What is a ‘primary’ disability according to the NDIS?

Posted 3 weeks ago by Georgie Waters
Getting NDIS funding can help provide support for people with disability, but understanding the terminology can help you create a valid application. [Source: Shutterstock]
Getting NDIS funding can help provide support for people with disability, but understanding the terminology can help you create a valid application. [Source: Shutterstock]

Defining your disability for NDIS funding

Key points

  • Most recent data from the NDIS suggests that almost 646,500 Australians are registered NDIS participants
  • Your primary disability is the one that has the greatest impact on your daily living and interaction in the community, according to information from the NDIS website
  • In some circumstances, a priority eligibility decision will be made regarding an application with a turnaround time of between two to five business days

The NDIS scheme was first discussed in 2013 by the Australian Government, with the introduction of the full scheme being introduced in 2016. Now, almost 646,500 Australians are currently registered as NDIS participants

Learning more about the NDIS can be helpful if you’re unfamiliar with the application process and you are trying to apply for yourself or someone you know. In the NDIS application, you can discuss your disability with your NDIS local area coordinator when you’re connected.

As per information on the NDIS website, ‘primary disability refers to the impairment that impacts most on your daily life.’ This means that people affected by multiple conditions can still apply for NDIS funding, however, they will need to identify which impacts their lives most. A condition that has less of an impact on one’s life and functioning would be classified as a secondary disability.

Depending on your ‘primary’ disability, getting assessed by an appropriate health professional with standardised assessment criteria will increase the validity of your claim to receive NDIS funding. 

For example, disability evidence for a stroke must be provided by a neurologist using a particular assessment. In contrast, numerous members of a multidisciplinary team may assess someone with autism with more options available for assessment, according to information on the NDIS website, current as of April 29, 2024.

If you’re unsure what disability would be classified as primary for your situation, have a chat with your GP or allied health practitioner. 

The NDIS has created lists to provide you with indicators of disability that may be more likely to acquire funding based on your primary disability. Even if a condition is listed, NDIS funding may be difficult to negotiate if you are not functionally impaired or your condition is likely to improve over time.

Additionally, the evidence of disability you provide in your application is assessed in many ways, including how recent the information is and how your disability impacts your function.

The NDIS has compiled some eligibility information into lists regarding primary disability and includes the following:

  • List A highlights ‘conditions that are likely to meet the disability requirements’, and can include autism spectrum disorder at level two or three;
  • List B contains ‘conditions that are likely to be permanent’ such as Down syndrome;
  • List C explains how to receive NDIS funding if ‘you’re receiving disability support in Western Australia’ including programs such as Day Options and Respite;
  • List D highlights ‘conditions that are likely to meet the early intervention requirements for children younger than seven’.

At times, making a priority eligibility decision will occur in particular circumstances, including when the applicant is at imminent risk of homelessness or if they are being released from an inpatient mental health facility. 

However, even if you live with a primary disability that may qualify for NDIS funding, residency requirements still apply. You must be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident or be on a protected special category visa, as per information on the NDIS website. Travelling may be possible but this depends on the duration of time away from Australia. 

If you’re not eligible for NDIS funding, other supports are available and vary depending on your needs. The comprehensive list released by the NDIS is available online.


Do you have a primary disability and receive funding from the NDIS? How is funding improving your life?

Let the team at Talking Disability know on social media. 

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