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Helping you get on the road

It is common for people to rely on a car or another type of vehicle to travel to appointments, visit loved ones, or even go on a holiday. So, it can be hard when your vehicle is not easily accessible or practical for you to drive.

Recently, the NDIA released new guidelines for vehicle modifications and driving supports for people with a disability. In this article, we summarise all the information you need to know about the update.

What are vehicle modifications and driving supports?

Vehicle modifications and driving supports are changes made to a vehicle which allow you or your family member to drive or be a passenger. This can include fitting assistive technology (AT) into a vehicle, transferring modifications between vehicles, access to specialised or additional driving lessons where your disability impacts your ability to learn, as well as the option to trial passenger modifications. These changes may help you become more mobile, take part in social and work life, pursue your goals, and increase your independence.

To make modifications to your vehicle, you or a family member must:

  1. own the vehicle you intend to modify,
  2. have found a vehicle to purchase or lease, or
  3. have permission to modify a regularly used vehicle.

View more information about vehicle modifications and driving supports here.

What modifications are funded by the NDIS?

Vehicle modifications and driving supports funded by the NDIS must directly relate to your disability. For example, if your main form of mobility is using a wheelchair and you can no longer be safely transferred from the wheelchair into your vehicle, you might be able to access funding to modify the vehicle for wheelchair access.

The NDIS may also help with any additional insurance, inspection or engineer certification costs associated with the proposed modifications. The cost of transport while the changes are being made as well as the cost of maintenance or repair of the modifications may also be considered by the NDIS and included in your funding plan.

The NDIS does not fund any usual motor vehicle expenses like vehicle registration, insurance, and running costs like fuel, servicing or general repairs. Additionally, modifications like additional seating for family and friends, or passenger upgrades like the installation of air-conditioning or music systems are also excluded as they are not disability-related modifications.

To view the full list of what may be funded by the NDIS as well as their exclusions click here.

 

Steps to getting vehicle modification funding:

For the NDIS to decide whether or not to include funding for vehicle modifications in your plan, you will be required to provide evidence to support your request.

 

There are two main types of vehicle modifications:

 

  • Passenger Modifications are where the person with a disability will be transported as a passenger in the modified vehicle.

An Assistive technology assessment from an allied health provider, like a Montrose Occupational Therapist, is a good starting point. Our OT’s can discuss your needs and goals with you to help identify the most appropriate AT or supports. This assessment can then be used to tell the NDIS what new modifications are proposed, or if there are already existing modifications on a vehicle it will confirm whether these are safe and meet your need for modified transport. Our OT’s can complete the required NDIS vehicle modification application and the cost of this AT assessment can be funded by your capacity building supports budget.

 

  • Driver Modifications are where the person with a disability will drive the modified vehicle themselves.

If you are planning to drive the vehicle yourself after it has been modified to meet your disability-related needs, this assessment and driver training needs to be completed by a Driver Trained Occupational Therapist. You should also check with your GP to ensure you meet the national Fitness to Drive medical standard, as this may impact the AT you require.  While Montrose does not provide this particular service, our OT’s will be able to refer you to someone who can support you in this area. Finally, if you are planning to modify a vehicle which is more than 5 years old and no longer covered by warranty, you will be required to provide a vehicle condition report from a licensed vehicle modifier or certifier, to the NDIS. The report will confirm that your vehicle is legal and safe, as well it’s likely longevity and reliability as a mode of transport. The cost of the report can be funded in the core consumables part of your plan.

 

All modifications and supports must meet the NDIS reasonable and necessary criteria, which can be viewed here.

When you need a quote:

The evidence you need to provide depends on the cost of your vehicle modifications.

  • Low-cost AT: No quote is required for AT under $1,500
  • Mid-cost AT: If the item or changes to your vehicle are estimated to cost between $1,500 – $15,000 you may not need an itemised quote but it is useful to give it to the NDIS if you have one.
  • High-cost AT: for equipment that costs more than $15,000 you will need an assessment by a professional AT advisor in addition to an itemised quote for the proposed modifications.

Our tips for you:

 

  1. Get advice before buying assistive technology, like vehicle modifications. Montrose Occupational Therapists can help identify what supports you might need now, or in the future.
  2. Book a vehicle modification assessment with a Montrose Occupational Therapist. To get vehicle modifications included in your NDIS plan you will need evidence or an assessment from an allied health professional (or GP and Driver Assessor for driver modifications). This ensures the NDIS knows what equipment is required and how the modifications relate to your disability. Our experienced OT’s can prepare the required documentation for your application, connect you to suppliers, and help you select a quote!
  3. Consider a low-cost piece of AT. This could be a turning seat cushion, a handy bar, or any other piece of equipment which is available off the shelf and authorised for use in a motor vehicle. You won’t need a quote if the item is under $1500 and if your vehicle is less than five years old, you won’t need a vehicle condition report either. Discuss with an experienced Montrose OT to see if this option is right for you.

 

For more information, visit ndis.gov.au/vehiclemods, or contact your support coordinator.

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