How to access support

Its important to know that everyone who is disabled or caring for someone who is disabled can get some level of support.

There is an eligibility criteria for Ministry funded support so it is worthwhile taking the time to understand how that works, what you would be entitled to and how to start the process. Check if you're eligible for Ministry funded support

Ministry funded disability support services are available to people who have a physical, intellectual or sensory disability (or a combination of these) which:

  • is likely to continue for at least six months
  • needs ongoing support to live independently, to the extent that ongoing support is required.

These services are mainly for people under the age of 65 years.

The Ministry will also fund disability support services for people with:

  • some neurological conditions that result in permanent disabilities
  • some developmental disabilities in children and young people, such as Autism
  • physical, intellectual or sensory disability that co-exists with a health condition and/or injury.

The first place you need to go to is your local needs assessment service.  They will be able to confirm if these apply to you and some of them will provide you with a referral form. The process differs slightly from region to region however this first phone call is the start of the process.

What happens if you're not eligible for support?

The Ministry does not generally fund disability support services for people with:

  • personal health conditions such as diabetes or asthma
  • mental health and addiction conditions such as schizophrenia, severe depression or long-term addiction to alcohol and drugs
  • conditions more commonly associated with ageing such as Alzheimer’s disease.

However, that doesn't mean there aren't other sources of support.

Disability support services for people with mental health needs or age-related needs are generally funded by the Ministry of Health external URL .

Disability support services for people with impairments such as paraplegia and brain injury caused by accident or injury are generally funded by ACC. Find out more about what they fund at ACC - What we cover external URL .

We can also direct you to other support services which you can access yourself. These can be found on our Disability Information and Advisory Services section of our site.

Get a needs assessment

Needs assessments are the first step in the eligibility process and are available if you meet the Ministry’s definition of disability. A needs assessment looks at your abilities, resources, goals and needs and is completed by a Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) organisation.

The role of a NASC is to work with disabled people and their family, whānau or carers to:

  • identify strengths and support needs
  • outline what disability support services are available
  • determine eligibility for ministry funded support services
  • maximise independence so that you can live the life you want
  • make sure that the support and services allocated are fair and fit within the criteria.

Please note: If you live in Mid Central, Waikato or Christchurch, there are EGL sites near you. It's worth visiting the Enabling Good Lives Sites external URL page of the National EGL website to understand a bit more about each of them. They operate slightly differently from each other and from a NASC in that they do not do needs assessments.

How to get started

The first thing to do is identify a Needs Assessment Coordinator service local to you who can have an over the phone consultation with you regarding your potential eligibility. You can call them yourself or, another person or organisation can make the call for you, as long as they have your agreement. This could even be your GP if you are more comfortable with them making that first step for you.

Once the NASC has heard from you, they will review your eligibility for Ministry funded disability support services. They’ll make an appointment with you and any family, whānau, āiga or carer you would like to have with you. Please note there is usually a waitlist for in person appointments. 

If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for Ministry funded disability support services, then the NASC will work with you to find other services that may be able to assist.

Find a needs assessment service near you to start the process.

Connect with a Disability Information Advisory Service

Disability Information Advisory Services (DIAS) provide independent information and advice to disabled people and their families/whānau.

They can assist you to find:

  • support and advocacy groups
  • a NASC organisation in your area
  • information about what's available in your community
  • information related to a particular disability.

DIAS services run regionally and nationally, they are free services and available to anyone. Some of the organisations listed on our directory are Ministry funded and some are not. We have tried to provide a list of organisations to support you and provide a range of information and supports. Please note, we are in no way responsible for the service they deliver.

Find a Disability Information Advisory Service