Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Accommodation Bond Exemptions: more security for older Australians

Up to 3000 current aged care residents will receive more income support from 1 July this year and these new Howard Government changes will also benefit around 850 new aged care residents each year.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson today announced the exemption of accommodation bonds from the social security and Veterans’ Affairs assets tests. The legislation will be introduced into the House of Representatives tomorrow.

“The exemption will apply from 1 July 2005 to all lump sum bonds, until the bond is refunded to the person, their estate or when they leave aged care, regardless of when the bond was paid,” Senator Patterson said.

“This exemption will provide older Australians and their families with peace of mind about the security of pension entitlements when moving from home into residential aged care.

“It goes further to show the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting older Australians by providing the financial security to help them in what can be a difficult time moving from the family home into residential aged care.

“The Government will also assist aged care residents who pay their accommodation bond periodically.”

Residents who pay their accommodation bond by periodic payments will be able to rent out their former home, without the rental payments or the value of their former home affecting their rate of pension.

To ensure that no eligible aged care resident misses out, there will be special rules to allow backdating of claims for people who do not currently receive income support because of the value of their accommodation bond.

Backdating will be available where customers apply to Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for a payment prior to 30 September 2005 or, if they have special circumstances, to 30 June 2006.

Minister for Ageing, the Hon Julie Bishop and Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, the Hon De-anne Kelly have welcomed the announcement which will reassure older Australians that they can afford to access good quality care.