How to manage your NDIS funding

Back to blog3 weeks ago by Renee
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The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can be a little overwhelming and daunting when you are starting out. Suddenly being responsible for asking for and spending funding can be a big change.

To help you get your head around this change we have some information around the funding management. In this article we step out your options, tell you what they mean, and offer up some of the pros and cons to consider when making your choice.  You should also discuss these options with the people helping you to prepare and implement your plan like your Local Area Coordinator and Early Childhood Partner.

There are four options available to you:

  1. Agency-managed
  2. Self-managed
  3. Plan management provider
  4. Combination of the above.

 

AGENCY-MANAGED

What is it?

This is the most popular option and means that the NDISwill manage the funding for your plan.

People are commonly using this option for their first 12 months while they become used to the new system. Once they’ve built their confidence up, they may choose to self-manage or create a mix of management options.  

Under this funds management you can only use service providers registered with the NDIA.

Pros

  • Stress free and easy
  • No financial accountability
  • No costs for you
  • Gives you the option to learn the system before deciding to self-manage or mix management options

Cons

  • You’re limited to choosing an NDIS registered service provider
  • No flexibility in your budget
     

SELF-MANAGED

What is it?

To self-manage your NDIS plan means that you or a nominee (generally a parent or guardian) will take control of the budget, hiring employees and making payments.

Self-managing your NDIS plan has been compared by many to running a small business. It does give you more choice and control, but you need to be organised and it’s a lot more work than other options.

Here, you have the full freedom to purchase the services you want. You have to think about what you’re trying to achieve from your NDIS plan and find the service providers to meet those needs.

Under this system you will need to:

  • negotiate the services you want from the provider
  • pay your own invoices from your petty cash
  • access your plan via the NDIS portal and decide which part of your plan you’ll claim the services under
  • make the claim
  • keep records in case you’re audited.

 

The other thing to consider is that while once upon a time the NDIS would provide a small advance in funding, they don’t do that anymore.

Here is what you need to do now:

  • pay your invoices from your own pocket then make a claim, or
  • negotiate delayed payment terms with your providers so that you can pay your invoices once you’ve claimed the cost from the NDIS, or
  • submit a claim up to one week before you access your services so that you have the money available to pay on the day.

There’s a lot to think about.

You may be eligible for a service that will support you as you get started with this option but you will absolutely need to talk to your NDIA planner about it during your planning session.

Visit the NDIS self managing budgets page for more information https://www.ndis.gov.au/participant/self-managing-budgets.html

Pros

  • Great for people who like full control
  • Super flexible

Cons

  • Requires strong financial management skills and record keeping
  • You need to negotiate prices with providers not registered with the NDIA
  • It can be time consuming
  • Choosing and arranging your own supports, including support workers can be tough
  • You may experience some out of pocket expenses until your claims are processed
  • You need to ensure that the relevant invoices for your supports are paid on time
  • It requires reporting to the NDIA how your self-managed funds are being used

PLAN MANAGEMENT PROVIDER

What is it?

The option to work with a plan management provider can feel a bit like having the best of both worlds. You get the same freedoms of choice that the self-management option offers you without having to get involved in all the messy financial administration.

Working with a plan management provider is a bit like having an accountant. You’ll make all the choices about your service providers and procure the service but the plan management provider will take care of the financial complexities and administration.

When you go into your NDIA planner meeting, you will need to let them know that you want to choose this option because then your plan will include the funding you need to cover the cost of your provider.

You need to do your research before you choose a plan management provider. Keep your eye out for any conflicts of interest and weigh up how much of a risk you consider those conflicts to be for you.

The other thing you need to know about this option is that there are two levels of service to choose between when you sign up with your plan management provider:

  1. Financial intermediary

This level provides you support purely around the administration of finances such as processing, claiming and paying invoices.
 

  1. Financial and service intermediary

This level provides you the abovementioned support but will also take care of service-level negotiations with your providers on your behalf.

If this is the way you want to go, the NDIS have an online tool that lists all the service providers registered with them. This list includes plan management providers. The costs are all listed here.

Pros

  • Stress free and easy
  • You maintain the freedoms of choice and control
  • The plan management provider may assist you with hiring and paying staff
  • Your plan management provider will complete all the paperwork and keep the records required
  • There are fees involved but the NDIS will cover them
  • No out of pocket costs

Cons

  • There is an extra person you will need to meet with regularly

 

But wait, there’s a fourth option

You should know that it’s also possible to combine a few of the above options to create a package that suits you and your family best.

Going this way is good for people who only really want control over certain services but are content with having the remainder of their plan sorted out by the NDIS.

Here’s what you would need to do if you choose this option:

  • Be clear about what supports you want to self-manage
  • Choose the supports you want
  • Organise your access to those supports
  • Pay your invoices
  • Make claims for your out-of-pocket payments
  • Keep records of your self-managed funds and report to the NDIS

Okay, what now?

Talk to your NDIA planner who is putting together your plan for submission and approval. It will need to be documented by them and, where appropriate, supports for your approach can be written into your plan. Discuss it with your Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood Partner/Early Childhood Intervention Access partner/Transition Provider. Read through the information on the NDIS website.

Remember, whatever option you choose, you’re not locked into it forever.

If you start down one path and realise it’s not working for you, talk to your transition provider/partner. You can also call the NDIS on their hotline and talk to them about making the changes you need.  

Call one of our friendly team to discuss these options further on 1300 888 378