Access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for people over age 65 is under the spotlight with the announcement of a class action against the Federal government for age discrimination.
The class action, being brought by Mitry Lawyers, is claiming that excluding people with a disability over age 65 from the NDIS is age discrimination which has resulted in hardship for thousands who have access to less funding through Aged Care and need to pay fees and being subject to means testing requirements that don’t apply under the NDIS.
Currently the NDIS is available to people who live in an area where the NDIS is available, who meet the residency requirements, have an assessed disability (or early intervention need) and are under the age of 65 when they apply. People who become disabled, or become eligible to claim NDIS when they are over the age of 65 are offered aged care, which may be in the form of a home care package or residential aged care.
The anomalies of the funding and means testing arrangements between aged care and the NDIS are stark. Under the NDIS there are no fees and no means testing, with funding based on an individual budget for their care needs. In aged care people can be charged a basic daily fee of up to $4,274p.a in home care and $20,758p.a in residential aged care, in addition to the basic daily fee there are means tested fees of up to $12,230p.a in home care and $30,574 in residential care, with a lifetime limit of $73,378 across both home and residential care.
One claimant, Peter Freckleton, was 6 when he contracted polio and has been paralysed in both legs since. When the NDIS rolled out in Peter’s area he was already 65, so he wasn’t eligible. Peter receives a level 3 Home Care Package which provides him with around $35,000 a year of funding. He has been able to get a wheelchair but as the package funding is paid monthly he waited 8 months to accumulate sufficient funds. He needs home modifications to access his backyard and bathroom but there isn’t enough funds in his package. He believes without the age limit he would be eligible to claim around $100,000, pointing to a friend with the same condition who receives NDIS. Peter’s liability to pay towards the cost of his care includes a basic daily fee of $4,161p.a and an income tested fee at 50c per dollar of income above $23,413 per year (up to a maximum of $12,230 per year). Contrast to his friend under the NDIS who pays no fees and is not subject to a means test.
Peter is one of almost 500 potential class members from across Australia who have registered with Mitry Lawyers since the claim was announced a month ago. The amount of the claim is yet to be estimated but Rick Mitry has said “it will be in the billions”. Watch this space.