To be eligible to access the NDIS, a person must:
- Be an Australian citizen, or hold a permanent visa or a Protected Special Category Visa [National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth) s 23]; and
- Currently reside in Australia [s 23]; and
- Be aged under 65 years old when applying to access the scheme [s 22]; and
- Meet the disability requirements [s 24].
Alternatively, a person may be eligible if they meet the early intervention requirements as contained in section 25 of the NDIS Act – see Early Intervention Requirements below.
Only those who reside in a region or state where the NDIS is available will be able to access the NDIS [s 23(3)]. By 2020 the NDIS should be available across all of Australia.
The disability requirements are set out in section 24 of the Act, and a person must satisfy each requirement to be eligible under the scheme. For a person to meet the disability requirements, they must have:
- a disability that is attributable to one or more intellectual, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairments, or that is attributable to a psychiatric condition; and
- an impairment(s) that is, or is likely to be, permanent; and
- an impairment(s) that results in substantially reduced functional capacity in at least one of the activities of communication, social interaction, learning, mobility, self-care, and self-management; and
- an impairment(s) affect the person's capacity for social or economic participation; and
- a likelihood that they will require support under the NDIS for their lifetime.
See NDIS Act 2013 (Cth) s 24.
The NDIA has developed a streamlined disability assessment process for people with certain conditions (such as autism, cerebral palsy, permanent blindness), or who are already receiving support from certain disability providers. Such applicants may automatically meet the disability requirements without further assessment. See the Operational Guideline-: Access to the NDIS - The Disability Requirements and associated List A, List B,and List C for more information.
Any child aged under 7 years who applies for the NDIS will first be assessed as to whether they meet the early intervention requirements - see Early Intervention Requirements below [see also Operational Guideline: Access to the NDIS - The Disability Requirements].
Early Intervention Requirements
A person who does not meet the above criteria may still be eligible for NDIS assistance if they meet the early intervention requirements.
The early intervention requirements are outlined in section 25 of the NDIS Act. Section 25(1) provides that a person may meet the early intervention requirements if:
- They have an intellectual, cognitive, neurological, sensory of physical impairment that is (or is likely to be) permanent; or
- They have an impairment attributable to a psychiatric condition that is (or is likely to be) permanent; and
- Providing early intervention supports will reduce the person’s future support needs and will improve their functional capacity or prevent the deterioration of their functional capacity.
If a person meets the above criteria then assistance may be received from the NDIS as long as the supports are not more appropriately funded by another service [s 25(3)].
Special provisions also apply to children aged under 6 years who have developmental delays resulting in substantially reduced functional capacity and who have a need for special care, treatment or services [s 25(1)(a)(iii)]. Such applicants may also be eligible to receive assistance pursuant to the early intervention requirements of the NDIS.
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