Dec 04, 2019

NDIS not available to people over 65: it’s “discrimination”, says Zali Steggall


Disability benefits cut out at the age of 65, leaving many older people with disability unable to cover the costs of their care, the Member for Warringah has told parliament.

The cut off is an example of “discrimination” against older people, said Zali Steggall MP, who presented a petition to parliament on Tuesday, the International Day of People with Disability.

The petition is calling for “urgent action” and changes to legislation that would allow increased support for people over the age of 65 who are living with disability.

Cross bench independents Rebekha Sharkie and Helen Haines are supporting Ms Steggall’s campaign for reform.

Ms Steggall told HelloCare, “It was a privilege to present the NDIS petition where I was able to represent what thousands of Australians want politicians to hear. 

“This petition was on behalf of 69-year-old quadriplegic Chris English who is a victim of age discrimination by NDIS, which doesn’t cover people over the age of 65.”

“Legislative changes are required to eliminate discrimination”

Ms Steggall told parliament that laws in Australia must change to remove the cut-off for NDIS funding for those aged 65 years and older.

Those already on the NDIS can continue to receive it past the age of 65, but those who become disabled after the age of 65 are not able to access funding through the scheme.

“Legislative changes are required to eliminate discrimination of older people with a disability,” said Ms Steggall.

“Older people are unable to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after the age of 65. 

“The maximum aged care Government subsidy of $50,250 per annum is insufficient for people who have extensive care needs, such as people who have quadriplegia. 

“Regardless of age, people over the age of 65 with disability should be entitled to access NDIS benefits to support them in receiving the care they require,” she said.

A spokesperson for The Department of Social Services told HelloCare, “The NDIS is not intended to replace the health or aged care systems. 

“For those 65 and over, there is a range of supports available within the aged care system that can be accessed through My Aged Care, which may be suitable for older people with disability.”

$250,000 funding gap for older people

Chris English and his wife Bobbie were in the gallery on Tuesday. The couple started the petition, which attracted 19,446 signatures.

Mr English was enjoying his 69th birthday with his family when he suddenly fainted and fell. He became a quadriplegic. 

“Had Mr English been 64 years old when the accident occurred, he could have accessed an NDIS plan and up to $300,000 in support to meet his needs,” Ms Steggall told parliament on Tuesday.

“Instead, being over 65, Chris is not eligible for NDIS and can only receive $50,000 under a My Aged Care plan. 

“This is not meeting his needs. It is age discrimination and is impacting many others in Australia.”

“The petition is about drawing attention to the changes that are required to eliminate discrimination against older people with a disability,” Ms Steggall said. 

“We either need an exemption to NDIS for people aged over 65 who have an accident or illness, or My Aged Care needs to better cater for those with a disability unrelated to ageing,” Ms Steggall concluded.

Ms Steggall said, “I encourage anyone in this position to make submissions to the Aged Care and Disability Royal Commissions.”

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  1. There’s another group who have completely been discriminited against in all this – those with existing disabilities they had before they turned 65 but who were over 65 before the NDIS rolled out in their area.

    I have a relative born with a condition that is progressively sending her blind. She had poor vision from childhood, finally hit the level where she was legally blind in her early 50s but being a self-sufficient and private person with a close family had not sought help from any social services or government support at the various stages until she couldn’t cope without it.

    So when the NDIS was rolled out in her area and she was already 65, she could no longer apply for support she would have been eligible for but had not applied for yet. My relative gets referred instead to MyAgedCare which has absolutely no support for her disability as it is not age-related.

    Someone else with exactly the same condition but who didn’t turn 65 till after the NDIS came to their area, can go on the NDIS and stay on the NDIS and get a huge amount more help.

  2. I started to lose my vision 30 years ago and became legally blind 20 years ago. I was over 65 at the time the NDIS was rolled out in my area so was excluded from the scheme. My Age Care is aimed at over 65s who require help with age related disabilities. I do not need or want this type of is my understanding that, unlike My Age Care, the NDIS is not means tested. Under the NDIS I could, for example, receive funding for obtaining and maintaining my Guide Dog. The decision to exclude over 65s from the NDIS is clear age discrimination.

  3. I priced a power wheelchair and found the price of wheelchaira astronomical
    The companies selling power wheelchairs have
    Sent the price thru’ the roof
    IE: price range from $30 000 to $54000
    And theycan do it because the government
    (Tax payers) the government uses tax papers money and people not on ndis can’t afford to purchase a power wheelchair because the companies that supply the chairs’ are ripping off people who can’t access the ndis.
    There should be a senate inquiry

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