The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a tidal wave of government funding dramatically changing the landscape of health and disability care services in Australia. This influx of cash, estimated to cost the government a cool $22 BILLION per year, aims to provide individualised support to people with disabilities, their families and carers. To learn more about the NDIS click here.
This sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, the red tape and ambiguous processes involved in actually applying for the NDIS is turning out to be a total headache. The shift in funding that is supposed to empower the participants (people with disabilities and their families/carers) is not only shifting the funding, but the administrative responsibilities into their hands!
Whilst Local Area Coordinators (LAC’s) are assigned to support this journey for participants, many families are unaware that they exist!
Lets cut to the chase. How do you apply for the NDIS?
Who is eligible?
The guidelines for eligibility can be found on the NDIS website (here). There is some uncertainty surrounding eligibility, but I’ll do my best!
1. A participant must have a permanent and significant disability or developmental delay
2. A participant must be 0-65 years old
3. A participant must be an Australian citizen (or hold a relevant visa)What defines a permanent and significant disability? Some people with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are accepted, yet some are denied NDIS funding. How does that work?
I’ve got you.
There are two main branches of the NDIS that children can access funding through. Children aged 0-5 can access Early Intervention (EI) funding through the NDIS. These children need to have… “substantially reduced functional capacity in one or more of the areas of self-care, receptive and expressive language, cognitive development or motor development” .
This means that in order for your child to access EI funding, they need to be significantly delayed in more than one area. Some children with severe to profound functional impairments in one area, e.g. severe Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), have been known to be granted EI packages for only one area.
The other branch of NDIS funding is for children and adults aged 6-65. This funding encompasses; therapies, carers, respite, assistive technology, transport, housing and much more. For children to access NDIS funding after they turn 6, they need to have a severe and permanent disability. Many children who qualify for EI funding will not qualify for NDIS funding after turning 6. Usually, these children need to fall below the first percentile in multiple areas of function, e.g. expressive language, fine motor & cognitive impairment.
Go to the NDIS website or call 1800 800 110 to find out more about eligibility for the NDIS.
How to apply
From experience, the main issue at the forefront of applying for the NDIS is that families are walking into the unknown. They are told to “contact the NDIS”.
Unfortunately, its not your local school or community health center’s role to deliver you safely into the NDIS’s open arms. It’s your LAC’s job to make sure families reach their NDIS destination.
Below is a step by step guide of to apply for the NDIS, so listen up!
1. Check your eligibility online https://www.ndis.gov.au/applying-access-ndis/am-i-eligible
2. CALL 1800 800 110
2. Stay on the line until you talk to a person!
3. Tell them your story. You can only receive an access request form by calling this number.
4. You will be sent your application paperwork in the mail. Fill out what you can.
5. Gather ALL relevant reports from ALL professionals and attach them to your application. Then choose from the following;
- Get your GP to help you fill out the rest of the application
- Ask your therapist to fill out the application
6. Submit your application to the NDIS.
If you have trouble submitting your application, there are people who are paid to help you! Look up your Local Area Coordinator (LAC). It is their job to help you with your application.
If you are having trouble getting in contact with a LAC, there are third party companies that can also help you, for free! Contact us at Spot Family for referral to these services.
To watch a video about accessing the NDIS, click here.