If you are an NDIS participant and you would like to live independently, Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) can provide the flexibility and freedom you may be looking for. Unfortunately, SDA is a funded support that is often misunderstood, so we wanted to explore exactly what it is and share some of our SDA tips.

What is SDA? 

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is an NDIS funded support that provides housing for people that require a high level of support and modifications to suit their needs.  

SDA is a very individualised support, as SDA funds the modifications needed to make a house or apartment suitable for your needs. You can live in SDA by yourself or with others, including partners who are not NDIS participants. Giving you more flexibility around your living arrangements.  

SDA funding is included under Capital funding support Category 6, and only covers the modifications and upkeep of your home. It does not cover the support you receive in your home or the cost of rent, which can be supplemented by the Disability Support Pension.  

What’s the difference between SDA and SIL?  

It’s easy to get SDA and Supported Independent Living (SIL) confused, as both supports aim to help people live independently. But while SDA is all about the physical home itself, SIL (Supported Independent Living) is about the supports provided while in your home. SIL support is usually available 24/7 and can include things like assistance with cooking and cleaning, personal care, and shopping.       

Am I eligible for SDA? 

Funding is only provided to a small proportion of NDIS participants with very high support needs, who meet specific criteria – around 6%! To qualify for SDA, the NDIS states that you must have “extreme functional impairment and/or very high support needs”, but what exactly does this mean? 

While there’s no black and white criteria for what counts as very high support needs, if any of the following applies to you, you may be able to receive SDA funding:  

  • You require more assistance than your informal supports can provide 
  • Your behaviours can put you or others at risk  
  • You have explored other avenues, such as home modifications, and found them to not be suitable 

How can I get SDA funding?  

The journey to get SDA funding can be complex– although there are some things you can do to give yourself the best chance of success.  

  1. You will need to show the NDIS that you require a lot of support and have no other suitable options available to you – which is where a report from an Occupational Therapist (OT) can really help. Your OT will perform several functional and life assessments and create a detailed report highlighting the barriers you’re facing and clearly stating why you need SDA funding.
    So, the first step of your SDA journey is making sure you have funding for an OT, which comes under Category 15 (Improved Daily Living). If you don’t have this, you can consider requesting a review of your NDIS plan
  2. Once your OT provides you with their report, you will need to contact the NDIS and request a plan review. When discussing your review with your Local Area Coordinator (LAC), explain that you want to move into more suitable housing and show the supporting report from your OT. Make it clear to the LAC that your main goal is to live independently, and you require SDA funding to do so.  

How do I find a Specialist Disability Accommodation?  

Finding the right fit for you is important. Things to consider include how close it is to suitable transport options, whether it is close to your friends, family, or employment, and if the location suits your lifestyle. 

Finding and successfully applying for an SDA can be a daunting task, so a support coordinator is an invaluable resource. Your support coordinator will work with you throughout the process, help you find suitable SDA, to achieve your desired outcome.  

So, when you request funding for SDA, make sure you ask for a good amount of support coordination funding.