Options for Car modifications
Having a disability may affect your ability to travel in a car, but there are a range of car modification options that can be installed to help you either drive or travel safely.
Firstly, you need to speak to an Occupational Therapist (OT). They can provide an assessment of your individual circumstances, and will be able to tell you which specific vehicle modifications might be of help to you.
Did you know?
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) offers a Goods or Services Tax (GST) exemption on newly purchased and leased vehicles for people with disability or veterans. This is providing that evidence can be shown that your vehicle is necessary for employment, business or long-term study to gain employment. You can phone the ATO on 13 28 65 or check their website at www.ato.gov.au for more information.
The NDIS and Vehicle Modifications
If you live in an area where the NDIS has already rolled out, there is funding available, as long as the vehicle modifications recommended by your OT are classed as reasonable and necessary within your plan. One of the criteria that is used to determine eligibility for vehicle modification under the NDIS is that the modification has to represent “value for money.” Is the cost of making modifications to the car reasonable, when considering the benefit to the person as well as the costs of alternative forms of support?
There are 3 Support Categories containing 15 Support Sub-Categories in your NDIS plan to cover everything you might need for the next 12 months.
Vehicle modifications are included in “Assistive Technology”. This category covers vehicle access, travelling safely as a passenger with a disability, and/or being a driver with a disability. It may also be possible to cover costs of a rental adapted vehicle for holidays or for use while your personal vehicle is being modified or serviced.
The NDIA has a price guide for Assistive Technology, however this pricing may not accurately reflect the true cost of the modifications being made. The NDIA have done a lot of research in this area, however the descriptions are quite broad and allow for a variety of possibilities to suit your needs. The final price and configuration of any modification will be dependent on a combination of the following three things: your needs and preferences; the vehicle chosen; and the modifier.
Speak to your Planner or LAC to discuss your modification options, or contact IDEAS if you are unclear about anything.
There are many types of vehicle modifications available, including minor modifications such as:
• Fitting a properly designed steering wheel spinner knob obtained from a recognised supplier of this equipment.
• Fitting additional grab handles to aid entry to and exit from the vehicle.
• Fitting roof racks to carry wheelchair lifting and storage equipment.
• Extending control levers.
Through to more major modifications:
• ‘Stretched’ vehicles with roof alterations;
• Seat modifications such as special seats which pivot and rotate to assist access into and out of the vehicle;
• Wheelchair racks mounted at the rear of the vehicle;
• Fitting hand controls;
• Modifying foot pedals and pedal brackets;
• Special seat belt installations; and
• Restraints for wheelchairs carrying passengers in vehicles;
Depending on which state you live in, you may be required to prove to your local road authority that the vehicle’s original safety standards have been maintained.
What the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) will not fund:
• the purchase of a motor vehicle;
• regular insurance, registration or running costs;
• non-standard items, for example auto docking where the person or their attendant is able to manually dock; or
• major modifications (over $10,000) to a vehicle where less than 8 years has lapsed since the most recent funding of vehicle modifications, unless the participant’s circumstances and needs have significantly changed.