NDIS eligibility is based on several criteria including age, residency and disability. There are also specific requirements for children aged 0-9 and people with psychosocial disabilities.

If you think you may be eligible for the NDIS, you should get in touch with an NDIS partner who can help connect you with supports and apply for the NDIS. They will talk to you about your situation, the NDIS eligibility criteria, the application process, information and evidence you need to apply.

If you are eligible for the NDIS and your application is successful, your NDIS partner will work with you to create your first NDIS Plan.

We’ve outlined some of the important NDIS eligibility requirements below.

Mother embracing young daughter on the floor laughing

1. Age requirements.

To be eligible you need to be under 65.

Your age will determine whether you are eligible for early connections and the NDIS (under 9), or community connections and the NDIS (9 to 65 years old).


2. Residency requirements.

You must live in Australia and:

  • Be an Australian citizen or
  • Hold a permanent visa or
  • Hold a special category visa (SCV) – this is only for some New Zealand citizens.

You’ll need to supply evidence that you live in Australia. This can be via providing consent for the NDIS to access your Centrelink record or other associated information.

When confirming if you live in Australia, the NDIS will consider:

  • Where you live and your living situation (such as permanent accommodation through home ownership or rental)
  • Where your immediate family lives and where you spend time with them face-to-face
  • Whether you work in Australia
  • Whether you own property or assets in Australia and have an Australian bank account.

You might also have to provide information about how often you travel overseas and the duration of your trips. You can still work overseas or go on holiday but need to demonstrate to the NDIS that you have a long-term and meaningful connection to living in Australia.


3. Disability requirements.

The NDIS states that you must be able to meet each of the following criteria to be eligible for the NDIS:

  • You have a disability that is caused by an impairment
  • The impairment is likely to be permanent
  • The permanent impairment substantially reduces your functional capacity (see below) to undertake one or more of the following activities: moving around, communicating, socialising, learning or undertaking self care or self management tasks.


Want to know more about accessing the NDIS? Our latest ebook, Accessing the NDIS: A guide to eligibility and how to apply is designed to make the process easier.

Meeting the ‘disability requirements’.

To meet the disability requirements, the NDIS needs evidence that your disability is caused by at least one of the following impairments:

  • Intellectual – such as how you speak and listen, read and write, solve problems and process and remember information
  • Cognitive – such as how you think, learn new things, use judgement to make decisions and pay attention
  • Neurological – such as how your body functions
  • Sensory – such as how you see or hear
  • Physical – such as the ability to move parts of your body.

You may also be eligible for the NDIS if you have a psychosocial disability. This means you have reduced capacity to do daily life activities and tasks due to your mental health.


How does the NDIS assess whether a disability is permanent?

The NDIS will need evidence that you will likely have the impairment for the rest of your life. This includes after any available and appropriate treatment options have been explored.

The NDIS may consider:

  • If there are any medical, clinical or other treatments likely to remedy the impairment
  • Waiting for the outcome of any recent treatment
  • If treatment isn’t likely to help or improve the effect of the impairment.

If you meet the relevant eligibility requirements, the NDIS can fund supports that can help reduce or overcome the impact disability has on your daily life.


NDIS eligibility and reduced functional capacity.

Reduced functional capacity looks different for everyone. It’s all about your ability to undertake activities in certain areas:

  • Communicating
  • Socialising
  • Learning
  • Mobility
  • Self care
  • Self management (if older than 6)

The NDIS will also consider whether you need support from other people, assistive technology, home modifications or other similar disability-specific supports to complete these tasks.

See the NDIS Guidelines for more details. If you have more than one permanent impairment the NDIS will consider them together, to see if they substantially reduce your functional capacity.


What if you’re not eligible for the NDIS?

There may be other services that you can access such as those provided by the government or the community. Your NDIS partner can help connect you with those or create a community connections plan for you.

For children under 9 and their families, this is called early connections. For people aged 9–64, it’s called community connections.

NDIS eligibility if you have a mental health condition.

If your mental health condition results in psychosocial disability you may be eligible for the NDIS. A mental health condition alone may not meet the eligibility criteria.

You must meet the general eligibility criteria and provide evidence that:

  • You have a mental health condition (a diagnosis is not required and the condition does not need to be named)
  • The mental health condition has caused difficulties in your everyday life, and
  • Those difficulties mean you will likely always require NDIS support; and
  • The difficulties you experience as a result of your mental health issue have substantially reduced your ability to do everyday activities.

Learn more about NDIS eligibility if you have a mental health condition by downloading our Accessing the NDIS ebook.

Early intervention requirements and supports.

If you don’t meet the disability requirements for the NDIS you may still be eligible for early intervention. Early intervention means getting support early to reduce how much your impairment affects you.

They are generally only funded for a short time. There are different requirements for different age groups.

You must meet all of the following:

  • You have an impairment that’s likely to be permanent
  • Early intervention supports will help you (for example improve functional capacity to reduce the need for future disability supports)
  • The early intervention support you need is most appropriately funded by the NDIS.

Early intervention supports can be available for:

Support for children under 9: The early childhood approach.

The national early childhood approach (ECA) provides support to ensure children aged under 6 with developmental delay or under 9 with disability get the best possible start in life.

You do not have to apply for the NDIS to access supports under the early childhood approach. Some children and their families can access early connections and supports outside of the NDIS. Others will be assisted to apply for the NDIS, depending on individual needs.

Early connections and the NDIS.

Early connections are not the same as being on the NDIS. Children do not have to be eligible for the NDIS to access early connections.

Early connections are also available for a wider range of children in the community regardless of citizenship or visa status.

Early connections can include connections to:

  • Mainstream (government) and community services such as early childhood services, health services and family support services
  • Practical information that is relevant to the child’s development
  • Other families
  • Early supports
  • Apply to the NDIS.

If a child is eligible for the NDIS and the family chooses to complete an access request, assistance can be provided through early connections.

Is the NDIS income or asset tested?

The NDIS is not means tested and does not take into account your income or assets (such as your home or investments) when determining eligibility.

The NDIS was established so anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can access support to help them live their best life regardless of their income or assets.

How to make an NDIS access request.

  • For people aged 9-65: Contact your local NDIS office or NDIS partner. This person can then help connect you to disability supports in your local area or support you to apply for the NDIS if you’re eligible.
  • For children younger than 9: Check out The NDIS early childhood approach for children under 9 for more details and contact your local early childhood partner.
  • If you live in a remote or very remote area, have complex support needs or are in a hospital or justice setting, contact the NDIS for assistance. They can help you apply if you’re eligible. Or you can complete the NDIS access request form.

If you’re just getting started with the NDIS and want to learn more about the new PACE system, visit our dedicated PACE page.

What does Leap in! do?

Leap in! is an NDIS plan manager. We are an independent non-profit organisation that supports NDIS participants to get the most from their NDIS Plans. We don’t make decisions about whether you are eligible for the NDIS but we do help NDIS participants manage their budgets and prepare for their NDIS Plan and Plan reassessment meetings.

When you attend your NDIS Plan meeting, you will be asked how you want to manage your NDIS Plan. Plan management is one of the options. Choosing a plan manager like Leap in! is a bit like having a bookkeeper to help you with the financial aspects of your NDIS Plan.

There is no cost to you for plan management and there are some added advantages such as being able to use unregistered providers. Find out more about Leap in! and plan management


Information source: Applying to the NDIS, Operational Guideline, updated 01 February 2024.

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