The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offers eligible people access to funding to help cover the costs of their disability. The NDIS does this by approving a ‘plan’ for each person, which will provide them with access to funding for one, two or three years. The NDIS determines how much funding you will get based on reports from your doctors – but they don’t always get it right.
If a person does not agree with an NDIS decision, they can apply for an internal review. NDIS staff who were not involved in the original decision will look over the documentation and decide if the original decision needs to be changed. Sometimes, they might decide that the original decision was correct, and will not provide extra funding.
If this occurs, people can go to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to appeal the NDIS decision. The AAT can be used by NDIS participants who want extra funding or people who have been rejected by the NDIS. The AAT is independent of the Australian Government and reviews decisions made by government agencies (like the NDIS). During an AAT review, a person can represent themselves, or can be represented by a support person.
Alternatively, they can apply through the NDIS Appeals Program Support for a skilled advocate or legal services. Decisions made by the AAT are considered final unless a person appeals them in a higher court in Australia.
However, on the 16th of December 2022, the Australian Government announced that the AAT will be abolished and replaced with a new federal administrative review body. The body is currently unnamed and it is unclear when it will come into effect, but here’s what you need to know:
- The AAT is still operating, and cases will still be reviewed by the AAT until the new body takes over.
- Decisions made by the AAT are still final. If the AAT makes a determination on a case, it cannot be appealed and reviewed again by the new body.
- New appeals can still be submitted. They may be reviewed by the AAT or by the new body.
It is also important to note that the AAT is currently increasing its staff to handle the backlog of cases and, hopefully, means that cases will be heard earlier.
Additionally, the NDIS is trialing the Independent Expert Review (IER) program to reduce the number of cases that have to go to the AAT or its replacement body. Anyone who has appealed to the AAT may be contacted by the IER. The IER is free and independent. Its staff do not work for the NDIS but have the relevant experience to make recommendations. They will meet with an individual to discuss their appeal, and then provide a non-binding
recommendation. This means that the recommendation does not have to be followed by you or the NDIS.
Because the IER recommendation is non-binding, both the individual and the NDIS must agree with it for it to take effect. The benefit of this process is that a resolution can be reached without having to go to the AAT. This is faster and reduces the AAT workload. If either party disagrees with the recommendation, the AAT will review the case and the IER’s
recommendations cannot be used as evidence.
Participating in an IER is voluntary and will not delay an AAT hearing. An individual can stop the IER at any time and any documentation held by the IER will be destroyed.
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