This blog was published by Plan Partners, a leading Australian provider of NDIS Plan Management and Support Coordination. This is the second of their ongoing series. You can read more on their website.
For many people with a disability, transport is about much more than simply going from point A to point B – it’s about freedom, independence, socialisation, income, education and much more. That is why in many NDIS plans, transport plays an important part.
At Plan Partners, we are often asked the question: how does the NDIS fund my transport arrangements? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always a straightforward one, and the topic is often a source of confusion – so let’s take a closer look at the four ways that the NDIS can fund your transport arrangements:
1. Transport in Daily Life
If in daily life, your disability makes it uncomfortable or impossible to use public transport by yourself, you might be eligible to have ‘Transport Support’ funding (NDIS support category 2) included in your NDIS plan.
As with all NDIS supports, this is allocated using the reasonable and necessary criteria – in this case, could it be considered reasonable and necessary for you to get around by yourself using a bus, tram or train? These funds can then be used to help pay for taxis, rideshares, community transport, and other transport methods.
If you receive ‘Transport Support funding in your NDIS plan, your funds will most likely be paid directly into your bank account on a fortnightly basis to help contribute to your travel expenses. While Transport Support funding is classified as a core support, it’s treated somewhat differently by the NDIS and is displayed as its own category on your NDIS plan.
If the NDIS pays these funds to you directly and in advance, you cannot use Plan Management to help you manage your travel funds. You will need to self-manage this particular category. It’s important the NDIS has your current bank account details on file, or else you might not receive your funds, so head to the NDIS myplace portal to view and amend your bank details.
2. Travelling with a Service Provider for Community Participation
The NDIS can help you pay for a service provider to support you with social and community participation, e.g. going out for a coffee with friends or playing sport. This can also include their support with travelling to and from your home before and after the activity.
This support is covered in the ‘Assistance with Social and Community Participation’ (category 4) funding in your NDIS plan. Trips with a provider are usually charged at a per-kilometre rate, which has to be negotiated ahead of the time by you and your provider. Make sure you formally agree on the rate you will be charged and get it put in your service agreement so there’s no confusion or disputes down the track.
A provider can also charge up to 20 minutes when travelling from one NDIS participant to the next.
3. Building Your Independence through Transport
For many people with disability, getting around independently is an important personal goal – and one that falls under the NDIS capacity building category.
If your disability makes it hard for you to get around but you would like to learn to overcome these challenges, you might be eligible for additional funding under ‘Improved Daily Living’ (category 15). This funding can be used for things like public transport training or additional driving lessons, designed to build your independence, skills and confidence.
4. Specialised Vehicles
If you require a specialised, or modified, vehicle because of your disability, the NDIS may be able to help pay for modifications under ‘Assistive Technology’ (category 5). The NDIS won’t pay for the vehicle, but may cover modifications required to get in or out of your vehicle, or required to operate it. These modifications could allow you to:
- get in and out of the vehicle with or without a wheelchair;
- carry your wheelchair in or on the vehicle without lifting;
- be transported safely whilst seated in your wheelchair; or
- drive the vehicle with specialised controls or other adaptions.
The NDIS will only provide funding for a vehicle modification when it’s seen as offering value for money. If a less costly but equally effective alternative is available, the NDIS will likely not fund the modification. They may also choose to only fund an amount they deem as being reasonable and necessary and you’d have to cover the remaining amount.
And Some Handy Transport Tips…
- If you’d like transport support funding in your NDIS plan, be sure to ask for it in your planning meeting and be clear about why you need it, ensuring this is aligned with the NDIS guidelines.
- If you currently receive the Mobility Allowance, your payments will cease once you’ve transitioned to the NDIS. You will not automatically be given transport funding under the Scheme though, so remember to ask for it to avoid being caught out.
- Make sure you have Plan Management included in your plan. An experienced and independent Plan Manager, such as Plan Partners, can take care of the financial management of your NDIS funding, including the funding for transport costs, and advise you whether the NDIS will fund a certain type of transport or not.
- If you have Support Coordination in your plan, your Support Coordinator can help you understand how to use your plan to best meet your transport needs and find the right providers.
- There are many other transport assistance programs and initiatives. They can be a great help, but might impact your NDIS funding, so be sure to speak to someone about your options. Examples are:
- Companion Card: This card provides a free ticket to events where the person requires assistance.
- Taxi Subsidy Scheme: This scheme allows people to access concessional rates when they use a taxi. Every state has its own scheme, so it is best to Google ‘taxi subsidy’ and the name of your state to find out more.
As with anything related to the NDIS, everyone’s situation is unique and there’s often no one-size-fits-all approach to how transport is funded. The complexities of the topic might make it a little confusing to navigate, but it also means you might be eligible for additional funding to help you get around.
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