Are you, or are you the carer of or authorised representative of, a NDIS participant? As of 1 July 2022, a few changes have been made to the legislation which the NDIA states: “….will enable the NDIA to make processes easier and better for NDIS participants.”*
So, what are these changes and how might they impact participants?
The changes that you need to be aware of involve the changes to what we all once knew as a ‘plan review’. This has been causing some confusion to participants, so the amendments attempt to reidentify the term and introduce: ‘variation’ and ‘reassessment’.
A plan can be ‘varied’ at a participant’s request. Variations are not usually significant changes and can include the following:
- To fix a small or technical error
- Update how the funds in your plan are managed
- Update who will provide support and how much support will be provided
- Where an adjustment needs to be made due to a change in the reassessment date of your plan.
The NDIA can also decide, itself, to make a variation to your plan – either way, there should be consultation between you and the NDIA.
If you have made the request for a variation, NDIA will either approve the variation, decline the variation or approve something different to what you requested (a variation of a variation??). The NDIA has 21 days in which to respond to your request for a variation.
A reassessment happens:
- When your plan reaches its reassessment date (usually annually); or
- If there are significant changes to your situation – for example, if you are moving out of home for the first time.
Like the request for a variation, the NDIA has 21 days to respond to your request for a reassessment.
The term ‘review’ is now applicable to the process which requires the NDIA to reconsider (review) a decision that they made, which you do not agree with.
Many decisions are reviewable. The most common are:
- Eligibility for the NDIS
- Funding for a specific support
If you do not agree with the outcome of an internal review, you can request the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT or the Tribunal) to review the decision. The AAT reviews decisions of various government bodies (think Centrelink) and it is a more formal and structured process.
According to the recent legislation amendments, if a review is requested the original decision and any subsequent variations or reassessments are considered.
Be aware that there are time limits to making these applications which are often very sensitive – that is, once the time to apply for an external review has expired it becomes somewhat of an ordeal to make an application.
Although the AAT encourages a ‘user-friendly’ environment, you are entitled to receive advice from, or instruct, a lawyer who can assist or represent you through this process. Lara Legal provides NDIS appeals support and assistance and you should not hesitate to contact us for further information on 0415 263 345.
Plan Extensions and Plan Rollovers
It does not appear that there were any specific amendments to the legislation made in regard to these however, NDIA states that, at least for the time being, automatic plan renewals (introduced during Covid) will remain in place.
Fluctuating Impairments – including for those with a psychosocial disability
The other important amendment to the legislation which should be mentioned is that there has been some clarification about episodic and fluctuating impairments. These can be considered permanent when determining eligibility to the Scheme, including for people with a psychosocial disability.
There are some additional amendments to the legislation which provide limited direction to the various players – such as, recognising the importance of carers and family in the principles of the NDIS Act. How, or indeed if, this ‘recognition’ will have any impact on how the NDIA conducts itself is yet to be seen.
If you would like any further information regarding the above or require assistance with the NDIS appeals process, contact Lara Legal.