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This is a complex and specialist area covering the circumstances in which individuals can qualify for assistance from the government to pay for the not inconsiderable rest home fees that can be involved where a person is living in a rest home or indeed receiving constant hospital care in the hospital wing of a rest home.

While there are existing policies which determine eligibility, one has to have an open mind to the fact that with the ageing population and the increased number of people going into home or hospital care there are going to be financial issues of affordability in the future which have not yet been fully canvassed. Therefore, while this article endeavours to state the government policies, these are only the policies in existence at this point in time and will almost certainly change in the future.

People who:
 Don’t have a partner, or
 Have a partner who is in long term residential care.
– Must have combined total assets valued at $239,930 or less to qualify.

People who:
 Have a partner who is not in care can choose a threshold of:
– Combined total assets of $131,391 not including the value of their house and car, or
– Combined total assets of $239,930 which will include the value of their house and car.

Please note: asset thresholds are adjusted at 1 July each year with the next adjustment due 1 July 2022 and that the house is only exempt from the financial means assessment when it is the principal place of residence of the partner who is not in care or there is a dependent child.

As a person cannot apply until they meet the criteria tests mentioned above, it is important to keep a close eye on the asset total in either category to ensure that an application is made at the correct time and the Funeral Trust established if considered appropriate. If the application is not made soon enough then the WINZ subsidy cannot be backdated. So for example, if it was left until the assets in the second case totalled $100,000.00 and even though the threshold was then (say) $200,000, WINZ would only start paying from the point that the application had been made; they would not make any compensation for the money that had been spent between $200,000.00 and $100,000.00.

WINZ are very well informed about the role of trusts in the lives of many people applying for a rest home subsidy. They will scrutinise very carefully the history of any trust including in particular the reasons for setting up the trust. If they consider the reasons were valid then the trust assets may be excluded from personal assets but WINZ may still look to any income that the trust is earning as a contribution towards rest home payments. This is very important to understand as many people set up trusts because it was then customary to do so and they may not now be the panacea they were initially thought to be in this context.