Time is running out to claim back wrongly paid care fees

Moving a loved one into a care home is a major upheaval for any family. It can also be very expensive, with fees for residential or nursing homes often running to tens of thousands  of pounds each year.

However, while an individual’s care has to be paid for, it does not necessarily have to be paid for by the family. The local authority will typically assist with care costs if the individual has less than £23,250 in savings. Anyone who has in excess of this amount may still qualify for help, subject to an assessment of their care needs.

If the primary need is for health care rather than personal or social care, then the NHS should meet these costs. However, this does not stop thousands of people being denied this fully funded continuing  care because they have been wrongly assessed.

Deciding whether someone is eligible to have their continuing  care fees paid by the NHS is still something of a grey area and can  be very subjective. However, this does not mean that you have to accept the decision. If you believe that a loved one has been wrongly assessed then it is possible to make a retrospective claim for care  fees already paid.

At present, you can claim for fees paid as far back as April 2004. However, this is all set to change from 1 October 2012, when it will  no longer be possible to claim retrospectively. According to the Department of Health, any claim relating to the period from 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2011 must be lodged with the NHS by 30 September 2012, while any claim from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 must be registered with the NHS by 31 March 2013.

While the NHS may consider claims made after these dates if you can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, it is likely that most late applications will be refused. Therefore, if you believe you have a claim, you should act now while the window of opportunity remains open.

At Palmers Solicitors, we are experienced in all areas of law affecting elderly clients and can assist with claiming back care home fees which should have been paid by the NHS. To find out how we can help you, please contact us.

Lee McClellan is a partner at Palmers Solicitors, specialising in advising clients in disputes with the NHS and local authorities over the funding of residential and nursing care.