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Transport funding options under NDIS

NDIA funding of transport supports have been a confusing issue for many people, not least because the NDIA since inception of the NDIS has been actively minimizing the amount of transport funding in each participant’s funded plan.

NDIS transport support funding is limited to:

  • where transport support is reasonable and necessary in helping you, the participant reach your goals, objectives and aspirations in your Statement of Goals and Aspirations;
  • Supports that are directly related to your disability(e. functional impact of your disability impairment)that limits or excludes your independent use of public transport without substantial difficulty or risk – this is entirely different to the argument that there is no public transport available in your area;
  • assisting you to undertake activities so as to facilitate and enable your social or economic participation – or build your capacity to independently travel, including through personal transport-related aids and equipment, or training to use public transport.

However, the NDIA must also consider what is reasonable for families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide and NOT funded by NDIA. In relation to transport, this consideration may be different for participants who are adults compared to participants who are children, because it’s reasonable to expect that most parents drive their children to school and hobbies etc.. For adult participants, NDIA must consider:

  • the extent of any risks to the wellbeing of the participant arising from the participant’s reliance on the support of family members, carers, informal networks and the community;
  • the suitability of family members, carers, informal networks and the community to provide the supports that the participant requires, including such factors as:
    1. the age and capacity of the participant’s family members and carers, including the extent to which family and community supports are available to sustain them in their caring role;
    2. the intensity and type of support that is required and whether it is age and gender appropriate for a particular family member or carer to be providing that care; and
    3. the extent of any risks to the long-term wellbeing of any of the family members or carers; and
  • the extent to which informal supports contribute to or reduce a participant’s level of independence and other outcomes.

When you either are approaching your 1st planning session or undergoing a plan review, your transport needs will be considered for your NDIS plan.  IT IS VITAL YOU FULLY APPRECIATE WHAT IS POSSIBLE RATHER THAN RELY ON WHAT THE NDIS PLANNER SAYS THEY WILL GIVE YOU.

By knowing the options that are possible you will be better prepared to actively and fully document and present your need for transport supporting funding and able to stand up for yourself in the planning session as the NDIA’s goal with respect to transport is to limit any funding to level 1,2 or 3 which used to be the old mobility allowance.

YOU ARE ABLE TO GET MORE FUNDING THAN LEVEL 1 TO 3 IF ONLY YOU ARE AWARE OF YOUR OPTIONS

Transport funding options under the NDIS

Option A: 

The three levels of general funding support for transport which is usually paid to the participant fortnightly via your pension (it used to be the former mobility allowance).

Level 1 – The NDIS will provide up to $1,606 per year for participants who are not working, studying or attending day programs but are seeking to enhance their community access.

Level 2 – The NDIS will provide up to $2,472 per year for participants who are currently working or studying part-time (up to 15 hours a week), participating in day programs and for other social, recreational or leisure activities.

Level 3 – The NDIS will provide up to $3,456 per year for participants who are currently working, looking for work, or studying, at least 15 hours a week, and are unable to use public transport because of their disability.

NDIA planners may attempt to talk about this option as the only one available for transport funding in your plan.   This is not so.   You are able to request both this option and option B in your plan at the minimum.   The other options listed on this page will depend on your disability impairments and individual circumstances

Option B: 

Under the core supports part of the NDIS, since late 2019, NDIA planners are instructed in the NDIA Operational Guidelines to discuss transport costs associated with each core support activity …. then for each core activity add assessed reasonable and necessary costs of transport into that activity’s amount of funding.

TIP: WHERE POSSIBLE ENSURE THE PLANNER SPECIFIES THE TRANSPORT AMOUNT INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL COSTS OF THE CORE ACTIVITY

Whilst you can have options A and B in the same plan, there will be lots of pressure to be one or the other.  If pushed to choose then take option B because you have the chance of getting funding closer to the real costs of being able to get to and from each activity.

When preparing for your planning session for each core activity get quotes for the cost of the to and from travel to it from whichever provider you wish to use.

It’s possible to have a mix of transport providers on the support plan, for example:

  1. core activity 1 you need to use taxi – get a quote.  NDIA planner if you have the taxi subsidy scheme will push to use this so it saves them $.  NDIA considers this form of transport as General Transport
  2. core activity 2 might be via a community transport operator –  NDIA considers this form of transport as General Transport
  3. core activity 3 might be via paying your support agency for their worker to transport you in either the worker’s car or the support agencies car

TIP: FOR EACH ACTIVITY GET QUOTES FROM EACH PROVIDER OF YOUR CHOICE AND TAKE TO THE NDIS PLANNING MEETING – THEN ACTIVELY PROMOTE YOUR NEEDS AND STAND UP FOR YOURSELF.

General transport support relates to where a person is to pay another provider (transport provider?) to transport them to an activity that is not itself a support – or to a support that is delivered by another provider eg. to attend appointments or their place of work etc.

Tolls, parking costs etc are usually to be negotiated between the provider and the participant but under exceptional circumstances these too can be included in each core activity – but you will have to advocate for yourself.

Also under the core supports part of the NDIS, is the concept of specialist transport support.  This support item provides for specialised transport services for a participant to a school, educational facility, employment, or the community.  This support item is subject to quotation. It should only be used if it is a stated item in a plan.

Be aware that the NDIA has agreements with the States and territories for them to continue to provide supported school transport as an in-kind contribution to the NDIS, until other arrangements can be negotiated.

Option C: 

Under the capacity building part of the NDIS you can build in additional transport funding support for travel training provided there is a goal aimed at developing your life skills to travel more independently OR  you will need to demonstrate how developing these skills supports you in achieving one of your goals.

Option D: 

Under the capital grant part of the NDIS, depending on again your ability to link your request to your goals, it is possible to have the purchase of your own car.

You may think of some other options that work better for you. For example, some people may purchase their own vehicle, which their support team can use to transport them.

The NDIS will not pay for fuel as this is something everyone has to pay for (although there have been some extreme circumstances where they have).

Remember, you will need to think about vehicle safety and ensure you have adequate car insurance that provides cover if your support team is driving you in your own vehicle.

And remember if the vehicle requires any form of modification you can discuss the inclusion of these modifications too and additional to the purchase of a car.

Option E: 

Under the capital grant part of the NDIS, depending on again your ability to link your request to your goals, it is possible include funding to modify a vehicle (either an existing one or added to the purchase of a new car that is subsequently modified).

Option F: 

Under the assistive technology part of the NDIS, a diverse range of personal mobility equipment may be funded – not just the one-off purchase of the item, but also if that device requires eg regular servicing or requires some component that needs replacement (used to be the former Mass Medical Aids Equipment Program).

Personal equipment is that aimed at assisting you to move around their home or the community; including equipment for walking, wheelchairs and transfer aids.