home will be counted as an asset for pension purposes.

Situation 7 - Move into another home before selling your previous home

If you own your own home and decide to move and there is a delay in selling your home and you move into the home you are purchasing then your former home will become assessable under the asset test and the home you are living in will become your principal home and is therefore not counted as an asset. If your former home is rented then the rent is counted as income for pension purposes.

Any loan you may have taken out to purchase your new home will only be deducted from the asset value of your former home if the loan is secured against the former home; and the former home is no longer an exempt asset.

Situation 8 - Move in with family or friends without selling your previous home

If you own your own home and decide to move, but do not sell your home and move in with family or friends (with no intention of buying another home) and not receiving care, then your home is counted as an asset for pension purposes. If it is rented then the rent is counted as income for pension purposes. (See Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets, under real estate and rental income for details of how rental income is counted for pension purposes). If you pay rent or board, you may be eligible for rent assistance.

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Situation 9 – Stay in your home and buy another property

If you own your own home and decide to stay in your home and buy another home as an investment, then the investment home is counted as an asset for pension purposes. If you take out a mortgage to purchase the investment property the mortgage will only be used as a deduction or part deduction from the amount secured against the investment property. If it is rented, the rent is counted as income for pension purposes.

Situation 10 – Leave your home intending to return within 12 months

If you own your own home and decide to temporarily leave your home and you intend to return to your home within 12 months, then you continue to be regarded as a home owner for up to 12 months. If your home is rented while you are absent from it, the rent is counted as income for pension purposes.

Situation 11 – Leave your home because it was damaged or destroyed

If you own your own home and decide to temporarily leave your home because it was lost or damaged (including by a disaster) and you intend to repair or rebuild your existing home; or buy or build a new home, then you continue to be regarded as a home owner for up to 12 months. If your former home is uninhabitable, you may be eligible for rent assistance as a temporary renter.

The amount of compensation or insurance proceeds that you intend to use to repair, rebuild, buy or build your home to live in are exempt under the assets test, until your home is completed, for a period of up to 12 months.

If you are experiencing delays beyond your control in acquiring your home, the asset exemption may be extended for up to an additional 12 months.

Note: If you take out a mortgage when purchasing another property or a bridging loan, the loan can only be used as a deduction against the property it is secured against. If the loan is secured against your principal home which is exempt from the assets test, the loan cannot be used as a deduction under any circumstances.

Note: There may be changes to your residential circumstances that vary from the above situations. For example family members may come to live with you in your home or you may sell your home and move in with them. This may involve a change in the title of the home.

You should contact your nearest DVA office to discuss your particular circumstances and check how these changes may affect your pension.

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If you pay rent for your accommodation

Assets test - If you do not own your home, the value of the assets you can have before your pension is reduced below the maximum rate is greater than for someone who owns their home. (See How the assets test works in Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets for more information about assets value limits).

Rent assistance - If you do not own your home and are paying rent, you may be eligible for rent assistance. (See Chapter 6 - Benefits and Services).

See Factsheet:

If you pay rent and your situation changes

Use the following information as a guide to how your pension would be affected.

Situation 12 – Rent and then buy a home

If you rent and decide to move and buy a home to live in, then the home that you buy becomes your principal residence and is therefore not counted as an asset. If you have been receiving rent assistance, you are no longer eligible for rent assistance.

Situation 13 – Rent and move to a different home

If you rent and decide to move and rent somewhere else, then depending on the amount of rent you pay, and provided the rent is not to a government authority, you may be eligible for rent assistance.

Situation 14 – Rent and then move in with family or friends

If you rent and decide to move and move in with family or friends, then if you pay rent or board, you may be eligible for rent assistance.

Situation 15 – Rent and then move into a retirement village

If you rent and decide to move and move into a self-care retirement village, then if you pay $200,000* or less entry contribution then the amount you pay is counted as an asset and you may be eligible for rent assistance for the service fees you pay. (You are not considered a home owner).

If you do not pay an entry contribution you may be eligible for rent assistance for the service fees you pay. (You are not considered to be a home owner).

If you pay more than $200,000 as an entry contribution, you are considered to be a home owner and the amount you pay is not counted as an asset. You will not be eligible for rent assistance for the service fees you pay.

*Your eligibility for rent assistance is based on the "extra allowable amount" current at the time you enter into your contract with the retirement village.

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Obligations in relation to rent and rent assistance

You need to tell us if you pay rent for your accommodation and receive rent assistance and

  • the amount of rent you pay changes;
  • you stop paying rent;
  • you start paying rent to a government housing authority;
  • you move into a retirement village or other living arrangements;
  • you enter respite or aged care; or
  • you leave Australia temporarily or permanently.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes.
For social security age pensioners (paid by DVA), you have 14 days to notify of changes. This is whether or not you receive remote area allowance.

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Moving into independent living units (retirement village)

An Independent Living Unit is an accommodation unit designed for independent people who do not require assistance with day-to-day living.

If you are a couple and move into this type of accommodation because one or both of you is too frail or ill to stay at home and the situation is likely to continue indefinitely you will each be paid the singles rate. If your move to this type of accommodation is not because one or both of you is too frail or ill to stay at home, you will continue to be paid the couples rate.

Moving into residential aged care (or accessing home care)

The Australian Government subsidises different types of aged care services to help you stay as independent as you can, including living in your own home. To access Government subsidised aged care, your care needs will need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). The Team may include a doctor or other health professional who specialises in aged care. They will recommend the type of aged care services that are the most appropriate for you.

You or your doctor can arrange for a free ACAT assessment by phoning the My Aged Care information line on FreeCall™ 1800 200 422.

Types of Aged Care

  • Residential Aged Care
    Residential aged care services provide accommodation and support for people who can no longer live at home. More information is included in this chapter.
  • Home Care Packages
    The Home Care Packages Program provides care services to people in their own home.
    More information is included in this chapter.
    Home Care Packages are different from the services offered under Veterans Home Care (VHC). Eligible veterans and war widows/widowers can be assessed for services available under the VHC program.
    Information about VHC can be found in Chapter 6.
  • Respite care
    Respite care provides relief for a carer who has responsibility for the ongoing care and support of a person who is in ill health and disabled. More information is included in this chapter and Chapter 7 - Your Health.

Residential aged care costs

As a permanent aged care resident who enters care on or after 1 July 2014, you may need to pay a basic fee, a means tested care fee, a payment for accommodation costs and fees for any extra services. Annual and lifetime caps apply to some aged care costs.

Note: Continuing care residents (pre 1 July 2014 residents) will continue to pay the costs using the old fee arrangement. You can ask to be assessed under the new rules if you move to a new provider. If you leave care for more than 28 days (other than approved leave) and then re-enter care, you will be assessed under the new rules. For more information, contact MyAgedCare on FreeCall™ 1800 200 422 or speak to your provider.

Basic Daily Fee (85% of maximum single rate pension)
[for all residents]
+
Means Tested Care Fee
[if you have sufficient income and assets]
+
Payment for Accommodation (payment or contribution)
[if you have sufficient income and assets]
+
Extra Service Fee
[if you are receiving care on an extra service basis
or you choose to purchase extra amenities ]

A basic fee covers living costs such as meals, power and laundry. All residents pay the basic fee. The maximum basic fee for all aged care residents is 85% of the basic Age Pension amount calculated at a daily rate.

Note: DVA pays the basic fee for all Australian former prisoners of war and Victoria Cross recipients.

A means tested care fee is an additional contribution towards the costs of your care that some people may be required to pay if they have sufficient income and assets. This fee is based on an assessment of your income and assets, and is the lower amount of the following:

  • the amount you are assessed as being able to contribute based on your income and assets, or
  • the cost of your care.

Some income and assets are assessed differently for aged care purposes than they would be for income support purposes. For example, people who are considered to be blind for income support pension purposes are not exempt for aged care means testing purposes.

Note: Former Australian prisoners of war and Victoria Cross recipients are exempt from paying the means tested care fee.

An accommodation payment or contribution is payable if you have sufficient income and assets.

If you are not eligible for Government assistance with your accommodation costs, you will need to agree on an accommodation payment with the aged care home.

If you are eligible for some Government assistance with your accommodation costs you can be asked to make an accommodation contribution.

You can choose to pay your accommodation payment or accommodation contribution as a refundable lump sum, an equivalent daily payment, or a combination of both.

If you do not have sufficient income and assets to pay for your accommodation costs, you will have the costs paid in full by the Government.

An extra service fee is paid by residents receiving a higher standard of accommodation or additional services. Your aged care provider can give you details of the services available and the fees that apply.

Residential aged care means test assessments

As of 1 July 2014 the means test assessments for aged care will include both income and assets. DVA and Centrelink conduct aged care income and assets assessments to determine how much subsidy the Government pays to the provider on your behalf (if you are eligible for Government assistance) and whether you can be asked to contribute towards your aged care costs.

It is not compulsory to have an aged care means test assessment but if you do not have one, you may be asked to pay the maximum fees.

If you are a member of a couple, half of the combined income and assets owned by you or your partner are taken into account for the assessment.

Assessment of the former home

Your home will be counted as an asset for aged care purposes, up to a capped amount, unless it is occupied by a protected person including:

  • a partner or dependent child;
  • a carer who has lived with you in the home for the past 2 years and is eligible to receive an income support payment; or
  • a close relative who has lived with you in the home for the past 5 years and is eligible for an income support payment.

If the person who is occupying your home moves out, your home may no longer be exempt from the aged care means test and will be assessable (up to a capped amount).

For more information on what are assessable income and assets for aged care purposes, see Factsheet:

Read more about aged care means test assessments on the MyAgedCare website or call the My Aged Care information line on FreeCall™ 1800 200 422.

How entering residential aged care may affect your Income Support payment

If you receive an income support payment, you need to let us know within 14 days if you move into residential aged care or if you sell or rent out your home. Changes in your circumstances may affect your rate of payment as well as the aged care fees you can be asked to pay.

If you or your partner have been admitted to residential aged care on a permanent basis, you are considered to be living apart because of your health. For partnered pensioners who have to live separately because one or both of you is too frail or ill to stay at home and the separation is likely to continue indefinitely, you will each be paid pension at the higher singles rate.

If you own your home, it is exempt for pension purposes for 2 years after you leave it to enter residential aged care. If you have a partner who remains in the home, it is exempt for as long as they live in the home. If your partner leaves the home to enter care, the two year exemption for pension purposes will apply from the date they leave the home.

Once the 2 year exemption period has ended, the value of your former home will normally be counted as an asset for pension purposes and will be included in the pension assets test and this can affect the rate of your pension.

An extended exemption may apply if you rent out your former home and are paying either an accommodation payment or contribution by periodic payments. In this situation:

  • the rental income from your former home is exempt from the pension income test if you enter care before 1 January 2017
  • the rental income from your former home is exempt from the aged care means test if you entered care before 1 January 2016, and
  • the value of your former home is exempt from the pension assets test if you enter care before 1 January 2017.

Rent Assistance is not usually paid to aged care residents.

For more information about aged care and your income support pension, see Factsheet:

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If you are moving into an Australian Government subsidised residential care facility

Use the following information as a guide to how your pension would be affected.

Situation 16 – Move into aged care after selling your home

If you own your own home and decide to sell your home and move into an Australian Government-subsidised residential aged care facility, then the proceeds from the sale of your home are counted as an asset and are deemed for pension purposes.

Situation 17 – Move into aged care and keep your home

If you own your own home and decide to move, but do not sell your home and move into an Australian Government-subsidised residential aged care facility, then the value of your former home will not be counted as an asset for pension purposes for:

  • up to 2 years if you are single; or
  • as long as your partner remains in the home and for 2 years from the day your partner who remains in the home moves into aged care or passes away.

At the end of the exemption period, the value of your former home will count as an asset and depending on the current market value could affect the rate of your pension.

Note: If your partner vacates the home for any other reason you should contact your nearest DVA office. If you and your partner are both in residential aged care, you may wish to contact your nearest DVA office to find out which exemption applies. 

Situation 18 – Move into aged care, keep your home and rent it out

If you rent out your home when you are residing in an Australian Government-subsidised residential aged care facility then the income you receive from rent will generally be assessed for pension income testing purposes and for aged care means test purposes.

If you rent out your home and you are paying (or you have a liability to pay):

  • a daily accommodation payment,
  • a daily accommodation contribution,
  • an accommodation charge, or
  • all or part of an accommodation bond by periodic payment,

then:

  • the value of your former home is not counted as an asset for pension assessment if you enter care before 1 January 2017,
  • any rental income received from your home is not counted as income for pension assessment purposes if you enter care before 1 January 2017, and
  • if you entered aged care before 1 January 2016, any rental income received from your home is not counted as income for aged care means testing purposes,
  • if you enter aged care on or after 1 January 2016, any rental income received from your home will be counted as income for aged care means testing purposes.

Note: If your accommodation costs were paid by lump sum payment only, no rental income exemption can apply for pension or aged care purposes. Any rent you receive from your home will be counted as income for pension and aged care purposes. The value of your home will not be counted for up to 2 years for pension purposes.

Situation 19 – Rent and then move into aged care

If you rent and move into an Australian Government subsidised residential care facility then as an aged care resident, you will no longer be eligible for rent assistance.

Note: If your partner is still paying rent (other than government rent), then their rent assistance may be adjusted. Your partner will be eligible for rent assistance at the singles rate. You will need to tell DVA if the amount of rent your partner pays has changed.

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Obligations in relation to Residential Care

If you are an aged care resident or in a care situation, and still considered to be a home owner, you need to tell us if:

  • you sell your home;
  • you rent or sublet your home; or
  • you raise finance on your home where you convert the equity in your home into cash without you having to vacate the house. You need to tell us each time you receive a payment.

(For a period of two years, you are still considered to be a home owner if you continue to own the property formerly regarded as your family home.)

If you are in residential care and continue to pay a daily accommodation payment, a daily accommodation contribution, an accommodation charge or all or part of an accommodation bond by periodic payments and you rent your former home, you need to tell us if:

  • you depart care;
  • you stop paying a daily accommodation payment or contribution;
  • you stop paying an accommodation charge;
  • you stop paying periodic accommodation bond payments; or
  • you cease renting or trying to rent the former home.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes.

For social security age pensioners (paid by DVA), you have 14 days to notify of changes. This is whether or not you receive remote area allowance.

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Home care

The Home Care Packages Program provides aged care services to people in their own home. If you take up a Home Care Package on or after 1 July 2014, your service provider may ask you to pay:

  • a basic daily fee, and
  • an income tested care fee

The basic fee for home care is 85% of the basic Age Pension amount calculated at a daily rate.

Note: DVA pays the basic fee for all Australian former prisoners of war and Victoria Cross recipients.

The income tested care fee is payable if you have sufficient income. Annual and lifetime caps apply to the income tested care fee.

Note: DVA will pay the income tested care fees for Australian former prisoners of war and Victoria Cross recipients, if they are liable to pay one.

Home care recipients who receive a means tested income support payment, such as service pension, income support supplement, or social security age pension, will have the income details from their pension assessment used to determine their home care income tested fee.

Self- funded retirees or persons not receiving a means tested income support payment will need to apply to have an income assessment, otherwise they may be asked to pay the maximum income tested care fee.

For aged care purposes, income is assessed in the same way as for pension purposes and each member of a couple is considered to have half the combined income of both partners.

People who are considered to be blind for pension purposes are not exempt for home care income assessment purposes.

For more information about what is assessable income, see Factsheet:

You can also refer to the MyAgedCare website or call the My Aged Care information line FreeCall™ 1800 200 422.

Special provisions for the veteran community

Australian ex-prisoners of war and Victoria Cross recipients - DVA will pay the standard basic fee on behalf of Australian ex-prisoners of war and Victoria Cross recipients in residential aged care and home care. They are also exempt from paying the  means tested care fees in residential aged care and DVA will pay the income tested fee, if applicable, on their behalf for home care. They may be required to pay an accommodation payment and if applicable any extra service fees that may apply to their residential care.

Veterans with qualifying service and receiving a disability pension.
Your disability pension is not counted as income by the aged care means test.

Note: For more information about residential aged care, contact MyAgedCare on FreeCall™ 1800 200 422

What is respite care?

Respite care provides relief for a carer who has responsibility for the ongoing care and support of a person who is in ill health or disabled. If you are a carer and you need a break, the person you are looking after will be cared for while you are away. If you are the person being cared for, you will be looked after while your carer takes a break.

If you are receiving an income support pension at the couples rate and are assessed as needing respite care, it is for at least 14 consecutive days and the respite care is in an approved institution, you may be able to receive the single rate of pension. You should notify your nearest DVA office that respite care has been approved. Payment at the singles rate can be made as long as you tell us within 3 months from the date approved respite care commenced.

Refer also to Chapter 7 - Your health for additional information about respite care.

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If you live in a remote area

If you live in a remote area of Australia and you receive an income support pension, you may be eligible for a remote area allowance. The allowance is paid in addition to your income support pension and is not subject to the income or assets test. To qualify, your permanent residence must be in a remote area as defined by the Australian Taxation Office. You may remain eligible for a remote area allowance for up to eight weeks while you are temporarily absent from the remote area, even if you are overseas.

The current fortnightly rates of the Remote Area Allowance are:

  • Couples - $15.60 each person
  • Singles - $18.20
  • Children - $7.30 each

Obligations if you receive Remote Area Allowance

You need to tell us if:

  • you or your child are absent from your permanent address for more than 8 weeks;
  • you move from your present address;
  • you or your child goes overseas;
  • your child ceases to be a Family Tax Benefit child; or
  • your child dies.

You need to tell us within 28 days of the event.

Social security age pensioners (paid by DVA) need to tell us within 14 days of the above events, not 28 days.

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If you move interstate

Your pension - You need to tell DVA in the State you are leaving of your change of address. If your move is to be permanent, we will transfer your pension payment to your new State. This can take a few weeks to finalise but we will continue to pay your pension into your bank account. If you change your bank account, keep your old account open until your pension is being paid into the new account.

Your health care - You can use your Gold or White Card in the new State and when payment of your pension has been transferred, a new card (with your new file number on it) will be sent to you.

Your concessions -You will not be able to use your Pensioner Concession Card interstate so a new card will be issued as soon as your pension payment is transferred. If you need a new card before your pension is transferred, contact your nearest DVA office.

Obligations in relation to moving interstate

You need to tell us:

  • your new address;
  • what your new residential situation will be (e.g. renting, buying a new house);
  • when you are moving;
  • whether you have had significant changes to your income and assets as a result of moving;
  • you no longer pay rent;
  • you start to pay rent; or
  • you invest the proceeds from the sale of your home.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes.
For social security age pensioners (paid by DVA), you have 14 days to notify of changes. This is whether or not you receive remote area allowance.

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If you travel or move overseas

Is your pension payable overseas?
Generally speaking, we can continue to pay your pension while you are overseas.

For information about how your payment is made to an overseas account refer to Chapter 10 - Payment of Pensions.

What benefits are not payable overseas?

If you move overseas permanently, the following payments will cease immediately after departure from Australia:

  • Non taxable components of the Pension Supplement
  • Veterans Supplement
  • Rent Assistance.

The taxable component of the Pension Supplement still continues to be payable with the Service Pension.

If you are only travelling overseas temporarily:

  • Non-taxable components of the Pension Supplement continue for 6 weeks after departure from Australia
  • Veterans Supplement, Rent Assistance continue for 26 weeks after departure from Australia
  • Remote area allowance continues for 8 weeks after departure from the remote area.

When you return to Australia, and advise DVA of your return, your payments will recommence.

Note: Contact your nearest DVA office if you intend travelling. There is a form available when travelling overseas (D0578 - Notification of Overseas Travel). Alternatively you can use your MyAccount service to notify DVA of your intention to travel.

For information about health care overseas refer to Chapter 7- Your health .

Obligations in relation to travelling

You need to tell us if:

  • you are travelling overseas even if only for a short time.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes.
For social security age pensioners (paid by DVA), you have 14 days to notify of changes. This is whether or not you receive remote area allowance.

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