Getting from A to B might sound easy, but for some people it’s not. Not having the right means of transport or the ability to pay for a taxi regularly or having to rely on family or friends to get around, can be frustrating. Having accessible transport (whether you’re in the driver’s seat or not) can provide you with more freedom and independence.
What are Vehicle Modifications?
Vehicle modifications are pretty much exactly what you might think – changes to a vehicle or the installation of equipment to help you safely access the car as either a passenger or the driver. Vehicle modifications fall under the NDIS Capital Supports category and is considered to be Assistive Technology.
Vehicle modifications can help you to:
Access the vehicle with or without a wheelchair
Carry a wheelchair in or on the vehicle without lifting
Be transported safely while seated in a wheelchair
Drive the vehicle with specialised controls or other adaptions
To have vehicle modifications funded by the NDIS, it will need to be determined to be ‘reasonable and necessary’.
Vehicle modifications and the NDIS
As with any NDIS funding, there are certain considerations that must be had based on the effectiveness of the vehicle modifications.
The NDIA will consider things like:
Whether the vehicle is more than five years old and over 80,000kms (under that, the vehicle is generally considered suitable to modify);
If modifications have been assessed and recommended by a qualifies occupational therapist;
If modifications will be specified and installed by a qualified supplier following the state or territory regulations;
If the vehicle is participant owned or owned by another person but has access for their transport needs; and
Whether the participant or other person can afford the ongoing vehicle running costs which include registration, regular insurance, fuel, repairs and maintenance.
For the NDIA to consider funding vehicle modifications that put the participant in the driver’s seat, the participant will need to have a valid driver’s licence when funding is requested, or be assessed as having the capacity to obtain a valid licence by:
An evaluation by a medical practitioner using the national ‘Assessing Fitness to Drive’ medical standards
A driving assessment by a driver trained Occupational Therapist
A driving assessment by the state licensing authority
The NDIA also may fund:
Driving assessments for obtaining a valid license
Driving lessons where lessons are required to use a modified vehicle
Additional insurance costs like additional insurance premium due to the modifications (NDIS will pay the difference for the modifications only)
Cost of engineering certification and other checks for initial registration
Cost of removal and/or reinstallation of existing modifications on to a new vehicle (if it’s considered practicable and value for money)
The NDIA will assess the modifications on their value for money. They will consider whether the vehicle modifications are the best option for achieving the participants driving and transport needs, if there is a less costly alternative, and the suitability of the vehicle.
The NDIA generally will not fund:
Purchase of a motor vehicle;
Regular insurance, registration or running costs;
Non-standard items, like auto docking where the person or their attendant is able to manually dock;
Driving supervision in order for a participant to accrue hours to pass a driving test; and
Major modifications (over $10,000) to a vehicle if it has been less than 8 years since the most recent vehicle modifications funding (unless the participant’s circumstances and needs have significantly changed).
Vehicle modifications are expected to suit participants’ long-term needs. Generally, the NDIS will not approve further modifications on the same vehicle, unless there are exceptional circumstances or significant changes to participants’ needs.
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