Assistive technology is a broad term that can include everything from adaptive cutlery to motorised wheelchairs and even home modifications.
With different types, values and risk levels, it can be hard to get your head around AT.
Today the Leap in! Crew answers your most frequently asked questions about AT so you have a better chance of benefiting from the wide-ranging technology available.
For a reminder about AT, read our previous articles Automatic approvals for AT purchases up to $15,000 and What is assistive technology?
What are ‘low cost’ items when it comes to assistive technology?
Low cost items are considered by the NDIS to be items costing less than $1,500. They are a Core support and available under the Consumables budget which means you can use the budget flexibly to purchase what you need (some exceptions apply).
They do not require a quote or specific approval from the NDIS before purchasing, although they do need to meet the “reasonable and necessary” requirements.
Assistive technology under $1,500 that falls into the ‘low cost’ category might include items such as modified cutlery, walking sticks and non-slip bath mats.
Can you please explain how the $15,000 limit for AT works?
The upper limit for automatic approval of assistive technology purchases has increased from $5,000 to $15,000.
Providing you have the relevant evidence and the funding in your plan budget, the NDIS will automatically approve funding for AT items up to $15,000. No quote is required.
However, you do need to obtain a letter or report from an AT advisor outlining the item, how it will assist and why it is the best value for money.
My child is using some apps as part of their therapy sessions. Can I purchase a mobile phone or tablet with their NDIS funds?
The NDIS won’t usually pay for a tablet or mobile phone to run apps or assistive technology, even if an AT advisor or therapist supplies a letter of recommendation.
These items are considered day-to-day living costs or general household expenses that the NDIS doesn’t fund in most cases.
The NDIS says it may only fund such a device if it is “solely and directly” related to the person’s disability needs. For example, if the device is the only way your child can communicate.
Apps related directly to support needs or goals can often be purchased with NDIS funds. The NDIS won’t usually fund gift cards for iTunes or Google Play, so it is best to buy apps yourself and obtain reimbursement.
Does “higher risk” AT refer to items that cost more?
The NDIS has two product risk categories for assistive technology: low risk and higher risk. While higher risk technology is often more expensive, this is not always the case.
For example, bedsticks, transfer aids, postural supports, orthotics and many pressure care items may fall under the low cost AT category but are still considered higher risk.
Higher risk items are generally more complex and often require personalised setup. For this reason, advice from an AT advisor or assessor is required before purchase. The NDIS will not fund some high risk items such as trampolines or swings.
What should I do with AT funded by the NDIS that is no longer needed?
If you have purchased the equipment, you can take it to a service in the community that accepts and refurbishes used equipment or you could donate it to charity.
If it is under a lease agreement, you will need to arrange to return it to the provider.
Depending on the item, you may also be able to sell it privately.
Who is the best person to help with an assistive technology funding request?
The right person to assist depends on the technology. For simple technology, an AT mentor or independent living centre can provide information stating your goals, the options that have been considered and a clear indication of your needs.
For more complex technology, the person should be a competent professional such as an occupational therapist or physiotherapist. They will consult with you on your needs and provide a succinct report, including your aims, options and funding requirements.
How do I know how much AT funding to ask for?
For example, allow around $50 each for everyday items such as adapted grip cutlery and non-slip bathmats or $150 for elbow crutches.
If the items needed are not listed, note how they will help you achieve your goals, a brief description and an approximate cost to take to your next plan meeting.
Keep in mind that the NDIS will often explore lower cost options if they’re available.
What do I do if assistive technology breaks or needs maintenance?
If you own the equipment and it has recently been purchased, contact your supplier for a warranty repair.
For older equipment, your NDIS plan may include funding for repair and maintenance.
If you have assistive technology in your plan, be sure to check that money is allocated for repair and maintenance at each plan review meeting.
We are here to help.
If you think assistive technology can help you live your best life, book a free NDIS planning session with the Leap in! Crew and we will take you through the steps to ensure you are prepared for your plan meeting.
Originally published 25 June 2019, updated 6 February 2022.