Are you or a loved one thinking about applying for support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)? Here, we explain what the NDIS is, who it’s designed to support, how you can apply, and what happens after you do.  

What is the NDIS?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is how the Australian Government provides support to people with a permanent disability. It’s designed to give people with disability more choice and control over the support they receive to help them achieve their goals.

NDIS participants (people that receive support through the NDIS) get given a personalised NDIS plan, which contains funding based on their individual needs and goals. They can then spend this money on their choice of service providers.

Am I eligible for the NDIS?

If you have a significant and permanent disability that requires ongoing support, you might be eligible for the NDIS.

The decision is ultimately made by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). They’re the agency in charge of the NDIS and they look at every applicant’s individual situation to decide who’s eligible and who isn’t.

There are some key things the NDIA looks at to assess who can receive support from the NDIS. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to work out if you’re eligible or not…

1. Do you have a permanent disability?

The NDIS is designed to support people with a permanent and life-long disability. If you have an illness, injury, or something that can be cured with the appropriate treatment, it’s unlikely you’re eligible for the NDIS. 

For example, a person who has had their legs amputated may be eligible for the NDIS, while a person with a broken leg is not (as this injury will heal). 

2. Do you require the support of another person or specialist equipment due to your disability?

The NDIS supports people who require ongoing assistance because of how significant their disability is. If you have a permanent disability but don’t require much support in your day-to-day life or are assisted with specialist equipment, you might not be eligible for the NDIS.

3. Are you aged between 0 and 65 years?

Only people within this age bracket are eligible to apply for the NDIS. If you have a child under 7 that requires support, they can access this through the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) program. If you’re older than 65 you won’t be able to apply for the NDIS and can instead receive supports through the Commonwealth Aged Care System.

4. Are you an Australian citizen living in Australia?

The NDIS is only available to Australian citizens or people with a permanent or protected special category visa. If you don’t fall into one of these categories or are currently living outside of Australia, you won’t be able to apply for the NDIS.

How can I apply?

If you answered yes to all the above questions, there’s a good chance you’re eligible to receive support through the NDIS. 

There are two ways to begin the application process, either over the phone or in writing:

  • By phone: Give the NDIS a call on 1800 800 110 and ask to make a ‘Verbal Access Request’. (VAR)
  • In writing: Download and complete an Access Request Form (ARF), then email [email protected] the NDIS.

Supporting your application

Whichever method you choose, you will need to provide as much evidence as possible to show the impact your disability has on your daily life.

This should include recent letters or reports from your treating professional confirming your disability and the functional impact it has on your life. These reports should also describe any treatments you have undertaken or may undertake in the future, to show that your disability is permanent.  

This evidence is an important part of the application process, as it will help the NDIA understand your situation and the support you require. This will give you the best chance of your application being approved.  

What happens if my application is approved?

If your application is successful, a representative from the NDIS will contact you to let you know. They will also arrange a planning meeting for you.

This meeting is your opportunity to discuss your support needs and the things you’d like to achieve with the assistance of the NDIS. This information will be used by the NDIS to work out what supports you require and how much funding you’ll need to access those supports. This is then included in your NDIS plan.

Just like with your access request, the more evidence you can provide in your planning meeting, the better chance you have of getting an NDIS plan you’re happy with.       

What happens if my application is rejected?

If you feel your application has been incorrectly rejected, you can – and should – apply again.

The most likely reason your application was denied is because you didn’t provide enough quality evidence. This evidence must be recent and show the functional impact your disability has on your day-to-day life – not just the medical or physical impact. The more evidence you can provide the better, so speak to medical professionals, carers, family members, friends and build a case that will help the NDIA see exactly why you need the support of the NDIS.

It’s not uncommon for people’s applications to be rejected the first time, or even multiple times. With the right evidence and some perseverance, many end up being successful. So, don’t be put off – keep your spirits up and keep trying!