Did you know the NDIS may fund assistance dogs?

The NDIS may fund assistance dogs if they are specially trained to help you do things that you otherwise couldn’t do as a direct result of your disability. 

Some assistance animals that may be funded include:

  • Dog guides (as guide dogs and seeing eye dogs are both branded terms in Australia, the NDIS uses dog guides as a general term for dogs that assist with vision impairments)
  • Hearing assistance animals
  • Physical assistance animals
  • Assistance animals for participants with long-term but stable PTSD

Will I be eligible to claim assistance dogs from the NDIS?

You may be eligible for an assistance animal if the NDIS determines that it would be reasonable and necessary for you. Some of the criteria that they look at include:

  • Whether the need for an assistance animal is directly related to your disability
  • If there is evidence that suggests that an assistance animal is effective and beneficial for a disability like yours
  • Whether an assistance animal would be value for money when compared with other supports
  • If the animal meets the NDIA’s definition of an assistance animal

How does the NDIA define assistance animals?

The NDIA defines an assistance animal as “an animal that that is trained to do at least 3 tasks that you wouldn’t be able to do because of your disability”. These tasks should:

  • Be things that the animal wouldn’t naturally do
  • Reduce your need for other funded supports

What evidence does the NDIA look at when determining what is effective and beneficial?

When deciding whether an assistance animal would be effective and beneficial for your disability, The NDIA would look at:

  • Published or referred academic research
  • Agreement of expert opinion
  • Your lived experience
  • The experience of your carers
  • The learned experience of the NDIS

Do I need NDIA approval to fund an assistance animal?

You will need NDIA approval before you can use funding in your NDIS plan for supports related to assistance animals. If the NDIA decides that the animal meets their criteria, funding will be included in your Assistive Technology budget. The NDIS will not fund an assistance animal if it was bought prior to having the funding approved in your plan.

When seeking approval, an assessment will need to be conducted. Providers that may conduct the assessment include:

-an allied health professional

-an accredited assistance animal provider

-a mobility instructor (for dog guides)

An assessment may need to be carried out by multiple providers to ensure the NDIA has all the information they need to make a decision.

What may be funded?

Once you’ve been approved, The NDIA may fund the cost of getting an animal from an accredited provider. An accredited provider should be one that is registered with either:

  • The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission or
  • The relevant state or territory authority for assistance animals

The NDIA may also fund the ongoing maintenance costs to keep the animal healthy during its working life. Some examples of maintenance costs include:

  • Food
  • Grooming
  • Flea and worm treatments
  • Medication
  • Vaccinations
  • Vet services

Costs like these will be funded in your Core budget as Consumables.

Your IDEAL plan managers can help

Many providers of supports associated with assistance animals are not NDIA-registered. As such, the NDIA encourages Participants to self-manage or use an NDIS plan manager for these supports. For more information, get in touch by calling 1300 800 110 or sending an email to manager@idealplan.com.au.