More than just furry friends, assistance animals can support people with disability to live safely, become more independent and complete everyday tasks.
Today we take a look at what the NDIS considers when funding assistance animals and the evidence required to support a funding application.
What is an assistance animal?
The NDIS describes an assistance animal as one that is “specially trained by an accredited assistance animal provider to help you do things you can’t do because of disability” .
Like all NDIS funded supports, an assistance animal will only be funded if it meets the regular NDIS funding criteria and is considered to be a reasonable and necessary support.
The NDIS also looks at whether the assistance animal:
- Offers support that relates directly to your disability
- Helps you to pursue the goals in your plan
- Is effective, beneficial and value for money
- Meets the definition of an assistance animal and is trained by an accredited provider
- Can actively do at least three tasks that you can’t do because of your disability
- Has passed the public access test.
Examples of assistance animals that may be funded by the NDIS include:
- Dog guides (also known as guide dogs or seeing eye dogs)
- Hearing assistance animals
- Physical assistance animals
- Assistance animals for some participants diagnosed with long term but stable post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are very specific criteria relating to this, so be sure to read the NDIS Assistance Animals Guidelines for more information.
The NDIS does not provide any detail about the types of animals it may fund. Dog guides (sometimes referred to as therapy dogs) are the most common animals used for disability support.
Supports the NDIS may fund.
The NDIS may fund “reasonable and necessary” supports related to assistance animals including:
- A suitable and qualified animal
- Associated participant assessment
- Provider incurred animal training costs
- Costs associated with maintenance of the animal during its working life.
Applying and providing supporting evidence.
The application process for assistance animals is quite detailed. The NDIS has an Assistance Animal Assessment Template that will help you provide all the required information.
Evidence needs to be supplied in writing with input from:
- An NDIS participant assistant animal provider
- Allied health professionals
- The NDIS participant.
Guidelines for supplying information and evidence.
There are criteria your application must meet and you’ll need to provide evidence to show that you meet each requirement. We’ve summarised some of the main guidelines below.
Safety and risk.
- An assistance animal will not be funded if it is likely to harm the participant or pose a risk to others. The primary handler must be able to control, care for and maintain the wellbeing of the animal.
- Funding won’t be provided if there is risk to the wellbeing and safety of the animal.
Achieving goals, objectives and aspirations.
- You need to provide evidence of how the assistance animal will help you work towards and/or achieve the goals, objectives and aspirations included in your NDIS Plan.
Disability related support.
- An assistance animal should help you with your disability support needs. This is different to a pet that may help you with needs that aren’t related to your disability (such as companionship or fun).
Value for money.
- The benefit of the assistance animal relative to the cost of other supports that may achieve the same outcome
- How the assistance animal will reduce the need for other supports and over what time period.
Effective and beneficial.
- How the assistance animal will perform at least three tasks that you can’t do because of your disability
- Confirmation of training and qualifications of the assistance animal.
Can you use NDIS funds to train your own pet?
Unfortunately not. The NDIS will not fund a participant to train their own dog or other pet to be an assistance animal. It also does not generally provide funding for training an animal before it becomes a qualified assistance animal.
Can you use NDIS funds to buy a pet?
No. The NDIS will only fund an animal if they meet the requirements of an assistance animal. The animal must be fully trained and qualified.
Want to know more?
If you’d like to speak to a member of our crew to learn more about how to make the NDIS work for you, please call us on 1300 05 78 78, contact us via our website (online chat available) or email email@example.com.
If you’re looking for a not-for-profit plan manager, you can sign up with Leap in! today.
Originally published on 07 August 2020, updated 22 May 2023.