- The roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) over the next three years will see an increasing need for lawyers to be familiar with the scheme.
- Compensation payments received from another source may affect NDIS entitlements and may give rise to an obligation to repay the National Disability Insurance Agency.
- There is no formula for advising clients on the effect of a compensation payment on their NDIS status, however it is advisable to approach the Agency for an estimate of future impacts.
Provision of advice to a client seeking to finalise a personal injury compensation claim has for some time extended to the consequences in respect of Medicare, private health fund and Centrelink repayments and future entitlements. Similar advice may now be appropriate in respect of National Disability Insurance Scheme repayments and future entitlements, for clients who are already participants in the Scheme or for those who may become participants as it rolls out to full implementation over the next three years.
Although most lawyers practising in the injury compensation area may have had little contact with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (‘NDIS’) thus far, the accelerating roll out of the NDIS over the next three years will see an increasing need for familiarity with the scheme – at least in relation to its interface with receipt of compensation for personal injury.
Created by the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth) (‘Act’), entitlement to supports under the NDIS is determined by reference to age, residence and disability, with additional provision for early intervention supports in some circumstances. (See Bill Madden, Janine McIlwraith and Ruanne Brell, The National Disability Insurance Scheme Handbook, LexisNexis Australia, 2013). The age requirements are set out in s 22 of the Act, residence in s 23, and disability in s 24. Early intervention is addressed in s 25.
The disability requirement focuses on impairments that are, or are likely to be, permanent, giving rise to a substantially reduced functional capacity affecting the person’s capacity for social or economic participation.
Having begun in New South Wales on 1 July 2013 in the Hunter region, the trial phase of the NDIS moved into a full (albeit gradual) rollout from 1 July 2016, having reached some 35,000 participants across Australia at that point.
The most recent annual report of the National Disability Insurance Agency (‘Agency’), published in November 2016, indicates that the average annual participant package cost is about $39,000, including the cost of large residential centres. Participants with autism and related disorders represent the highest proportion of approved plans overall, at 31 percent. The second largest participant group is for persons with intellectual disability (including Down Syndrome), at 23 percent of approved plans.
An anticipated target of about 460,000 scheme participants across Australia is expected to be met by 2019.