NDIS participant numbers for the over 65s could reach 100,000 within a decade. In a recently released paper from the Australian National University School of Social Sciences this could have implications for budget allocations between the NDIS and the aged card system. The figures are based on results showing the NDIS-eligible, ageing population is projected to increase from about 18,000 in 2017 to nearly 106,000 in 2026. An estimated 8000 men and 10,200 women aged 65 years and over will be eligible for NDIS support in 2017 (the scheme’s first full year).

Lead researcher, Dr Nicholas Biddle said in the paper that while people who acquire a disability aged 65 and over will continue to access services through the aged-care system, people with disability who enter the NDIS who are younger than 65 years may elect to stay in the system beyond the age of 65. This could potentially affect the costs of providing disability services to older Australians with disability services likely to be used with greater intensity by older people, increasing the overall costs of service provision.

Rates and severity of disability increase substantially with age, so as populations age governments will be challenged to provide disability-related services to an increasing share of the population, Dr Biddle said. Also very little is known about the mortality rates of Australians with disability.

The research looked not only at rates of transitions from people moving from mild to moderate and severe disability categories, but also to the estimated population growth and potential mortality rates among those people with severe disabilities with higher mortality rates. Improved estimates of the number of older people who will be covered by the NDIS are essential for planning and costing the scheme, he said.