Does your impairment substantially reduce your functional capacity?

Your permanent impairment needs to substantially reduce your functional capacity or ability to undertake activities in one of the following areas:

  • Communicating – how you speak, write, or use sign language and gestures, to express yourself compared to other people your age. We also look at how well you understand people, and how others understand you.
  • Socialising – how you make and keep friends, or interact with the community, or how a young child plays with other children. We also look at your behaviour, and how you cope with feelings and emotions in social situations.
  • Learning – how you learn, understand and remember new things, and practise and use new skills.
  • Mobility, or moving around – how easily you move around your home and community, and how you get in and out of bed or a chair. We consider how you get out and about and use your arms or legs.
  • Self-care – personal care, hygiene, grooming, eating and drinking, and health. We consider how you get dressed, shower or bathe, eat or go to the toilet.
  • Self-management (if older than 6) – how you organise your life. We consider how you plan, make decisions, and look after yourself. This might include day-to-day tasks at home, how you solve problems, or manage your money. We consider your mental or cognitive ability to manage your life, not your physical ability to do these tasks.

Your impairment substantially reduces your functional capacity if you usually need disability-specific supports to participate in or complete the above tasks. 

These disability-specific supports include:

  • a high level of support from other people, such as physical assistance, guidance, supervision or prompting. 
  • assistive technology, equipment or home modifications that are prescribed by your doctor, allied health professional or other medical professional. 

To help us decide if you’re eligible, we need to know your capacity and where you need more help. We get this information from your NDIS application.

If you have more than one permanent impairment we will consider them together, to see if they substantially reduce your functional capacity.

We consider how you’re involved in different areas of life like home, school, work and the community, and how you carry out tasks and actions. We also consider any other factors that may impact your day-to-day life.

Your needs might go up and down each day or each month. Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can be a good example of this. We consider your ability over time, taking into account your ups and downs.

How does a child’s impairment affect their daily life?

To help us decide if a child’s ability is substantially reduced, we compare their abilities with other children of the same age.

If a child’s ability is much less than most other children the same age, they may meet the disability requirements. For example, if they:

  • need assistive technology, equipment or home modifications to participate in daily activities – except for common items like glasses.
  • usually need more assistance to join activities, or they can’t join in.

Sometimes when a child's impairment doesn’t substantially reduce their ability right now, but might in the future, we will look at the early intervention requirements. Similarly, if a child’s impairment currently substantially reduces their ability, but may not after receiving supports, we will look at the early intervention requirements. Early intervention can be for children of any age; however, there are different requirements for children younger than 6 with developmental delay to meet the early intervention requirements.

Learn more about the early intervention requirements.

What if you have a hearing impairment?

Some hearing impairments may lead to a substantially reduced functional capacity.

We’ll generally decide you have a substantially reduced functional capacity if your hearing loss is at least 65 decibels in your better ear.

This is based on a pure tone average of 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz and 4000Hz.

We may also decide you have a substantially reduced functional capacity if your hearing loss is less than 65 decibels in your better ear. We may decide this if either:

  • you also have another permanent impairment, such as a vision or cognitive impairment.
  • you give us evidence your speech detection and speech discrimination outcomes are significantly poorer than expected.
This page current as of
27 October 2023
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