Disability diagnosis: why it’s so important to get it right

Disability diagnosis
16 December 2020

Getting a correct disability diagnosis can take a lot of time, money and paperwork, but it is one of the best things you can do to make the most of your NDIS plan. Your disability support providers can only provide supports that you have funding for. If a diagnosis isn’t quite right, this can sometimes mean that people miss out on the services they need.

One of the first steps towards NDIS support is having your disability diagnosed. What this means is that your support needs will be assessed according to how your disability affects your life.

Why is this important?

If you need help in some areas but are not assessed correctly, you might not be able to get that support funded through your NDIS plan.

How does diagnosis work?

You will be asked to give information about your disability. Things like, how it impacts your daily life, and if it is permanent. In most cases, the information you provide needs to be backed up by a qualified health professional who has known you or treated you for some time. Their qualification must be relevant to the disability, for instance a speech pathologist might not be the right person to give information about someone with paraplegia.

What happens when you have an incorrect, or incomplete diagnosis?

In some cases, more evidence might be needed or the information you provided might be unclear. When this happens, the NDIA can ask more questions which may delay your access to the NDIS. Sometimes, the NDIA can even refuse your application for funding and you might have to start over.

Who do I see to get an intellectual disability or autism diagnosis?

If you have an intellectual disability or are autistic, chances are you have a relationship with either a Psychologist, Occupational Therapist, or Speech Therapist. These health professionals are all qualified to confirm your disability and provide information about how it affects your life.

What does the NDIS mean when they say ‘evidence of disability’?

The evidence you need to show varies from disability to disability. Generally speaking, the NDIS will want a health professional to conduct a standardised assessment. This is then presented to the NDIS as a form of proof of disability.

If you’re a bit lost on who to see and what disability assessments they will do, the NDIS has it covered.

It’s worth noting that providing evidence of your disability can be difficult. For instance, it might not always be easy to prove that a mental illness is permanent. Under the current system, the responsibility is on participants to provide evidence that is used to assess their eligibility. The bad news is, this can require a lot of time and effort and having to understand the NDIA’s checklist of what they consider a suitable disability. The good news is, this is changing in 2021.

New independent disability assessments are coming

Having to collect evidence to prove your disability is something that can be stressful and time consuming. As the NDIS evolves, changes are being made to the way things are done to make it fairer and easier to use. Soon, independent disability assessments will be introduced. This means someone you don’t know but who understands your disability will assess your capacity to manage everyday life. Their assessment will help determine what supports you need. It will mean you will no longer have to collect evidence yourself, and will help everyone get NDIS funding access faster.

What should I do now?

Your NDIS planner will try to work out what is reasonable and necessary, and diagnosis can play an important part in that, but there are other factors at play. You can help speed up the process by keeping records of your treatment history, or a list of the therapists and doctors you have seen, and thinking about the type of supports you would like access to.

We have written other blogs on the topic that have plenty of tips to help prepare you for planning meetings and understand the importance of a correct diagnosis. Start here https://www.endeavour.com.au/media-news/blog/three-steps-to-ace-your-planning-meeting

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