Equipment and Assistive Technology - Making the NDIS work for you
There’s almost no limit to the kinds of equipment and assistive technology that can make life easier for people with a disability. From non-slip bathmats and adaptive can openers, all the way to electric wheelchairs and stair lifts, these tools can allow people to perform tasks they otherwise might have difficulty doing – creating new opportunities for living an independent life.
The NDIS provides funding for these various pieces of equipment in different ways, so it can be a particularly tricky area to get your head around. In this article we provide some clarity and share some handy tips to help you get the equipment you need - and how to get funding for maintenance and repairment.
How can the NDIS fund my equipment?
The NDIS funds any equipment that helps a person do the everyday tasks they can’t do on their own. There are two main categories in your NDIS plan that deal with this, each with different rules and funding arrangements:
Consumables / Daily Adaptive Equipment (category 3) is simple, low cost equipment that can be bought off the shelf without any need for customisation; for example, large print labels, walkers and rollators. Usually the maximum rate for this equipment is $1500.
These types of equipment are classified as ‘Core Supports’ in your NDIS plan. This means that, just as with each support in this category, you have the flexibility of purchasing them using any funds that are in your Core budget.
Assistive Technology (category 5) is a bit more complicated, as it covers specialised equipment that’s more sophisticated and expensive, such as wheelchairs, home modifications and prosthetics. Assistive Technology is part of 'Capital Supports' in your NDIS plan.
Because of the high costs involved, in many instances the NDIS doesn’t allocate a budget to these in your NDIS plan. Instead you must submit a quote for the piece of equipment, which the NDIA will assess and approve.
Now, as the funding process for Assistive Technology (category 5) is different than any other funding in your NDIS plan, let’s dive a little deeper in how this works step by step:
The Assistive Technology quote process
Get support from a therapist
Finding the right equipment and then getting quotes for it might sound overwhelming, but the good news is you won’t be going it alone. As part of the quote process, you’re required to get support from an Occupational Therapist or another specialised therapist, who will assess your need for the equipment and help you gather and submit your quotes. To ensure you have the best chance of getting your equipment funded by the NDIS, your therapist should use the NDIS Assessment Template. If you need a trial of your equipment, your therapist might also be able to help you with this.
It’s best to organise a meeting with a therapist to discuss your needs face to face. If you have therapy in your NDIS plan (which comes under the category of ‘Improved Daily Living’), the NDIS will fund this support.
Get a quote
With the support of your therapist, you should ask an equipment provider to give you a quote for the equipment you need. You can also ask multiple providers to provide you with a quote. For Assistive Technology, these providers must be registered with the NDIS, which means you can’t use unregistered providers for this category.
Submit your quote to the NDIS
You’ll need to submit your quote (and if applicable, the AT assessment form signed by your therapist) to the NDIS. You can also submit two or more quotes and let the NDIS decide what can be funded out of your funds. As each state has its own rules how to submit your quote it is best to speak to your therapist about helping to submit the quote on your behalf.
Hire equipment temporarily if needed
Sometimes it may take a while for your Assistive Technology quote to be processed and approved by the NDIS. To avoid being caught out without your equipment during this potentially lengthy period, you’re able to request additional funding to hire some. You’ll need to get separate budget allocated for this in your NDIS plan, so ask for this during your planning meeting, as it’s not automatically included in your plan.
Ask your provider to provide an invoice
When the NDIS has approved your quote, ask the approved provider to provide you with an invoice for the equipment.
Get the invoice approved and paid by the NDIS
Just like any other invoice, you will have to get the invoice paid out of your NDIS budgets by the NDIS. If you have Plan Management, your provider can send their invoice to your Plan Manager and they will take care of processing and paying it.
Receiving your equipment
When the invoice is approved by the NDIA, your provider will usually need to place the order with the manufacturer and deliver the equipment to you once payment is received. Delivery time frames can vary, so check with your provider.
What about maintaining my equipment?
Because it’s more than likely that your equipment will need to be maintained, and possibly repaired at some point, the NDIS can provide you with a budget for this.
Make sure this is included in your NDIS plan by asking for this during your planning meeting, as it’s not automatically included in your plan. It’ll be featured as a separate item under ‘Assistive Technology’. You can use this funding for maintenance only, not for acquiring the equipment.
If you are already have an NDIS plan but there is no budget for maintenance or repairment included, it might be a good reason to request a review of your plan. Find out here how to do this.
If the equipment you need costs less than $1500 and is off the shelf, you should be able to pay for it using your Core budget.
If you’re requesting to have Assistive Technology included in your plan, also ask for Improved Daily Living funding, as you’ll need an Occupational Therapist (or other specialised therapist) to assess your need and get quotes for your equipment.
Because the NDIS can take a long time to approve quotes, you can also request funding to rent equipment so you’re never without.
You can get a repair allowance to maintain your equipment, so ask for this in your planning meeting.
Even if you have Plan Management, the funding for Assistive Technology is, in most cases, managed by the NDIS and therefore requires the use of registered providers.
If you have Plan Management, you only need to send the invoice to your Plan Manager. Plan Managers can only process invoices, not quotes.
If you have a Support Coordinator, they can help you selecting a therapist for the assessments and purchasing your equipment with a provider.
If you have any questions relating to your specific situation, please contact us or give our friendly team a call on 1300 333 700.
If you'd like to know more about what your NDIS plan funds and what not, our handy 'Understanding your NDIS plan' web page explains it all.
This is the sixth article in our Making the NDIS work for you' blog series. Read all articles here:
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