Disability benefits cut out at the age of 65, leaving many older people with disability unable to cover the costs of their care, the Member for Warringah has told parliament.

The cut off is an example of “discrimination” against older people, said Zali Steggall MP, who presented a petition to parliament on Tuesday, the International Day of People with Disability.

The petition is calling for “urgent action” and changes to legislation that would allow increased support for people over the age of 65 who are living with disability.

Cross bench independents Rebekha Sharkie and Helen Haines are supporting Ms Steggall’s campaign for reform.

Ms Steggall told HelloCare, “It was a privilege to present the NDIS petition where I was able to represent what thousands of Australians want politicians to hear. 

“This petition was on behalf of 69-year-old quadriplegic Chris English who is a victim of age discrimination by NDIS, which doesn’t cover people over the age of 65.”

“Legislative changes are required to eliminate discrimination”

Ms Steggall told parliament that laws in Australia must change to remove the cut-off for NDIS funding for those aged 65 years and older.

Those already on the NDIS can continue to receive it past the age of 65, but those who become disabled after the age of 65 are not able to access funding through the scheme.

“Legislative changes are required to eliminate discrimination of older people with a disability,” said Ms Steggall.

“Older people are unable to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after the age of 65. 

“The maximum aged care Government subsidy of $50,250 per annum is insufficient for people who have extensive care needs, such as people who have quadriplegia. 

“Regardless of age, people over the age of 65 with disability should be entitled to access NDIS benefits to support them in receiving the care they require,” she said.

A spokesperson for The Department of Social Services told HelloCare, “The NDIS is not intended to replace the health or aged care systems. 

“For those 65 and over, there is a range of supports available within the aged care system that can be accessed through My Aged Care, which may be suitable for older people with disability.”

$250,000 funding gap for older people

Chris English and his wife Bobbie were in the gallery on Tuesday. The couple started the petition, which attracted 19,446 signatures.

Mr English was enjoying his 69th birthday with his family when he suddenly fainted and fell. He became a quadriplegic. 

“Had Mr English been 64 years old when the accident occurred, he could have accessed an NDIS plan and up to $300,000 in support to meet his needs,” Ms Steggall told parliament on Tuesday.

“Instead, being over 65, Chris is not eligible for NDIS and can only receive $50,000 under a My Aged Care plan. 

“This is not meeting his needs. It is age discrimination and is impacting many others in Australia.”

“The petition is about drawing attention to the changes that are required to eliminate discrimination against older people with a disability,” Ms Steggall said. 

“We either need an exemption to NDIS for people aged over 65 who have an accident or illness, or My Aged Care needs to better cater for those with a disability unrelated to ageing,” Ms Steggall concluded.

Ms Steggall said, “I encourage anyone in this position to make submissions to the Aged Care and Disability Royal Commissions.”

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