Previously installed vehicle modifications

Case

Roger feels that access to a vehicle will increase his independence. Rather than buy a vehicle that he has to modify, Roger decides to buy one already modified to support his disability. He asks us for funds to cover the cost of modifications already in the vehicle.

Would we typically fund this?

Yes the NDIS generally approves funding to cover the depreciated cost of modifications already installed in a vehicle you may be looking to buy. The vehicle needs to be less than 5 years old and have less than 80,000kms on the odometer.

You will need to give us evidence the modifications:

  • relate to your disability and meet your care needs in supporting your disability
  • comply with Australian Standards.

If the modifications mean you can drive the vehicle, you would also need to give us evidence from an appropriately qualified therapist that you have the ongoing capacity to drive.

We will not fund the purchase of the motor vehicle itself as this is not a disability-related support but rather a day-to-day cost. For more information, refer to Operational Guideline – Including Specific Types of Supports in Plans – Vehicle Modifications . 

Why would we fund this?

If the vehicle has already been modified, we may fund these modifications at a rate equal to their depreciated value. Depreciation takes into account reduced value over time.

To work out whether a support is reasonable and necessary, we look at the information you have given us against the NDIS Funding Criteria. For vehicle modifications however, especially for existing modifications to a vehicle, there are a range of extra things we need to consider:

  • Whether a driver-trained occupational therapist has assessed the modifications are suitable for your disability support needs. They need to assess each modified feature and give us their opinion.
  • If you intend to drive the modified vehicle, we need evidence from a suitably qualified therapist that shows you will be independent in all tasks you will be driving to in the community including moving your wheelchair or mobility aid in and out of the vehicle, personal care, mobility and managing other driving-related activities.

We also need evidence of the long-term suitability of the vehicle modification in relation to:

  • your ongoing attendant care support needs and circumstances
  • any expected changes to your functional capacity
  • the age and mileage of the second-hand vehicle
  • how often the modifications will need maintenance or repairs.

If the modifications are already installed, we need to see:

In most cases, our funding of vehicle modifications will also include the cost of renting a vehicle to trial the equipment, if needed.

It is important to note that it is not our responsibility to make sure:

  • the vehicle and modifications comply with relevant legal and administrative requirements in Australia and in your state or territory
  • the modifications are installed to standard
  • the modified vehicle is considered roadworthy in your state or territory.

You should check with your supplier the vehicle and modifications comply with Australian requirements, particularly for imported vehicles.  It is your responsibility to ensure that the vehicle and modifications comply with Australian laws, regulations and standards.

What else do we think about?

The modifications must be value for money compared with other supports that would get the same outcome. Your planner will look at all your transport needs to work out the reasonable and necessary cost based on other options available.

We won’t fund extra items that don’t relate to your disability. You may, however, choose to pay yourself for special features not related to your disability needs.

We will generally not fund:

  • buying a motor vehicle
  • regular insurance, registration or running costs.

These are day-to-day costs related to your transport needs, rather than your disability support needs.

Case example

Susan has Spina Bifida and needs a wheelchair to get around. She has been taking driving lessons in a modified vehicle using hand controls to operate the accelerator and brakes. Susan recently passed her driving test.

Susan wants to buy a car large enough to fit her wheelchair. Her driving instructor suggests that she look at second-hand vehicles that have already been modified with hand controls and are able to fit a wheelchair. It is likely this is more affordable than a new vehicle, and we may provide funding toward cost of the fitted modifications.

Susan contacted her planner who told her that for us to consider funding her vehicle modifications it was best that she look at a vehicle less than 5 years old with a mileage under 80,000kms. Her planner advised that we may fund the depreciated value of modifications fitted to the vehicle, but only if they related to, and were suitable for, her disability. They also needed to be value for money when compared with other vehicle modifications or comparable supports.

The planner recommended that if Susan wanted to buy a vehicle that was already modified to support her disability, she would need to give us a report from a driver-trained occupational therapist. The report must recommend the types of vehicles that would best suit Susan, and include an itemised listing of the minimum modifications she needs to operate a vehicle and be independent in such things as putting her wheelchair in an out of the vehicle and other driving-related tasks.

Susan also needs to prove to us that the modifications fitted in the second-hand vehicle meet Australian Standards and are in good working condition.

She also has to understand that it’s not our responsibility to make sure:

  • the modifications are installed to standard
  • the modified vehicle is considered roadworthy in her state or territory. 

The planner also told Susan that once she found a vehicle, she might need to give us evidence of a successful trial of the vehicle to support her funding request.

Susan sees a second-hand car within her price range. The vehicle, imported from Japan, had been factory modified to support a wheelchair and uses hand controls to operate the accelerator and brakes.

Susan works with her driver-trained occupational therapist to make sure the modifications include everything modifications she needs to operate the car and do things such as securing her wheelchair.

The dealer lets Susan get the vehicle inspected by a vehicle modifications dealer who finds that the wheelchair lock does not comply with Australian Standards. It will need replacing. The dealer gives Susan an assessment of the equipment and a quote on the cost of replacing the lock. He also gives Susan an itemised listing of the costs of the factory modifications and offers to discount the price of the car by the cost to replace the non-standard wheelchair lock.

Susan submits her evidence to her planner. She includes:

  • the modifications listing from her driver-trained occupational therapist and the therapist’s confirmation that these are suitable for her use
  • the occupational therapist’s report detailing the results of her vehicle trial including how she is able to manage all driver-related tasks
  • the risk assessment from the vehicle modifications dealer
  • a quote for fitting an Australian Standards compliant wheelchair lock
  • the factory cost of the modifications.

When working out whether funding for Susan’s vehicle modifications is reasonable and necessary, the planner considers:

  • the benefits of the modification in achieving Susan’s desired outcome based on the evidence provided from the trial 
  • the depreciated cost of the modifications and whether other options are better value for money
  • the effectiveness of the modifications in regard to Susan’s current and future disability support needs.


In Susan’s case, the planner decide that other options are unlikely to meet her support needs or are poor value for money. The planner assesses the funding request as reasonable and necessary and we approve funding for:

  • the depreciated value of the factory-fitted modifications in the vehicle
  • the installation of a new Australian Standards compliant wheelchair lock.

For more information, refer to;

This page current as of
20 April 2021
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