The government's flagship policy to cap care costs in England will be delayed until 2020, the government says.
Costs were to be limited to £72,000 for the over 65s and younger adults with disabilities from April 2016.
But the Department of Health said that will now be put back four years, although it said it was still "fully committed" to the cap.
The move came after councils wrote to ministers asking for a delay because of the "enormous pressures" they faced.
For years councils have been warning the care system - which covers residential care and help at home with tasks such as washing and dressing - has been under-funded.
The letter from the Local Government Association on 1 July said the shortfall in funds was now growing by £700m a year.
It added while councils backed the introduction of the cap, it was not possible to cope with the extra demands the changes would bring at the moment.
It said the current system was "no longer sustainable" and pressing ahead would be "deeply damaging".
It had been predicted the changes would add £6bn to public sector spending over the course of five years.
The move was part of a raft of changes being introduced under 2014 Care Act and included in the Conservative Party's manifesto.
As well as capping costs, the changes would have provided a more generous system of state help.
Currently those with assets of above £23,250 do not get any help from councils towards their costs.
That was to have risen to £118,000 under the changes.
Ministers had claimed the policy would stop people racking up "catastrophic" care costs in old age - one in 10 people who enter the care system end up forking out over £100,000.