The following is a brief outline of financial assistance currently available through Centrelink to eligible people (most Centrelink pensions and allowances are subject to means testing). For information on Disability, Sickness, Carer and Mobility allowances contact Centrelink tel: 13 2717 or http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/centrelink.
Disability Support Pension – Is available for people over the age of 16 who have not reached Aged Pension age. The person must be assessed as being unfit to work for a period of at least 2 years.
Sickness Allowance / New start / Youth Allowance – These allowances are available for people over 16 years who have not reached Aged Pension age but are temporarily unable to work or look for work. Discuss with your Social Worker/Centrelink to see which is most appropriate for you to apply for.
Carer Payment – Can be applied for once a discharge date from State Rehabilitation Service is known and once the level of care is known. This allowance is for those individuals providing a significant amount of personal care for the person with a spinal cord injury (SCI) and is means tested. Generally people with paraplegia (excluding the elderly) are likely to be independent once discharged from hospital, and therefore may not be eligible.
Carer Allowance – Can be applied for once discharge date and needs of the person requiring care are known. This allowance is a supplementary payment if you provide care to an individual with SCI and is not means tested. It can be paid on top of any other support payments or income.
Mobility Allowance – Is paid to people with disabilities who are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance. The person must be spending at least 8 hours per week on a continuing basis in paid or voluntary work, vocational training or study. There are other benefits associated with this allowance such as access to a health care concession card.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
People who have served or are currently serving in the Australian Defence Force, and their dependants (partners, widows/widowers, children) may be eligible for disability pensions and allowances. Tel: 13 3254, 1 800 555 254 or www.dva.gov.au for further information.
If injured whilst working, or in some cases travelling to and from work, you may be eligible for compensation from Work Cover. It is important to liaise closely with your employer and get Work Cover involved early (your employer should have notified them of your accident but it pays to check that this has been done). You will need to provide your employer with a 1st Medical Certificate which can be obtained from your first treating doctor. Your hospital social worker can assist with your application. For advice on choosing a lawyer to assist with your compensation claim go to our link Seeking Legal Advice.
Insurance Commission of WA (ICWA) for Motor Vehicle Accidents
ICWA is the organisation responsible for insuring drivers through vehicle registration and third party insurance. All people who have been involved in a road accident should ensure that they or their representative have contacted ICWA either by phone or online to register the accident and your intention to make a claim. Generally drivers involved in single vehicle accidents are unlikely to be eligible for compensation unless they can prove negligence of some sort e.g. obscured road sign, dangerous or poorly maintained road surface. Passengers injured in single vehicle accidents are usually covered for compensation (assuming the car is registered). For multiple vehicle accidents police and ICWA will investigate to determine who was at fault. It is still recommended that an ‘Intent to claim’ form is lodged.
Pedestrians and pushbike riders involved in an accident with a motor vehicle can also make a claim.
It is usual for the Police Crash Investigation Unit and an investigator from ICWA to visitthe State Rehabilitation Service at FSH to interview you. We believe it is better for this to happen once you not under the influence of any medications which could affect your memory and when you are able to sit up and talk face to face with the person interviewing you. If you have engaged the services of a lawyer you may wish to have them present for the interview. Some lawyers prefer to deal with ICWA on your behalf and will advise against talking directly to the police or ICWA investigator. For advice on how to choose a lawyer go to our link Seeking Legal Advice. Your hospital social worker can provide you with written information regarding ICWA.
Should you require assistance for personal care there are several options depending on your age and circumstances. On discharge from hospital your social worker will be able to advise you on the most appropriate option for you. If you have been living in the community for some time and find that your care assistance requirements are increasing your general practitioner (GP) will be able to advise you on the best care option for your circumstances.
Home and Community Care (HACC) – HACC provides support services (eg cleaning, shopping, shower assistance) to assist people to continue living independently at home. Currently a maximum of 6 hours per week so is best suited to individuals requiring minimal care. For more information go to www.health.wa.gov.au/hacc/consumers/introduction.cfm. You do not need a referral for HACC funding.
Disability Services Commission Funding (DSC) – There are 3 funding rounds per year. Applicants are those under retirement age (65 yrs) who require significant levels of care that is not available from other sources. On discharge from the State Rehabilitation Service at FSH your social worker can assist in your application but you must have attained your maximum rehabilitation potential before an application can be made. It frequently takes several attempts at applying for this funding before a person is successful. People who need DSC funding in order to live at home may need to consider alternative options such as staying in the Quadriplegic Centre or paying for private care until they are successful in their funding application.
If you are under 65 years old and are finding that you now require care assistance at home due to deterioration in your condition, you will need to contact your general practitioner (GP) for referral for DSC funding. You should be aware that DSC funding is provided to the most critical and at risk cases as a priority. You may have to make repeated applications and wait years for funding.
Aged Care Packages – For individuals of retirement age (65 yrs +). There are two options available, Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH -high level care package of approximately 10 -15 hours per week) and Community Aged Care Package (CACP – low level care of approximately 6 – 10 hours per week). Domestic assistance (eg laundry, cleaning and shopping) can be included in the package. In order to assess the level of care required the individual needs to have an assessment completed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). If you are applying for care on discharge from Shenton Park your social worker will arrange the ACAT assessment once you have attained your maximum level of functioning. If you are living independently within the community and are finding that your care requirements are increasing due to ageing you will need to contact your general practitioner (GP) to get a referral for an assessment.
Admission to a Permanent Care Facility
Community Group Home (under 65 yrs old) – If you are unable to go home after discharge from hospital due to lack of support a person may consider entering a group home. In order to do so the applicant needs to apply to Disabilty Services Commission (DSC) for Accommodation Support funding. As with most applications to DSC there is often a considerable wait before funding is approved so alternatives need to be explored with your hospital social worker. If you have been living at home independently and can no longer look after yourself due to a deterioration in your condition you should discuss your options with your GP.
Nursing Home/Hostel (over 65 yrs old) – If a person is unable to manage to go home from hospital due to their level of care requirements following a SCI they may need to consider applying for admission to a Nursing Home or Hostel. Frequently there are waiting lists for admission to these facilities and it may be necessary to be transferred to a transitional care facility to wait until your preferred nursing home/hostel has a place for you. Your hospital social worker can advise and assist with the process of getting approved for entry to a facility through the Department of Geriatric Medicine’s Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). If you are living in the community and are no longer able to manage you should contact your GP for a referral for an ACAT assessment.
Quadriplegic Centre – Situated on the Shenton Park campus the Quadriplegic Centre offers temporary and respite accommodation for people with spinal cord injury (SCI), primarily high level SCI. The centre has a gym, some O/T and physio services, a recreation centre and trained nursing/care staff. The Quadriplegic Centre is frequently used by people who are waiting for funding to be approved from DSC, people waiting for housing modifications to be completed or for respite in order to give carers a break. Your hospital social worker can arrange for you to visit the Quadriplegic Centre and can assist in your application. There is a daily fee but if on a pension you will receive rental assistance towards the cost of your stay.
Grants and Allowances
ACROD Parking – Allows a person to park in a designated ‘Disabled’ parking bay. This can be issued for people requiring disabled parking on a short or long term basis, there is a small annual fee. Go to www.app.org.au for more information, your doctor will need to authorise your application.
Acute Spinal Cord Injury Grant – Pamphlets are available on ward at the State Rehabilitation Service explaining the eligibility requirements for applying for this grant from the Spine and Limb Foundation (http://www.slfwa.org.au/grants-funding). This grant can be for a variety of uses e.g. assisting in purchasing equipment not already supplied through the hospital scheme or to assist with financial demands incurred as a result of hospitalisation. Grants of up to $2000 are available on discharge from hospital, your social worker can assist with the application.
Alternatives to Employment Program – This program is run by the Disability Services Commission and is available for people with high support needs who require an alternative to paid employment. Eligible people can access a range of opportunities to develop skills and participate within their community. There is a program for adults and a Post School Options program if you have left school within the last two years. Visit http://www.disability.wa.gov.au/services-support-and-eligiblity/services-supports-and-eligibility-new/services/services-provided-by-the-commission/alternatives-to-employment/ for more information.
Community Aids and Equipment Program – The Community Aids and Equipment Program (CAEP) assists people with disability to stay in their own homes by providing equipment such as a wheelchair, or funding home modifications such as installing a ramp to assist mobility into the home. If you receive equipment from CAEP you may use it for as long as you need but all equipment belongs to CAEP and must be returned when no longer needed. To be eligible for CAEP you must have a permanent disability, live at home in the community most of the time, have a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, or be a carer of a child with a permanent disability in receipt of a Carer Payment, or be able to demonstrate financial hardship. Your GP or specialist can determine if you are eligible and will then refer you to a local CAEP service provider. This program is run by State Government (http://www.disability.wa.gov.au/).
Companion Card – Is available for people who are permanently unable to attend community venues and activities without significant attendant support. With this card your companion will be allowed to enter participating venues at no cost. Your companion is also able to use this card to access public transport when travelling with you. For more information go to www.wa.companioncard.org.au.
Concessions WA – Concessions WA (http://www.concessions.wa.gov.au) is an easy-to-use online resource where you can search by category, concession card type or people group to find details on rebates, concessions and subsidy schemes provided by the Government of Western Australia.
Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) – This is an annual payment for people who have a permanent and severe loss of bladder and/or bowel function due to a neurological condition. New funding for 2014/15 financial year is $545.80 (worked out pro rata if you join after July 1). Applications need to be made through Medicare tel:13 20 11, application forms can be downloaded from www.bladderbowel.gov.au. This funding can be either paid into your bank account or can be paid to a nominated organisation that you purchase products from. Independence Australia (www.independenceaustralia.com) offer great quarterly specials and the opportunity to maximise buying power, buying at the contract prices if you are linked to CMASS or IPS.
Continence Management and Support Scheme (CMASS) – The State Government funds the Western Australian Continence Management and Support Scheme (CMASS). The Silver Chain Nursing Association delivers the service at clinics throughout WA. Specialist nurses can assess your needs and provide confidential advice on how to best manage and improve your bladder or bowel condition. If continence products are required, Silver Chain can assist with accessing a subsidy of up to $490 per year through Independence Australia. To access the product subsidy, individuals must be assessed as eligible by the Continence Management and Advice Service (CMAS). To make an appointment with a specialist continence nurse, contact Silver Chain on 1300 787 055. People who are eligible for CMASS must be 16 years of age or older, have a defined chronic or intractable continence condition (lasting for six months or more) and hold a Pensioner Concession Card or a Health Care Card.
For more information on the Continence Management and Support Scheme, contact Silver Chain (tel: 1300 787 055 website: www.silverchain.org.au). Adults may access the CMASS and the Commonwealth Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) at the same time. If you are eligible for CMASS funding but run out of funds before the end of the financial year, you can purchase continence products at greatly reduced cost from Independence Australia if you open a private account. For more information contact Independence Australia tel: 1 300 788 855, www.independenceaustralia.com.
Disability Equipment Grant – The Disability Equipment Grant (DEG) Program aims to assist eligible Western Australians with permanent disabilities to obtain specific items of equipment and/or subsidies unavailable through other funding. This program is income assessed and is managed by the Independent Living Centre (http://ilc.com.au/funding/disability-equipment-grants/). Funds are available for vehicle modifications, specialised assistive technology for people with sensory, communication or physical impairments, air conditioners and other essential independence equipment.
Driver Assessment and Training Grants – Funding is available for eligible people with disabilities who require an Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment for vehicle modifications or fitness to drive. Subsidies are also available for driver training for people who require lessons in a modified vehicle and with a driving instructor experienced in rehabilitation. Contact the Independent Living Centre (ILC) tel: (08) 9381 0600, www.ilc.com.au.
Equipment for Living Grant – People who are eligible for the Community Aids and Equipment Program (CAEP) can apply for grants to help purchase vital equipment not currently available through CAEP or other support programs. This grant is managed by the Independent Living Centre (http://ilc.com.au/funding/equipment-for-living/).
Incontinence Pad Scheme (IPS) – Children
This scheme is for children 3-16 with disability who are incontinent. It is funded by the Disability Services Commission and administered by Independence Australia. A product subsidy of up to $490 per year is available to assist families with meeting the cost of continence products for their children.
There are 2 forms to be completed, one medical and one for the family to fill in – these are available from Independence Australia 1300 788 855 or via this link – http://www.independenceaustralia.com/health-solutions/funding-schemes/ips/.
IPS clients may also be eligible for CAPS (this link has information for CMAS and IPS http://www.disability.wa.gov.au/services-support-and-eligiblity/services-supports-and-eligibility-new/services/services-provided-by-the-commission/continence-services-/
Local Area Coordinators – The Disability Services Commission provides Local Area Coordinators (LACs) who are based throughout the State and are available to help people advocate, plan, organise and access the support and services they need.LACs can help you with access to recreation and leisure facilities, transport and work/training. In addition, LACs help to make local communities more inclusive and welcoming through education, advocacy and partnerships with local community members, businesses, government and non-government organisations. LAC support is available to people with intellectual, physical, sensory, neurological and/or cognitive disabilities who are under the age of 65 at the time they apply (http://www.disability.wa.gov.au/individuals-families-and-carers/for-individuals-families-and-carers/local-area-coordination/).
Lotterywest Grant – Applications for grants for specific equipment can be made through the Lotteries Commission. Equipment includes air conditioners, vehicle modifications, wheelchair carriers and communication aids. Apply for these grants you need to apply through a not for profit organisation such as Independent Living Centre (www.ilc.com.au) or the Spine and Limb Foundation (http://www.slfwa.org.au/grants-funding).
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – From 1 July 2014 Western Australia will participate in a two-year trial of the NDIS. The NDIS trial in WA will use two models in separate locations. The State Government’s WA NDIS My Way model will be trialled in the Lower South West, starting 1 July 2014 and in Cockburn-Kwinana, starting 1 July 2015. If you live in these regions you can check if you are eligible by completing an online check list (http://www.dsc.wa.gov.au/Am_I_Eligible/). The Commonwealth’s NDIS model will be run by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on behalf of the Government and trialled in the Perth Hills from 1 July 2014. To find out if you are eligible visit http://www.ndis.gov.au/my-access-checker.
To find out more about the NDIS full-scheme roll-out, visit the Disability Services Commission page here.
New car or car parts GST – free – Purchase of a car (or car parts) is GST free where it is for use by an eligible person with a disability for their personal transportation to or from gainful employment. The person must have lost the use of one or more limbs and be unable to use public transport (bus or train) for the next 2 years. Contact the Australian Tax Office www.ato.gov.au for an application form. Your doctor will need to complete the medical assessment form which is part of the application.
Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) – Provides assistance to country residents who have to travel more than 100km to access specialist medical treatment. Application for PATS must be made before you travel and should be approved by your GP or consultant. Contact should be made to your local PATS office usually situated in your nearest hospital. For more information go to http://www.wacountry.health.wa.gov.au/index.php?id=pats
Qantas Carer Concession – A person is eligible to apply for this concession if they need to have ‘one on one’ support once seated on the plane. A person would not be eligible if they only required help in boarding and disembarking the plane. Qantas carer concession cardholders receive discount fares with Qantas travel within Australia and New Zealand. Information at www.qantas.com.au, applications can be made through NICAN tel: (02) 6241 1220 www.nican.com.au/about/qantas-carer-concession
Sporting Equipment – Rebound WA (formerly known as Wheelchair Sports WA) provides funding subsidies for people with a disability to purchase sporting equipment and to attend interstate and international competitions. To be eligible you must be a current financial member (currently $25/year) and an active member of the association. For more information tel: (08) 6143 5800, https://reboundwa.com/ .
Synergy Subsidies (electricity supply) – Anyone living at a residential premise can claim a rebate if they hold a Centrelink, DVA or WA Seniors Card. The card holder does not need to be the account holder provided that the premise is their primary residence. Rebates are also available if you or someone living at your premises relies on life support equipment (eg heart pumps, dialysis machine) that runs on electricity. You must complete and return an application form signed by your doctor. For more information.tel: 13 13 53, www.synergy.net.au/at_home/rebates.xhtml
Taxi Users Subsidy Scheme (TUSS) – Is available for people who are permanently unable to get onto a bus with steps. The person will get 50% – 75% off the cost of a taxi fare up to a maximum of $25. There is no cost for this subsidy and it is not means tested. Information and application form at http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/taxis/passenger-subsidies.asp.
Telephone Allowance – For help with maintaining a telephone and home internet service (conditions apply) up to $38 per quarter. Apply http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/dhs/centrelink
Thermoregulatory Dysfunction Energy Subsidy Scheme – This is a Western Australian Government subsidy to help offset the energy costs associated with temperature control at their home for financially disadvantaged persons with thermoregulatory dysfunction. Financial assistance towards your electricity bill is available for individuals who hold a means tested concession card. Particular medical criteria must be met to be eligible. For more information tel: (08) 9262 1373 or read more about the scheme here.
Vehicle Licence Fee Exemption – Wheelchair hoist or ramp vehicles are currently eligible for either a licence fee exemption or exemption from vehicle licence duty on purchase of the vehicle. If you hold a Disability Support Pension Card you may also be eligible for either a licence fee exemption or exemption from vehicle licence duty on purchase of a vehicle. For more information go to http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing/concessions.asp.