Are you an adult or a teenager applying to the NDIS for the first time?
NDIS funding for the supports you need to live your life with choice and control and achieve your goals can be life-changing. However, accessing the NDIS can be a lengthy process. If you choose to go ahead and apply, it pays to gather as much information as you can, check your eligibility and give your application the best chance the first time.
When the NDIS says – “you must demonstrate evidence of your diagnosis from a treating professional” – what kind of evidence do they need? Your disability or impairment must lead to a significant reduction in your functional capacity, but what does functional capacity mean? Your treating professional(s) must provide an assessment and a report, but what should they include? What language should they use?
This blog will take you through the Fighting Chance NDIS Access Checklist and build on the points included. You may also want to watch:
- Alex Browne’s webinar, “Applying to the NDIS as a teen or an adult”
- Lisa Duffy’s webinar, “Practical guidance on accessing the NDIS”
The NDIS access checklist
The first three eligibility questions are nice and straightforward.
1. Are you under the age of 65?
2. Are you an Australian Citizen, Permanent Resident or do you have another special, protected category of visa?
3. Do you reside in Australia?
Congratulations, you’re 3/7 of the way through the checklist.
These questions correspond with Section 1 (the section you fill in for yourself or for your person) of the NDIS Access Request Form, Part A (your personal information).
4. Do you have a diagnosed disability that is lifelong and permanent?
5. Do you have evidence of this diagnosis from a treating professional?
Include details in Section 1, Part E of the NDIS Access Request Form (overview of your disability).
For certain disabilities, a diagnosis is likely to meet requirements to gain access to the NDIS. You can find the full list here.
If you already have good evidence of a diagnosis from the list of conditions above, or another condition/impairment which results in your disability, you can attach this. According to the NDIS, good evidence should:
- be recent
- be completed by a treating health professional who is relevant to your primary disability
- confirm your primary disability
- confirm the impacts of your disability on the different areas of your life
- describe previous treatments and outcomes
- describe future treatment options and expected outcomes of those treatments.
Finally, and most importantly:
6. Does your disability have a significant impact on your functional capacity in different areas of your life?
7. Do you have an assessment and a report from your treating professional(s) detailing this impact, and what supports you are likely to need?
Functional capacity refers to your capacity across six core areas of daily life, known as domains. If your disability has an impact on your functional capacity, it means that, due to your disability, you are less able to enjoy the “ordinary life”, that should be the right of all Australians across these domains. You must demonstrate impact on at least one of these domains to be eligible for the NDIS:
- Social interaction
- Self care
- Self management
For example, if you are a wheelchair user, or you have severe anxiety which prevents you from leaving the house, there is a functional impact on your mobility. You might not be able to access public transport, and therefore the variety of places you can travel is limited, or you might not be able to get to the shops to buy essentials.
The language you, and your treating professionals use to communicate functional impact is important. Clinicians often write in medical language about symptoms, but the NDIS is interested in how these symptoms affect your life or stop you from achieving the standard of living you want for yourself.
You can empower your treating professional to understand and use functional impact language with the following resources:
- Alex Browne’s webinar “Evidence and the NDIA, clinical reports and NDIS language”
- Prompts for clinicians: Connecting NDIS functional domains, symptoms, functional impact & support
- The NDIS’ Supporting Evidence Form. This form takes the clinician through the areas of functional impact one by one.
You have now reached the end of the checklist. If you’re confident you are eligible, and have all the information at hand, you are ready to apply to the NDIS. Complete the NDIS Access Request Form to apply. You can find a copy of the form, and instructions on how to submit, on the NDIS website.
Once you’ve submitted it, you should hear back within 21 days. If your application is successful, the NDIS will contact you to arrange a planning meeting to discuss your support and funding needs.