Assistive technology funding under the NDIS

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Assistive technology (AT) can help to make everyday activities easier and allow you to do tasks you would not otherwise be able to do.

Key points

  • You can have funding in your NDIS plan for trying out, loaning or buying assistive technology
  • The technology must be considered reasonable and necessary and help you to work towards your goals
  • Funding for assistive technology is included in the Capital section of your NDIS plan

For example, a screen reader can be used to read text for a person who is blind, or a tablet can be used to operate household appliances and lights for people who use a wheelchair for mobility.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can cover funding for assistive technology as long as it is considered reasonable and necessary for you and will help you to reach your goals.

The process of getting funding for AT is different depending on the cost of the item though – some items need assessments and quotes while others don’t.

It can be complicated, so we’ve put together a guide to help you understand how it works.

Where does the funding come from?

All assistive technology funded supports appear in the Capital section of an NDIS plan. You don’t need to know exactly what item you will get before asking for funding in your plan as long as you have evidence that you need a particular kind of AT.

For example, if your occupational therapist writes a letter that shows you need handrails to help you move safely around your house, you can take that letter to your NDIS planning meeting and the planner you meet with can arrange for funding to be provided in your plan based on whether the AT should be low, mid or high cost.

At this stage, the planner can also include funding for you to have an assessment of the exact AT product you need so that you can find out exactly what it costs.

Advice on the type of assistive technology you need is covered by at least $500 of funding in the Capacity Building section of the plan. This might be used to pay for an occupational therapist to visit your home for an assessment and suggest home modifications for safety such as an adjustable bed, for example.

You can ask for assistive technology funding at any plan review you have scheduled, or you can request a plan review yourself to discuss funding of AT.

The NDIS will not fund AT which can be funded by another scheme or organisation.

If you need the AT for your workplace, for example, it will be funded by JobAccess through the Employment Assistance Fund, rather than the NDIS. Or if you need medically related AT for a few weeks at home after leaving hospital, that will be funded by your State or Territory health system.

Your NDIS contact – a plan manager or local area coordinator – can tell you whether the NDIS is the best scheme for the specific AT you need or not.

Low cost

Assistive Technology which costs less than $1,500 is considered low cost.

These could be items like non-slip bath mats for safety on tiled floors in your house, magnifiers to help you read text or foam posture support cushions.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) doesn’t require quotes for low cost AT.

It is still recommended you get advice from a professional about the type of AT you need, what it should cost and the best brand for you, but you don’t need to have that advice put in a written report and you don’t need to give it to the NDIA for approval.

You can keep any AT assessment advice you do get or upload it to your NDIS portal in case you need to access it again later.

Mid cost

Mid cost AT is anything costing between $1,500 and $15,000, for example, a shower chair or some Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices.

For these kinds of AT you also don’t need quotes, but you do need written evidence from a professional that it will work for you and be the best possible solution.

Again, you can keep this written advice from your assessing professional or upload it to your NDIS portal.

High cost

Power wheelchairs, vehicle modifications and hoists are examples of high cost AT, which covers anything costing more than $15,000.

For high cost AT, you will need both an assessment by a professional AT advisor and a quote for the AT that you are asking for funding to purchase.

The assessment needs to ensure the AT is safe for you to use and include information about what help you may need to set it up as well as any training you will need to be able to use it.

This is so that the NDIA can make sure you are using the money wisely, you will be safe while using the AT and you have enough funding to cover installing the product as well as training to use it.

Your quote and assessment for high cost AT needs to be sent to the NDIA at [email protected].

Loans and rentals

It is also possible to have funds for renting assistive technology in your plan.

This could be helpful if your needs are changing quickly and the AT will only meet your needs for a short amount of time, if you are waiting on new or replacement AT and need something to support you in the meantime, or if you need to trial high cost AT to check if it works for you before buying it.

Renting AT can also be useful for children who will grow out of items and continually need to replace them.

To get funding for renting AT you need to tell the NDIA why you want to rent it and for how long.

If the rental is considered low or mid cost, under $15,000, you will also need to get evidence from an assistive technology adviser about the cost. If it is a high cost rental, over $15,000, you will need to provide a formal quote to the NDIA.

Risk level

The ease of use and safety of a product is also important and all products are classified into two categories; low risk and high risk.

Low risk products are things like large print labels, shower chairs and forks or eating utensils. They have a low risk of being unsafe and are easy to use without much advice on how to use them.

High risk products include vehicle modifications, prosthetics, pressure care devices and power wheelchairs. They are either complicated pieces of technology, have caused harm before or are used in restrictive practices, which means you are less likely to be able to use them safely without instructions or training.

To have these products funded you need to have advice from an assistive technology assessor, like a physiotherapist or continence nurse, and provide the advice to the NDIA.

Do you have assistive technology funding in your NDIS plan? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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