Legal and financial support
There are a range of services that provide legal and financial support.
Legal Aid provides free information and legal services for eligible people. Over the phone information and referral services are available to everyone.
If decision-making becomes difficult because of disability, there are laws to determine who makes the decisions instead.
Enduring powers of attorney are legal documents that can be made ahead of time to appoint a decision-maker. They have to be made by someone who has legal capacity, meaning they understand what it means. But they 'endure' even if and when the person loses capacity to make their own decisions.
If there is no enduring power of attorney, your state or territory can appoint a guardian or administrator. Guardians make lifestyle or personal decisions, and administrators make financial decisions. This is only done where there is a need to do so and when it is in the best interests of the person with the disability.
Centrelink can help if you have an illness, injury, disability or carer responsibilities that mean you cannot work, or can only do a limited amount of work. Concession and health care cards make it less expensive when you use certain health care services, or buy prescription medicines. Concession cards also entitle you to discounts on rates and utilities, and on vehicle registration and public transport. Applications are managed by Centrelink, and eligibility will depend on your circumstances.
After a stroke, you may be eligible for an early release of superannuation. You can apply for early release on the grounds of severe financial hardship, or to meet the costs of medical treatment, transport expenses or home and vehicle modification expenses. You may also have disability insurance as part of your superannuation. It helps to get advice on these issues from a financial counsellor or advisor.
Financial counsellors provide free information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty. Financial advisers provide advice and services on financial matters, and will charge a fee.
Health care costs
The Medicare Safety Net provides a higher Medicare benefit for all eligible services for the rest of the calendar year once you reach the relevant threshold. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net works in a similar way, reducing the cost of prescription medicines once the threshold has been reached. Make sure to ask your pharmacist about generic medicines, which will help keep costs down.
Your doctor may suggest a Chronic Disease Management Plan, which entitles you to a number of subsidised sessions with health professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists.
Each state has an Aids and Equipment Program that provides people with a permanent or long-term disability with subsidised aids, equipment, home, and vehicle modifications. The Continence Aids Payment Scheme helps eligible people with permanent and severe incontinence with the costs of incontinence products.
People with a severe and permanent disability can also apply to the taxi authority for assistance with the cost of taxi travel.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The NDIS helps Australians under the age of 65 who have a permanent and significant disability to achieve their goals and enjoy an ordinary life. As well as reasonable and necessary funded supports, the NDIS helps people with a disability, their family and carers to access health, education and other government and community services and supports. It is being progressively rolled out across Australia; check the NDIS website to find if it’s available in your area.
Visit the NDIS website at www.ndis.gov.au
For more about how the NDIS works, see our Update on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or read an Interview with Desney King on her experience of the NDIS.
My Aged Care
My Aged Care is a national website and phone service that can help you navigate the aged care system and find support. This includes help to live independently at home, short term or respite care, and aged care homes. My Aged Care will assess your eligibility over the phone or face-to-face, work with you to develop a support plan, give you information about costs, and help you find services in your area.
Visit the website at www.myagedcare.gov.au, or call 1800 200 422 between 8am and 8pm on weekdays or between 10am and 2pm on Saturdays (closed Sundays and public holidays).
For more information
See our pages on Help to stay at home and Moving into residential care.
Legal Aid gives free legal help to eligible people.
Legal Aid gives free information to everyone over the phone.
Help with money
Centrelink can help you.
You can get a Health Care Card.
This makes it cheaper to buy medicine and for some health services.
You can get a concession card.
This makes your gas and power bills cheaper
It also makes car registration and public transport cheaper.
You can apply to get your superannuation early.
Many superannuation funds also have disability insurance.
Talk to a financial counsellor or advisor.
Financial counsellors give free help to people having trouble with money.
Financial advisers can give you advice about money. They will charge a fee.
Medicare Safety Net
Medicare Safety Net helps with high medical costs.
It can give you a higher Medicare benefit.
This makes it cheaper when you go to the doctor or have tests.
Different people get different amounts of help.
It depends on your situation.
At the pharmacy
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net is a similar thing.
It makes medicine cheaper.
Also ask your pharmacist about generic medicines.
These are cheaper.
At the doctor
Ask your doctor about a Chronic Disease Management Plan.
This makes it cheaper to see people like:
- occupational therapists
Ask your doctor about the Aids and Equipment Program.
This can help with things you need at home.
Ask your doctor about the Continence Aids Payment Scheme.
This can help you buy things you need if you have trouble getting to the toilet.
Ask your doctor about a discount on taxi travel.