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OH in care home - financial position

in Over 50s MoneySaving
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PollycatPollycat Forumite
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Just a hypothetical question at this stage - I'm not sure if I should post this on the Benefits board or here:

My elderly Dad has been diagnosed with Dementia and is living at home, cared for mainly by Mum and my younger sister (who's getting Carer's Allowance) and extra help from me and Social Services who have done a 'care budget' for him and they're providing daily assistance with dressing etc as well as other services, such as twice-weekly visits to a Day Care centre and a weekly sitting service to allow a bit of free time for Mum.

It's been a big adjustment for all of us (especially as it happened pretty suddenly) but we're trying to make the best of it.

Neither Mum, my sister or me want Dad to go into permanent residental care, although we have used short-term residental care (a week) to give Mum a break and take her away on holiday.

The majority of the household income is actually in Dad's name (DLA, state pension, occupational pensions etc) and I've been wondering what would happen to that income if Dad did have to go into permanent residental care.

They have a small amount of savings, below the County Council limit to pay the full rate for care but over the Council limit to get HB & CTB so they are currently paying full rent & countil tax.

Would Dad's income (DLA, State Pension, occupational pensions) continue to be paid into their joint bank account or would some or all of this be taken to pay for the care home?

If Mum didn't have Dad's income to pay rent, council tax, electricity, water and phone bill she would be paying out much more than she would receive (reduced state pension only) and her tiny amount of savings would quickly disappear.

I do appreciate that should anything happen to Dad all his pensions would stop and when her savings drop to a certain level she'll qualify for HB, CTB etc.

I'm not wanting to get out of paying what is due but would just like to understand how Mum would be affected if this change should happen.
With Dad's illness, she's started to realise that she could be in trouble financially should circumstances change.

Although approaching 80, Mum's still sprighly and likes to meet friends & family and I'd hate to see Mum's quality of life be changed for the worst on top of this blow to Dad's health.

Thanks
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  • alanqalanq Forumite
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    Pollycat wrote: »

    The majority of the household income is actually in Dad's name (DLA, state pension, occupational pensions etc)...

    I do appreciate that should anything happen to Dad all his pensions would stop...

    Have you checked whether the occupational pension schemes provide (probably reduced) pensions for surviving spouses?
  • PollycatPollycat Forumite
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    alanq wrote: »
    Have you checked whether the occupational pension schemes provide (probably reduced) pensions for surviving spouses?

    Alan
    Thanks for the reply.
    I haven't as yet, but even if they do, it doesn't answer my question about Dad's pensions if he's alive but living in a care home.

    The pensions have been in place for quite a few years and are pretty small anyway so a reduced widow's pension would only be a few £s per week.

    She'd be entitled to reduced rate Council Tax (25% reduction).

    I think given the amount of her income if she were widowed, she's probably be entitled to Pension Credit too.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    If your Dad goes into a care home and he is not self-funding, all his pension will be taken apart from about £20 a week for personal spending.

    Your Mum would have her state pension and would then have to claim benefits in her own right. My parents had a lot of help from the Pensions Service. They sent an advisor out to the house and sorted everything out for them.

    As your Dad has dementia, he is not going to be able to manage his own affairs indefinitely. Does someone have Power of Attorney for him?

    It could be worth your Mum making the changes now and changing as many things as she can into her name - utility bills, any current benefit claims, etc. Are their bank accounts in joint names so that she can access them?
  • PollycatPollycat Forumite
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    Thanks for the reply.

    Nobody currently has POA for Dad, maybe this is something we should look at right now.

    Their current accounts and savings account are joint so no access problems there.

    Most bills are in Dad's name but paid by monthly DD from their current account.

    Dad does get the Savings element of Pension Credit, I'm not sure if that's because of his 2 small occupational pensions or their savings (or both) so I'm not sure if it will affect things if we try to claim in Mum's name instead.

    How hard this is!
  • Pollycat wrote: »
    Thanks for the reply.

    Nobody currently has POA for Dad, maybe this is something we should look at right now.

    Their current accounts and savings account are joint so no access problems there.

    Most bills are in Dad's name but paid by monthly DD from their current account.

    Dad does get the Savings element of Pension Credit, I'm not sure if that's because of his 2 small occupational pensions or their savings (or both) so I'm not sure if it will affect things if we try to claim in Mum's name instead.

    How hard this is!

    Very hard! and not usually helped by Social Services. Sorry to hear your news.

    In the first instance I suggest you look at www.counselandcare.org.uk they have a very good easy to read factsheet on paying for care homes and you can download online. Then if you have further questions they have a free helpline.

    You may also be able to get some information from your councils finance department on how their financial assessment works, if you can persuade any of them to talk to you. Certain benefits are ignored in the assessment. If your Dad is in receipt of Attendance allowance and council assisted this will cease 28days after going to a care home. It may also be worth you looking at NHS funded Continuing healthcare if your Dad has complex medical needs if you search "CHC" in these forums you will find a long thread about this funding. You would need to ask for an assessment if you think it relevant and this would be carried out by a team in the PCT (primary care trust) if you are in England or the Health Board if you are in Wales.
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    Pollycat wrote: »
    Most bills are in Dad's name but paid by monthly DD from their current account.

    It will be worth changing these because, if there are any queries about the bills, they will insist on only talking to the named person.
  • It would also be worth considering splitting the joint accounts then there will be no discussion about who has the savings when it comes to reassessing benefits. Your Mum is under no obligation to give the council information about her financial stautus when assistance for care home fees is assessed.

    When looking at care homes it is worth asking if they will take council assisted residents at the councils standard rates (normally one of 4 rates set by the council each year plus a possible nursing element) if the home does not accept these rates then the council may ask for a 3rd party top-up which cannot be paid by the resident if they are under the savings limit. The council can only ask for the top-up if they are able to find a home in the same area which will take the standard rate and has a place available, if they cannot find a place at their standard rate then they have to fund the top-up. The 4 rates relate to the level of care required and this is assessed by the social services.

    There has been much discussion recently as to whether the standard council rates allow care homes to function properly. A group of care homes in Wales recently took their council to court and the council were forced to increase their support rates. Southern Cross are also using this arguement but this probably is not a good example. It is, however, normal for care homes to charge self-funders more than council assisted residents for the same level of service. This is usually put down to the council having negotiated better rates with the home but IMHO it is more about the homes having to charge self-funders more in order to make some money.
  • PollycatPollycat Forumite
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    Thanks for the info, chaps, I'm a bit 'information-overload' at the moment. :eek:
    I've spent this morning sorting out their BT phone bill to save them some money and written a letter to Social Services on their behalf (i.e. whether they can use the surplus on their allocated budget on short-term residential respite etc etc).

    I'm going to check out the links and have a good think about what's best to do for them.

    I've got some reminders about things I need to do (check out any widow's pension entitlements etc) when I next pop up to see them.
  • anmarjanmarj Forumite
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    Pollycat wrote: »

    Dad does get the Savings element of Pension Credit, I'm not sure if that's because of his 2 small occupational pensions or their savings (or both) so I'm not sure if it will affect things if we try to claim in Mum's name instead.

    How hard this is!


    the pension credit at the present would be based on both their income and savings, if your dad went into care then the claim can be split ie the current claim in your dad's name and then your mum would have to apply for pension credit in her own right. Your dads entitlement would change but it does depend on a lot of factors if he would still be entitled to it. if the savings were in joint names when the claimed it would be halved.

    Some social workers often suggest that the person who has gone into care gives up half of their pension to the spouse - watch this, for Pension Credit it would be fully taken into account by the person getting it and the amount paid to spouse would be classed as spousal maintence for the other person, this means that if their income is too high for guaranteed credit, it could exlcude them from savings credit as the manitenance payment is not what is classed as a qualifiing income for that part of it.
  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    If your sister doesn't live at home, then your mum might well be entitled to the 25% reduction in Council Tax anyway.

    I say this, because when Dad died, I went into the council with a death certificate to get my Mum the 25% discount. The lady I saw asked very delicately whether Mum had all her marbles (not in those terms, but you get the gist). She said that if she didn't, and she lived alone, she'd have been exempt from CT.

    I haven't told Mum this, because she's a great one for saving money ...

    I suspect that the first thing would be getting PofA or getting someone appointed as his deputy. If your Dad has 'good times' when he could be said to understand what he'd be signing, then that will make life simpler. If you're past that stage, you need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy. Whichever you do, it will take time. If Dad can sign letters, then you may be able to get bills etc changed (and I've have no qualms about doing so), but if he doesn't know what he's signing then altering bank accounts could lead to difficulties.

    One more tip: if you google 'power of attorney' you get a lot of sites up which will want to charge you. Get your information and forms via the directgov site to begin with.
    Signature removed for peace of mind
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