Our Thoughts

News and

Media Coverage

Applying to the NDIS for the first time: the Fighting Chance NDIS access checklist
June 5, 2023

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. 

Whilst resources such as the NDIS website and guides take you through the steps, the devil is in the detail to filling out the NDIS Access Request form.

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:

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:

  • Mobility
  • Communication
  • Social interaction
  • Learning
  • 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:

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.

Good luck!


Webinar: A practical guide to assistive technology and the NDIS

In this webinar, Fighting Chance's Senior Support Coordinator, Alex Browne, deep dives into the equipment, technology and devices (assistive technology) that help you, or your person, do things you can’t do because of your disability. She covers the following: - What...

Webinar: How to apply for the NDIS as a teen or adult

In this webinar, Fighting Chance's Senior Support Coordinator, Alex Browne, takes a look at accessing (or applying to) the National Disability Insurance Scheme for the first time, including: the eligibility criteria for accessing the NDIS, including disability...

Webinar: A guide to home and living supports

If you are an NDIS participant and want to live more independently, either now, or in the future NDIS home and living supports may be appropriate to help you achieve that goal. It's not always straightforward, though, to get the right funding, at the right time. In...

Webinar: Evidence and the NDIA; clinical reports and NDIS language

In this webinar, we'll guide you through all things evidence. Relevant to everyone with an NDIS plan, we break down:  What does the NDIA mean when they ask for evidence? What is the NDIA looking for in clinical reports? Examples of how evidence can be translated into...

Webinar: All you need to know about behaviour support plans

A guide to understanding, accessing and implementing a behaviour support plan under the NDIS. In this webinar, Senior Support Coordinator Alex Browne and Henry Ellen, Behaviour Support Practitioner, deep dive into: What is behaviour support? Who is behaviour support...

Positive behaviour support: how funding for behaviour support can support you in your day or SLES program

What is positive behaviour support? Positive behaviour support is a person-centred clinical support framework for people that have behaviours of concern. ‘Behaviours of concern’ means behaviours which negatively impact upon the quality of life or safety of a person...

Webinar: Disability advocates – know your rights

Watch this webinar, where Alex Browne, Fighting Chance Senior Support Coordinator, breaks down: What is an independent disability advocate? How an advocate can help you When to engage and how to find an advocate Process for feedback & complaints  Here are...

Webinar: How to implement your NDIS plan

Watch this webinar, where Alex Browne, Fighting Chance Senior Support Coordinator, breaks down: what are ‘Core’, ‘Capacity Building’ and ‘Capital’ funding? what do the names of the support categories really mean? how do I know which parts of my funding are flexible...

Webinar: Understanding how NDIS funding decisions are made

Learn how to ‘speak NDIS’. Empower yourself to best prepare the evidence for your plan reassessment and self-advocate towards better plan outcomes. Join us for this webinar, where Lisa and Alex break down: - NDIS legislation on "reasonable and necessary" criteria- Why...

Leaving school and thinking big: what does “ordinary” adult life look like to you?

There are few times of greater change than the transition from school to post-school. Whilst often a time of huge excitement and anticipation for the future, for school leavers with disability and their parents/carers, this can be a time of stress and uncertainty. The...