In our weekly legal column, the Leader, with the expert advice of the team at GHP Legal, sets out to answer some of your problems. Today's question is answered by solicitor Ulia Choudhry...

Is health care funding means-tested and can you make a retrospective claim?

Q: My disabled cousin has been cared for by her husband in their home for several years. The problem is that they are now both elderly and I feel they desperately need more help.

I have broached the subject with them but they believe they are above the threshold in terms of their savings and would not qualify for financial support that would allow them to access more help.

However, I always believed that if you had nursing needs, as opposed to just simply care needs, financial help was not means tested. Is this the case? And if it is, could they also claim reimbursement for what care they have already paid for themselves?

A: If your cousin has ongoing healthcare needs then she may be eligible for free NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) funding. This funding is not means tested and is based on the complexity of the care required. Looking ahead, if your cousin ultimately needs care in a nursing home, she may then be eligible for non means-tested NHS-funded nursing care.

Your cousin, or her husband on her behalf, need to apply to their local authority for her to be assessed for CHC, as without this they cannot begin a claim. The assessment starts with a broad checklist, taking into account 12 aspects of a patient's needs. These are based on whether the health needs are intense, complicated or unpredictable. There are however no clear rules on eligibility as different local authorities have different legal remits for providing care, so seeking advice and help from a professional to make an application for CHC can be immensely useful. A solicitor could help with this.

In respect of claiming retrospectively for care they have already paid for, this may be possible provided the costs related to care paid for prior to March 31, 2012. It is not however a simple process, so again they would benefit from seeking legal help to make such a claim.

This question has been answered by Ulia Choudhry, a solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194.