Financial assessment (means test) for social care
A financial assessment (also known as a means test) is an assessment to decide if your council will pay towards your care and support.
A financial assessment or means test works out if the council will pay towards your care. It looks at how much money you have.
In England the council generally helps to pay for care costs if you have savings less than £23,250. From October 2025 this will rise to £100,000 in savings.
It may be that you'll have to pay towards the cost of your care. The more money you have, the more you'll be expected to pay.
The financial assessment is free and happens after a needs assessment or carer's assessment.
You don't need to get a financial assessment yourself.
What happens during a financial assessment
A Financial Assessment Officer from the council will contact you to ask about things like your:
- benefits (including Attendance Allowance or PIP)
- property (including overseas property)
They won't need to know about the value of your possessions or any life insurance policies.
It won't work to spend your money or give your property away before the financial assessment. The assessment can ask you about things you used to own.
If the council thinks you have reduced your wealth on purpose, it might stop you getting any type of financial help.
How to prepare for a financial assessment
Make sure you have all the information you'll need.
This includes details about:
- savings in bank accounts, building societies, ISAs or premium bonds
- stocks and shares you own
- property or land you own
Make a list of any disability-related expenses you have so you remember everything when you're asked about it.
Will I have to sell my home to pay for care?
If you need a paid carer to come into your home, the value of your house won't be included in the financial assessment.
But if you're paying for a care home, the value of your house will be included unless your spouse or partner is still living in it.
Getting the results
The council will write to you about how much your care will cost and the amount you have to pay.
If you qualify for council help with costs, you'll be offered a personal budget.
You can choose to get your personal budget in 2 ways:
- a direct payment into your bank account each month
- the council organises your care and you'll get a regular bill to pay towards it
If you don't qualify for council help with costs, you'll be expected to pay the full cost of your care. Read more about paying for your own care (self-funding).
The council must regularly reassess your finances, usually once a year.
If you have any questions about how your financial assessment has been worked out, ask the council to explain it to you.
If you want to talk to someone about the financial assessment:
- find a local accredited financial adviser at Society of Later Life Advisers (for older people)
- call the MoneyHelper helpline on 0800 138 7777 (for all ages)
Read more about mean tests for help with care costs and how they work on the MoneyHelper website.
How to complain about a financial assessment
If you don't agree with the results of your financial assessment or how it was done, you have the right to complain.
First complain to your local council. Your council should have a formal complaints procedure on its website.
If you're not happy with the way the council handles your complaint, you can take it to the local government and social care ombudsman.
An ombudsman is an independent person who's been appointed to look into complaints about organisations.