Government Assistance in Australia for disabled people

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Government Assistance in Australia for disabled people

Jan 25, 2024

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Assistance for people living with a disability, including Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) comes from a variety of sources. Family carers may also be eligible for assistance. The assistance may be in the form of money, discounts or service access.

 

The safety net for people living in Australia with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and their families/carers has 3 main components:

  • Social security. Social security refers to a system of social welfare payments provided by the Australian Government to eligible people. This money is almost always administered by Centrelink, a program of Services Australia. Most payments are means tested.
  • Social support. People with disability need to have the same opportunities as other Australians to live ordinary lives and be included in all aspects of community and civic life. The National Disability Insurance Scheme provides this. There are around 4.3 million Australians who have a disability. Within the next five years the NDIS will provide an estimated 500,000 Australians who have permanent and significant disability with funding to purchase supports and services.
  • Health services. Australia’s health system is one of the best in the world, providing safe and affordable health care for all Australians. It is jointly run by all levels of Australian government – federal, state and territory, and local.

Social Security

Centrelink

Centrelink, is a Services Australia program of the Australian Government. It delivers a range of government payments and services for families, carers, parents, people living with disabilities and others.

Most Centrelink’s services are the distribution of social security payments.

Benefits that may be relevant to people living with PWS, their carers or families are:

Carer Payment

Australian residents caring for an Australian resident living with PWS may qualify for a fortnightly Carer Payment. To qualify, you must be eligible and complete a care needs assessment, and both the carer (and partner) and care receiver are subject to an income and assets test.

Carer Allowance

A Carer Allowance is a lower payment than the Carer Payment (above). Similar rules apply, however, the Carer Allowance is not assets tested and is not assessed as income for taxation purposes. Both parties are subject to the income test.

Child Care Subsidy

To qualify for the Child Care Subsidy your child must be 13 or younger (some exemptions apply), using an approved childcare service, you are paying childcare fees, and you meet residency and immunisation requirements.

Child Disability Assistance Payment

The Child Disability Assistance Payment is an automatic yearly payment if you get Carer Allowance for looking after a child with a disability or serious illness under the age of 16 years. The payment can be used to assist families to purchase support, aids, therapies, or respite that they require for their child with disability. Importantly, the payment will help carers to purchase the form of assistance that best suits the needs of the family.

Essential Medical Equipment Payment

An Essential Medical Equipment Payment is a yearly payment to help with energy costs to run essential medical equipment or heating or cooling used for medical needs.

You or the person you provide care for must meet eligibility criteria and apply.

Health Care Card

A Health Care Card is a concession card to get cheaper medicines and some discounts.

You may be eligible for a Health Care Card if you get specific payments or supplements from Services Australia, or if you’re on a particular tax rate.

Disability Support Pension

A Disability Support Pension (DSP) is financial help if you have a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops you from working. Most people living with Prader Willi syndrome are likely to qualify for the DSP once they reach 15 years and 9 months of age. You must also meet other eligibility criteria.

The person living with PWS may be able to get other payments, if they can’t get the DSP.

Pensioner Concession Card

A Pensioner Concession Card enables cheaper health care, medicines and some discounts if the person already gets certain payments from Services Australia, such as the DSP.

There’s no need to apply for a Pensioner Concession Card. Services Australia will send one to eligible people.

Other Government Benefits

Carer Card

Each state and territory has their own Carer Card, or similar program.

The Victorian Carer Card program includes weekend travel concessions with Public Transport Victoria, support and advisory services, etc.

Please search the Internet for the carer card program in your state or territory.

National Companion Card

The National Companion Card is for people who require attendant care support to participate at venues and activities. It means they won’t incur the cost of a second ticket for their companion. It brings together state and territory programs for eligible people with disability.

States and territories are responsible for issuing Companion Cards. Go to your state or territory website for relevant information.

(As at 29th September 2022)

Taxi Subsidy Scheme

The schemes are generally designed to makes transport more accessible and affordable for people with a severe disability. Most states and territories have a Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS). The TSS is called different things in each state or territory. Rebate amounts and conditions also vary from state or territory.

Social Support

Many commercial and charitable organisations offer a range of support services for people living with a disability across Australia. In most cases you will need to pay for the service provided.

However, the person living with PWS may qualify for a Government-funded National Disability Insurance Scheme Plan to cover these support service costs.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

The NDIS provides funding to eligible people with disability to gain more time with family and friends, greater independence, access to new skills, jobs, or volunteering in their community, and an improved quality of life.

It is the opinion of Prader Willi Syndrome Australia (PWSA) that all people living with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) are likely to be eligible to join the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), provided they meet the criteria.

Children younger than 9 with a disability or a developmental delay can apply to the NDIS nationally consistent early childhood approach, sometimes called ‘early intervention’.

The NDIS doesn’t provide the actual services. Instead, it provides a package of funding for you to purchase ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports to live an ‘ordinary life’.

NDIS representatives also connect anyone with disability to services in their community. This includes connections to doctors, community groups, sporting clubs, support groups, libraries and schools.  They also provide information about what support is provided by each state and territory government.

PWS is named on the NDIS List B: Conditions that are likely to result in a permanent impairment. This means that you will need to provide additional evidence of need to the NDIS for acceptance onto the Scheme. Evidence would usually be supplied by your paediatrician, General Practitioner (GP) or similar professional. Slightly different rules apply in Western Australia under List C.

The NDIS is a national scheme, which enables ‘transportability’. That is, you can take your funding with you to purchase supports in any state. You can find out more about each state here.

See PWSA articles about ‘PWS and the NDIS’ and ‘NDIS planning for adults’ for details.

Health services

In Australia, you can choose for treatment costs to be covered by either:

  • Medicare (Government funded) healthcare cover only, or
  • a combination of Medicare and privately (self-insured/self-funded) healthcare.

Medicare

Medicare is a free/subsidised healthcare for eligible residents. The Medicare system covers the costs for all or part of many common services such as a GP, specialist, tests and scans. Some services are not in Medicare, so check with your treating professional. The Medicare site has details and translations.

Private health insurance may help to cover some health care costs that are not funded (‘gap’) by Medicare.

Private Health Insurance

Some families chose to take out additional private health insurance. Most health providers may allow your son or daughter to remain privately insured under your family cover until they are a young adult. Check with the fund about age cut-off and when a separate policy would be needed for the person living with PWS.

There are 2 types of private health insurance:

  • Hospital cover for things like accommodation and theatre fees.
  • General treatment cover for services like dental and physiotherapy.

Many insurers offer combined hospital and general cover. Most private health insurance lets you:

  • Choose your own surgeon or other specialist.
  • Have treatment in a private hospital or as a private patient in a public hospital.

Note: Hospitals are a ‘food rich’ environment. This may prove challenging if a person living with PWS requires a hospital stay. See the article ‘Information for Hospitals and Emergency Department Staff’ and print to hand to the hospital. The Recommended Admissions Policy from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on the website is also a good guide for hospital staff.

You may be eligible to receive a private health insurance rebate, which reduces your insurance premium cost. The rebate has different amounts based on various criteria. You may not be entitled to any rebate.

Other benefits

Some retailers and businesses offer discount programs for people with a disability.

Qantas Carer Concession Card

The Qantas Carer Concession Card is issued to customers who may not be able to care for themselves when flying. A person is eligible if they need to have one-on-one support when seated on the aircraft for assistance with meals/drinks, toileting, administration of medication, orientation, communicating with the flight staff etc. A person is not eligible if they only need assistance boarding the aircraft, or when they arrive at their destination.

People living with PWS with significant support requirements (physical, sensory, intellectual, cognitive, or psychosocial) who are unable to travel on the aircraft without the full-time assistance of a support worker/carer may qualify.

Qualifying people can receive discounts on fares and accommodation. Conditions apply.

The Qantas Carer Concession Card applications and renewals can be found at People with a Disability Australia.

Get in touch

We welcome enquiries about anything related to PWS. This could be about the changes through the life stage of living with PWS, individual needs, services, getting help or interacting with the NDIS, the Quality and Safeguards Commission or the AAT.

Contact us