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How to access the NDIS: A Step-by-Step Guide

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a vital support system for over 631,000 Australians living with disabilities. For those new to the scheme, the process of how to access NDIS funding can seem overwhelming. If you – or someone you know – recently got a diagnosis and are now wondering how to best access the NDIS, this guide is for you.

Step 1: Check Eligibility

Before diving into the NDIS application process, it’s crucial to determine eligibility. Broadly, these are the requirements you need to fulfill:

Age – Individuals must be under the age of 65. If you’re applying for a child under the age of 9, you have to meet the requirements for the early childhood approach.

Residency – You must live in Australia, be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or Protected Special Category Visa holder.

Disability or early intervention – Is your disability permanent? Is it caused by an impairment? Does it affect work, studies, and social life? If you don’t fulfill all the disability requirements, you might still qualify for early intervention.

For a more in-depth look at the requirements, the NDIS eligibility checklist has some useful information.


Step 2: Complete your NDIS access request form

Once you’ve reviewed the NDIS eligibility checklist and confirmed you tick all the boxes, you can start your application process. You can either contact your local area coordinator (LAC) or download a NDIS access request form.

Tip! We recommend downloading and filling out the NDIS access request form directly if you’re in a regional area. This is because there are limited LACs in regional areas.

Getting access to NDIS funding starts with writing a robust application. Therefore – seek help from a general practitioner (GP) to complete the NDIS access request form. You should also provide as much evidence as possible to support the application. Evidence can be in the form of reports or assessments that showcase how the disability impacts daily life, including learning, self-care, self-management, mobility, and motor skills.

Submit the completed NDIS access request form by mail or email. After you’ve sent your application, you’ll have to wait until you hear back from the NDIS. But you can still do a lot in the meantime – such as preparing for your planning meeting.


Step 3: Plan for Your First Meeting

A planning meeting is your chance to meet the planner who will approve your plan. Before the meeting, the NDIS will already have created a draft budget based on the information you provided in your NDIS access request form. During the meeting, you’ll discuss the draft budget, if it meets your needs and if any changes are needed. These are a couple of things to consider ahead of the meeting:

Do you want to bring an advocate? This can be a friend, family member, or anyone else who can support you.

What supports do you think you require? Do you think you’ll need fortnightly occupational therapy? Daily personal care? Consider the specific supports you need and if you can, gather supporting evidence from a GP or other healthcare providers.


Step 4: Investigate Plan Management Options

If this is your first interaction with the NDIS, it’s important to understand the three ways in which you can manage your NDIS funding. These options are:

Plan Management: A provider, of your choice, supports you in managing your budget. A plan manager will also help you find suitable supports that meet your budget requirements.

Self-Management: You manage your own NDIS funding. Self-management provides great flexibility to choose your own supports to achieve your goals. But with more freedom comes more responsibility, and it’s essential to be aware of the pros and cons of self-management before you go down this route.

NDIA Managed (Agency Managed): The NDIA manages your plan. You can choose from a range of NDIS registered providers, and these providers can claim payment directly from your NDIS funding.

New participants often prefer a Plan Manager to help with guidance and support. If you’re interested in finding a plan manager, check out our resource on tips on choosing the right plan manager for you.

Accessing the NDIS may initially seem daunting but breaking it into manageable steps can make the process more manageable. With careful planning, understanding the eligibility criteria, and exploring funding management options, you can confidently start your NDIS journey and be sure you’re taking steps to get access to support. But if you still have questions one of Plan Navigators Support Coordinators can chat through them with you. We can be contacted on 08 6118 9450 or send us an email to [email protected], ask to speak to someone in our Support coordination service who will book a time in with you.