Q and A - 15 September

Posted on 15 September 2017

How does the process for purchasing Assistive Technology (AT) work?

How you purchase your assistive technology depends on your needs, how your plan is managed, whether or not you need an assistive technology (AT) assessment, and the level of complexity your assistive technology is classified as.

There are 4 levels of AT complexity.

The NDIS AT Complexity Level Classification document on the website outlines some examples for each complexity level and provides guidance on when an AT assessment may be required. You can also refer to the Assistive Technology FAQs for more information.

Do I need assessments for purchasing AT?

If you have identified that you may need assistive technology (AT) during the planning process, your NDIS plan may include funding for an AT assessment. The assessment can assist you and the NDIA to understand what arethe most appropriate AT solutions to meet your goals.

The NDIS AT Complexity Level Classification document provides guidance on when an AT assessment may be required. Low cost, low risk items (Level 1) do not need a form to be sent into the NDIS. However you can seek advice (from an Independent Living Centre, AT assessor) to help you with purchasing low cost, low risk AT.

Complexity Levels 2, 3 and 4 AT typically require an appropriate assessment form to be completed by or with the oversight of an AT Assessor with suitable experience in that AT. Some AT will need greater consideration due to particular participant or environment issues.

Where can I buy Assistive Technology items as a participant?

For low cost, low risk items, the NDIA expects participants will often go to a local store or the internet to find suitable AT that meets their needs.

For more complex AT items participants may be referred to their own State/Territory government AT provider scheme to obtain a quote to help establish the reasonable and necessary funding level for the AT item.

Participants may also source quotes from other suppliers they know. The quotes are then supplied to the NDIA who make an assessment and set the budget available for that AT item. Once the budget is set by the NDIA, the participant can then purchase the item.

Do I need to get a quote prior to purchasing AT?

The NDIS Assistive Technology and Consumables Code Guide outlines when a quote may be required for your funded AT supports.

In general, supports over $1,000 in value will require a quote prior to supply, while lower cost items can be directly authorised (fixed price) through the myplace portal. The low cost, low risk AT (typically <$50) doesn’t require a quote if you are buying them with your Daily Adaptive Equipment funds (in your Core budget). You will find more information on AT for participants and providers on the Assistive Technology page of the website.

What do I do if my Assistive Technology (AT) supports need emergency repairs or replacement?

Your NDIS plan should include funds (under the Capital budget) to cover repairs and maintenance costs for your Assistive Technology (AT) supports which have been identified as reasonable and necessary. The NDIS AT and Consumable Code Guide lists commonly used AT and consumable supports, including repairs and maintenance supports.

In the first instance, you should direct your repair and maintenance requests to the provider who supplied the AT. In some cases where the item is relatively new you may be entitled to a replacement or repairs free of charge as part of your consumer rights to address any faults (see the ACCC website).

More information on Assistive Technology can be found on the Assistive Technology page of our website.

Can you claim Medicare and health fund rebates for children’s services that we use under our NDIS plan?

The question you are asking could easily result in an allegation of fraud, if a person was to 'double-dip'. The Department of Finance, in relation to Grants, explains 'double-dipping occurs where a grant recipient is able to obtain a grant for the same project or activity from more than one source', which is essentially what we are discussing.

If a person were to utilise an invoice or a receipt, obtained as part of their provided NDIS supports to claim a benefit from Medicare for example, they could investigate, as the attempted fraud would be against them.

The NDIS Act and Rules provide guidance for what is funded under the Scheme. Basically, a support the NDIS pays for is not claimable against any other Commonwealth Program such as Medicare.

The NDIS will not fund or provide some supports, which are:

  • not related to the participant's disability
  • duplicates of other supports already funded by a different mechanism through the NDIS
  • relating to day-to-day living costs not related to a participant's support needs, or
  • likely to cause harm to the participant or pose a risk to others.

The health system has responsibility for assisting participants with clinical and medical treatment, which includes:

  • the diagnosis and assessment of health conditions
  • clinical services and treatment of health conditions – including all medical services such as general practitioners, care while admitted in hospital, surgery, the cost of medical specialists and so on
  • medications and pharmaceuticals
  • sub-acute care, such as palliative care, geriatric and psychogeriatric care
  • post-acute care, including nursing care for treating health conditions and wound management
  • dental care and all dental treatments.

You can view the Applied Health Principles here.

Individuals and families sometimes also have a role in funding the medical and clinical services, such as out of pocket expenses, gap payments and private health insurance fees. The NDIS will not cover those costs.

Should you suspect a fraud has been committed against the NDIS please email fraudreporting@ndis.gov.au, or call 1800 650 717. If you suspect fraud has been committed against other Commonwealth agencies or private medical insurers report it directly to them via their own fraud reporting mechanisms.

My family has multiple plans to manage. Do you have any suggestions how to stay on top of it all? Should I set up separate bank account for each plan?

If you choose to self-manage all or part of your NDIS budget, it is strongly advised that you have a separate bank account just for your NDIS funds (your NDIS bank account). As each plan is different, it would be helpful to have a separate bank account for each plan. As an NDIS participant, the bank account must be opened in your name. If the participant is a child, the bank account should be in the child’s name and the child’s representative must be listed as a signatory to the child’s account. If the bank account is not able to be opened in the participant’s name, the account must be in the name of the nominee or child’s representative who is approved to self-manage the NDIS funding.

Ultimately it does come down to how your family finds it best to manage the financial transaction of each plan. For further information about managing supports in your plan, including the different ways to process transactions, making service bookings and using the myplace Participant Portal, visit the participant section of the website.

My child is living with severe disability. My partner and I recently started to see a counsellor to help us support our son – does anyone know if this could be covered by his NDIS plan?

Yes, family support and counselling due to a family member’s disability may be funded by the NDIS. This support is available to build the skills and capacity of other family members to manage the impact of a participant’s disability on family life. You can find more information about this on the carers section of our website.

Outside of the NDIS, there are a number of supports available to carers. You can find out more about these supports by visiting the Carer Gateway website (external link), or calling 1800 422 737.