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28 April 2020

NDIS COVID-19 update: Temporary flexibility for low cost AT.

NDIS participants can now use their funding to purchase a broader range of low cost assistive technology (AT) to access essential supports during the coronavirus pandemic.

The changes will only be in effect until September 2020, unless extended by the NDIA.

With many services and supports switching to online delivery due to the need for social distancing, access to technology is more important than ever.

The NDIS has announced that participants may be allowed to access low cost AT items, including tablets, in consultation with existing support providers.

What low cost AT items are included?

AT items that may now be flexibly purchased if participants meet the criteria include smart devices (such as tablets).

Any purchase must be a reasonable and necessary support that relates to your disability and helps you to pursue your goals. It must also meet additional criteria (see below for more detail).

Pricing limits for low cost AT items.

Participants are able to spend up to $1,500 on low cost items from their existing budgets. However, they should not spend more than $750 on electronic devices for the purpose of maintaining existing services such as online video classes.

Top tip.
As a guide, participants should spend no more than $600 on a tablet.

Criteria for using existing NDIS funding.

Participants will be able to use their funding flexibly to purchase low cost AT using their existing Core – Consumables budget.

The following criteria must be met:

  • The device will be used to maintain funded NDIS supports like a program or therapy (for example physiotherapy)
  • The provider has confirmed in writing that the device is necessary to continue supports and services while maintaining physical distancing requirements
  • The device or item is of the lowest specification that will allow funded supports to be continued.

The participant cannot already own or have access to another suitable item that would meet their needs. For example, through their employment or family ownership.

Important exclusions.

  • The device must be related to your disability. It cannot be purchased for entertainment, education or gaming
  • Smart phones, smart watches or tablets with mobile connections (your tablet must to connect to the internet over wifi)
  • Only one device can be purchased
  • Internet connection and data costs are considered ordinary living costs and are not covered by the NDIS
  • The new policy does not cover software. Apps which have been specified and approved in an NDIS Plan can continue to be paid for with NDIS funding
  • Replacements for loss or damage are not covered
  • Additional hardware and accessories such as screen protectors, cases, additional chargers, selfie sticks and cables are also excluded.

Some additional accessories may be purchased if they relate directly to your disability such as mounting on a wheelchair.

The “lowest specification” requirement.

The NDIS will only fund the minimum items that meet your requirements unless a top of the range option is required because of your disability.

Example 1 – Electronic devices

Devices with extra storage, larger screen size or other additional features do not meet the lowest specification requirement.

Only participants who require ‘head tracking’ or other sophisticated solutions are likely to be approved for a large screen tablet.

Example 2 – Gym equipment

If you are able to continue your gym training at home with the use of a theraband and fitness ball, this would be considered the “lowest specification” requirement. In this case, you could not spend your funding on a full gym set.

Renting an item should be considered instead of buying if it represents better value for money.

Low cost AT and your NDIS budgets.

Participants can use funding flexibly to purchase low cost AT from their Core Supports – Consumables budget.

System changes will be made to ensure participants who do not have funding available in their Core budget for Consumables also have access to this funding flexibility. We will provide an update when more information becomes available.

Top tip
You should be able to flexibly access these funds from 9 May 2020. 

Where you can purchase low cost AT: agency, plan and self management.

The usual requirements for registered and non-registered providers apply based on the way your NDIS Plan is managed.

If your NDIS plan is managed by a plan manager like Leap in! or if you self manage, you can choose to use registered or non-registered providers. That means you can purchase low cost AT from any provider or store, either in a shop or online.

Agency managed participants can only make purchases from NDIS registered providers.

Make the switch to plan management with Leap in!

Switching all or part of your NDIS plan to plan management will give you the freedom to choose your own providers for low cost AT and other supports.

If you have any questions about how any of these changes apply to you, give us a call on us on 1300 05 78 78 use online chat available on our website.