Families missing out on care fees funding says lawyer

A leading firm of lawyers has said families could be missing out on tens of thousands of pounds in care fees for elderly relatives.

Black Country based Higgs & Sons is also highlighting the chance for families to claim back money already paid out for the care of loved ones who have since died.

Philip Martin-Summers, a partner at Higgs & Sons which has offices in Kingswinford and Brierley Hill, said: “Many people are not aware of a type of care fees funding known as ‘continuing healthcare’. Essentially it is a package of care that is funded solely by the NHS.

“What is even less known is that if a relative has passed away, you may still be able to make a claim to be reimbursed for any care fees that were paid out during their lifetime.”

Mr Martin-Summers explained that currently anyone who has to go into a residential home or nursing home and has capital of more than £23,250 has to pay for the care themselves – as well having to contribute most of their on-going income.

However with ‘continuing healthcare’, it could be possible that the local Primary Care Trust will foot the entire bill. This means that if a person is assessed as being eligible they will not have to contribute towards care fees – either from capital or from income.

Mr Martin-Summers added: “Not surprisingly, certain criteria have to be met in order to be deemed eligible. It will have to be shown that your needs are primarily ‘health’ needs as opposed to ‘social care’ needs. Those who are found to be eligible are usually people whose needs are either intense or complex or unpredictable in some way.

“In certain circumstances, such as a discharge from hospital, patients will automatically be assessed for eligibility by the PCT. If the patient has not been assessed, they can ask to be.

“In addition, if a person has a relative who has passed away since April 2004, but may have been eligible before they died, they can still make a retrospective claim to be reimbursed for any care fees that were paid out before their death.”

The Department of Health recently announced the deadlines for anyone wishing to make a retrospective claim, whether for a person who is alive or for the estate of a person who has died.

Claims for the period April 2004 to 31st March 2011 must be submitted before 30th September 2012; while claims for the period 1st April 2011 to 31st March 2012 must be submitted before 31st March 2013.

For more information about whether or not you qualify for this funding, or if you are a personal representative under a will or intestacy of someone who has passed away since April 2004 whom you think should have been funded, contact either Philip Martin-Summers or Janna Pugh at Higgs & Sons Solicitors on 0845 111 5050 for an initial discussion.