NDIS age cap leaves those over 65 without adequate support

14th March 2016

Independent Senator for South Australia Nick Xenophon says anomalies and loopholes in the National Disability Insurance Scheme are leaving many Australians worse off with the NDIS.

Senator Xenophon spoke to the media today with SA resident Valerie Mudie, aged 70, who has been blind since her early 30s as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Ms Mudie contacted Senator Xenophon because many disabled people over age 65 will have no support from the NDIS, because the scheme excludes those who are over 65 at the time of its commencement, or who acquire a disability after turning 65.

In a letter to Senator Xenophon, Ms Mudie describes the situation as this:

I contacted your office today regarding the many disabled people over age 65 who have no support from the NDIS and no disability support in My Aged Care, because they would be aged 65 or older at the time of the NDIS roll out. Instead this group of people are being shunted into My Aged Care and unlike those within the NDIS will have to pay towards any supports they need, they will also be means tested, unlike those within the NDIS. While Home Care packages within My Aged Care (MAC) are important for many, there are no specific disability supports to help individuals who want to be independent, who want to be out and about and connected with their community. Most supports within My Aged Care are aimed at the frail aged and keeping people comfortable in their home.

The latest news heard via the grapevine, is that now the Government will be forcing more extra charges on seniors with a disability. It seems if a disability agency should receive Government funding, that agency will now be required to ask anyone over the age of 65 to contribute toward services they require, this could be an hourly fee per service, though not yet confirmed what services or what fees will attract a fee. If people in this age group are already paying towards a Home Care package through MAC, they will not be able to find extra money to pay a disability agency for services as well, when it comes to food on the table, paying a medical bill, finding money for a disability service will probably will not be a priority.

Ms Mudie set out a telling example for those who are vision impaired in her letter:

Two blind people on a street corner, both 66 years of age, both with guide dogs. One individual is accessing full support from the NDIS, that person is not means tested and all services are free, they do not have to co-contribute towards any costs. This person also receives full cover for all the costs associated with the guide dog, vet bills and dog food costs are covered.

The other person, accessing services through My Aged Care is already probably paying towards a home care package, is also paying all the costs associated with his/her guide dog, is also means tested and has none of the specific disability supports on offer help him or her maintain an independent lifestyle and, in the future, if the new flagged fees for service comes in, this person may also be paying an hourly fee if they require services through an agency. What makes one person more worthy of receiving support than another?

Senator Xenophon said: “The NDIS is a great program that’s deserving of full support from both government and the community. But it is important that people like Valerie aren’t left worse off by the rollout of the NDIS – that clearly wasn’t intended, and this anomaly needs to be fixed ASAP.”

Senator Xenophon will make representations to Social Services Minister Porter on behalf of Ms Mudie and others facing a similar scenario.

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