If an assistance animal meets the NDIS funding criteria, we’ll also fund the ongoing maintenance costs that are included in the criteria. This is to keep the animal healthy and active during its working life. Its working life is the length of time the assistance animal will support you and help you do your tasks. We would expect this to be a minimum of 8 years. We’ll assess these costs at your plan reviews.

Maintenance costs may include costs for:

  • food
  • grooming
  • flea and worm treatments
  • medication
  • vaccinations
  • vet services
  • yearly reviews with the accredited assistance animal provider.

The average funding for maintenance costs is around of $2,725.00 per year. We’ll fund this in your Core – Consumables budget. You’ll see this written in your plan as Assistance Dog (Including Dog Guide) ongoing costs.

We encourage you to self-manage or plan manage your funding for the maintenance costs of the assistance animal. This is because most providers of these supports won’t be registered with us. For example, you might get medication from your local vet or grooming at a dog groomer near you.

Learn more about plan management .

We’ll only include support for an assistance animal that’s fully trained and qualified. We don’t fund these costs while the animal is being trained. It’s the provider’s responsibility to cover these costs. Or they could include them in the cost of buying or leasing the assistance animal. We also don’t fund maintenance costs for companion animals or pets. 

What happens when an assistance animal retires and needs replacing?

Assistance animals need to retire when they can’t work at full capacity anymore. This means they need to stop working due to their age or illness.

We generally won’t consider funding another assistance animal until the animal you have has reached the end of its working life. We’ll only fund a new assistance animal if you still need it.

Even if you’ve had an assistance animal before, we still need to make sure a replacement is reasonable and necessary. You’ll need to give us information to help us decide if a replacement animal meets the NDIS funding criteria. We’ll look at this information when we do your plan review.

We need to know:

  • if your situation has changed and you don’t need the assistance animal as much now 
  • if you can still be independent with the help of the assistance animal
  • why the assistance animal has to stop work, or why it isn’t able to work at full capacity any more. The provider of the assistance animal may be responsible for replacement costs under guarantee or additional warranty if it retires early.

It may take 12 months to replace an assistance animal. This is because the provider needs to match and train an assistance animal to your needs.

If your assistance animal is within a year or so of retirement, you should start talking to your provider. You’ll need to start getting the information and evidence we need to decide whether another assistance animal meets the NDIS funding criteria.

If you do need a replacement assistance animal and there’s going to be a delay, we need to know. You may need temporary supports while you wait for your replacement assistance animal. This might include capacity building or short term assistive technology supports. We expect that once you have a replacement assistance animal you won’t need the extra supports anymore.

You can give us this information at any time, or at your next planning conversation. Learn more about how you can contact us .

Is an assistance animal covered by a guarantee?

We fund a fully qualified assistance animal that will actively perform tasks that help you to manage your disability. It’s the responsibility of your provider to provide a fully trained and qualified animal, even if it takes many attempts to fully train it so it’s suitable for your support needs.

If your assistance animal doesn’t perform as expected, you should speak to your provider. It’s your provider’s responsibility to ensure you get the support you paid for. This might include matching and training a new assistance animal.

It’s important you have a clear service agreement with your provider that includes the supply of a fully trained and qualified assistance animal. It’s important the service agreement clearly states what the assistance animal is for, and your expectations. For example, if you need the assistance animal to do a certain task, this should be included in the service agreement.

The service agreement should clearly state if any guarantee and/or warranties are included in addition to those covered under Australian Consumer Law. You should be familiar with the Consumer guarantees on products and services covered under Australian Consumer Law.

Learn more about making service agreements .

If you have any issues with your assistance animal as described above, you should contact your provider. Such issues are between you and your provider. They aren’t our responsibility.

The Australian Consumer Law also covers assistance animals. The Australian Consumer Law should cover you if you have any issues with your assistance animal, such as if the animal:

  • doesn’t perform as expected
  • retires after a short amount of time or before the expected working life of 8 years.

Learn more about Australian Consumer Law and your rights .

This page current as of
13 December 2021
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