The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a program that allows people who have adaptive needs the freedom to live their life how they choose. The NDIS helps people achieve their goals, receive the help and support they need from within their community, and fund everyday essentials that assist people in leading their best possible lives.
Individuals must apply to become a participant of the NDIS – this can be completed alone or with the support of carers or healthcare professionals. The process for applying for the NDIS can be a little daunting, so in this article, we’re breaking down the steps of how to apply for the NDIS easily and efficiently.
How does the NDIS work?
The NDIS is a government-funded program designed to assist those with a permanent disability to find support within the community and to assist with living an ordinary life. Through the NDIS, individuals can receive funding for a range of supports and services which are aimed at building or maintaining necessary skills and the capability to achieve their goals.
When an individual has an NDIS package, they will be given access to a range of support systems, from developing a specific plan, all the way through to implementing their plan and funding.
Am I eligible for the NDIS?
As disabilities vary from person to person, there is a range of eligibility requirements that every person must meet to be able to receive NDIS funding. These requirements include:
1. Are you between the ages of 7-65?
2. Do you live in Australia or have Australian residency?
3. Do you need support from a person or carer because of a permanent or significant disability?
4. Do you use specific or special equipment because of a disability?
5. Do you need support to reduce your future needs?
If you answer yes to most or all of these questions, then the next step is to start the application process.
Children between 0-7
If you have a child under seven years of age, they may benefit from being a part of Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI), which can provide funding to better suit this age group’s needs.
The ECEI is a program designed to support children with early intervention needs including developmental delays. The ECEI will help you to develop a support plan with an ECEI coordinator that specialises in Early Intervention, and they will assist in connecting your child with the most appropriate supports in your area, assessing your child’s needs, and in the case for long term support, can assist you in requesting access to the NDIS.
After your child has access to the NDIS, your Early Childhood Partner will work with you and your child to develop a plan that supports their goals and the family’s goals. To learn more about the ECEI or your nearest Partner, call 1800 800 110 or find your nearest Early Childhood Partner on the NDIS website.
Adults over 65
If you are over 65, you will be directed towards My Aged Care for support and guidance. My Aged Care is government-funded aged care and can assist through a range of supports and services, like independent living, aged care facilities and both short- and long-term care. To find out if you are eligible for My Aged Care, call 1800 200 422 or head over to their website.
How to apply for the NDIS?
There are a few steps for applying for the NDIS.
1. Contact the NDIS directly
Fill out an access request form
You can apply directly to the NDIS by submitting an Access Request Form (ARF), used to determine your eligibility for the NDIS. Some information that you will need to include in the form is:
1. Age: You will need to supply evidence of your age. You can use Centrelink to confirm your age or your birth certificate, current passport biodata page, proof of age card or a driver’s license.
2. Residency: Similar to age, you will need to confirm your residency. You can do this through Centrelink, your birth certificate, Australian citizen or naturalisation certificate, foreign passport or travel documents which include a valid Australian permanent residency visa or protected special category visa.
3. Disability or Early Intervention: You will need to provide evidence to confirm your current disability. If you have a child eligible for ECEI, you will need to provide supporting evidence on their behalf. This includes documentation like reports, assessments, and/or letters, or having your current healthcare professional complete section 2 of the Access Request Form.
If you are unable to fill out the form digitally or print out the form, you can also request the form be mailed to you. To do this, phone the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) directly (1800 800 110) or pick it up in person at any Centrelink, NDIA or ECEI office.
If you are unable to fill out the form by yourself or need some help filling out certain aspects of the form, some people who can help include your local GP, Paediatrician, School Staff, Allied Health Professionals and a range of more specialised support. The NDIS website also has an online web chat if you need to speak with someone or have immediate questions.
Call the NDIA to make an access request
If you prefer to speak to someone directly, you can contact the NDIA by calling their customer number (1800 800 110) and making an access request over the phone.
You will still need to supply information about your age, residency, and disability, so make sure that you or anyone acting on your behalf has all the necessary information. As part of the call, you will have to email or post copies of your supporting documentation. You can also complete and submit the Supporting Evidence form to show proof.
2. Submit your ARF
Once you or your representative has filled out and completed the ARF, the next step is to submit the form. There are three ways to submit the ARF, which include:
1. Email the ARF, Supporting Evidence form, or other documentation directly to the NDIA: NAT@ndis.gov.au; or
2. Post your form to the NDIA mailing address: GPO Box 700, Canberra, ACT 2601; or
3. Drop your form into your nearest NDIA office
When sending in your ARF, emailed NDIS applications will be received and processed much quicker than a mailed form, so look to send your ARF digitally if you can.
3. Approval and access to the scheme
If you have been deemed eligible for the NDIS, you will receive a letter saying that you have been accepted into the scheme.
A representative of the NDIA will contact you to book a time to develop your plan. This meeting can be face-to-face or over the phone.
4. Preparing for your planning meeting
Your planning meeting is a very important step in your NDIS journey because it allows your Planner to better understand your lifestyle and current circumstances. This is where you will both discuss your goals, lifestyle, and needs along with other aspects of social, cultural, or employment opportunities.
The NDIS has a free, downloadable booklet that you can fill out before your planning meeting and will help you to think about your daily lifestyle and how you interact with the community.
Before the meeting, make sure you have all the supporting documentation that can help your Planner understand more about your assistive needs so that they can better understand how the NDIS could help support your goals.
5. Meet with your Planner
The meeting to develop your plan is the perfect time for you and your Planner to discuss your needs and goals, including:
1. Your everyday needs
2. Any unmet needs
3. Short and long term goals
4. The steps that you can take to work towards your goals
This is the perfect time to discuss whether you need support managing your funding through a dedicated Support Coordinator or to discuss the steps involved to self-manage your NDIS plan and funding. You can also request for your plan to be in a specific language or other accessibility formats, including braille, audio files or large print.
6. Plan approval and using your plan
After your meeting, your plan will be submitted to the NDIA for approval. Once it has been approved, you will be given a hard copy, either in person or mailed to you and you will also have access to a digital copy of your plan via the NDIS myplace portal. The myplace portal can be accessed via the NDIS website or through your mygov portal. Your plan will be valid from 12 to 24 months and will need to be reviewed after it expires.
Once you have your plan, you can review your goals to work out the best way to meet them through your funding. NDIS participants will be able to claim consumables required for a range of needs, including daily expenses and transport to social and community engagement. You will also be able to start choosing providers and if you have funding for a Support Coordinator, you can begin to access assistance to coordinate your services.
Purchasing through Averee
At Averee, we bring together a specially curated range of items that work to assist you and your goals. We have made it easy for NDIS and My Aged Care participants to use their funding to purchase items that align with their plan.
When shopping at Averee, you will be able to purchase the item and then request a reimbursement through your Plan Manager or an Administrator. It is up to you and your Planner to make sure that the items you are purchasing align with your plan and can be counted as ‘reasonable and necessary’.
Our products come with suggested tags for how they can be used and the NDIS support category that the product falls under. However, this is not definitive and can be changed to fit each person’s circumstances and plan goals. This will help inspire your purchasing choices within your funding and assist with reimbursement.
For more information on how to shop, make purchases and create a claim with your NDIS funding, read more about Averee and the NDIS now.
Applying for the NDIS is not a simple procedure. There are many different avenues and discussions to be had during the application process. Remember that while you are applying for the NDIS, there is plenty of support available online to help you apply and get the application process underway.
For inspiration for your planning meeting and funding possibilities, check out the range of adaptive products available online from Averee.