NDIS Self Management
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What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
After your eligibility is approved for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, you’ll need to decide how to manage your support funds. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS, gives you funding to pay for support services related to a disability. However, because there are specific rules about how the money can be spent, NDIS funding needs to be carefully managed.
The person or agency who manages your NDIS funding is responsible for managing four things. First, they must ensure that all the services and items purchased are eligible for funding, that their price is fair, and that they fall into the correct support categories. Second, the manager must ensure that the service providers meet all the requirements to offer NDIS services. Third, the manager must ensure that you use the full amount of your approved funding without overspending your budget. And finally, the manager must ensure that at least five years of service agreements, invoices, receipts, and other relevant records are kept organized and accessible in case of an audit.
Managing NDIS funding can be a complex task, and you have three options for how your funding is managed. You can choose to manage your support yourself; you can have your support managed by a provider; or you can opt for NDIA-managed services. You can also opt for a combination of the three.
Self-managed NDIS support gives you the most control, but it also burdens you with the most responsibility and accountability. When you self-manage, you’re responsible for finding, hiring, and paying each individual provider for each type of support you receive. You have full control over every aspect of your services, but you’re also responsible for keeping detailed records and keeping track of your bud
Who Manages the NDIS?
The biggest benefit of self-managing your NDIS is choice. You can use any provider you choose, even a provider who isn’t registered with NDIS (as long as they have an ABN and the necessary insurance). If you’re already using an unregistered provider, or if you have a friend whom you want to hire for your support, then self-management allows you this.
Self-managing also gives you flexibility. Because you can choose any provider you want for each type of support, you have full control over both the providers and the scheduling of your support services. And since you can also do a combination of self-managed and provider-managed, the option of self management gives you added flexibility, enabling you to add supports as needed as long as they fall into an eligible category.
Another benefit of self-management is control. You have full control over your budget, and you can negotiate lower or higher costs as you see fit, with no need to conform to the NDIS price guide. You can use your funding in innovative and creative ways, as long as it fits into your eligible categories.
Who is Eligible for NDIS Funding?
However, there are also disadvantages to self managing your NDIS funds. The main disadvantage is the responsibility involved: it can be complicated and challenging to keep track of all the guidelines, records, and spending. Too much flexibility and choice can also be a disadvantage: because providers don’t have to conform to the NDIS price guide, you could pay significantly more for services. In addition, although it’s convenient to be able to schedule services whenever you choose, it’s also time-consuming to do all the scheduling, paying, and record-keeping yourself.
Another significant disadvantage has to do with the way funds are managed under the NDIS. Although self-managing means that funds will be disbursed directly to you, you can’t receive NDIS money until after you’ve received services. This means you may have to pay providers out of your own money, and then wait to be reimbursed by NDIS. Your claim should process within two days, and many providers are willing to invoice you and wait for your claim to process instead of requiring payment at time of service. However, this flexibility isn’t required, so you should be prepared to pay for your support services before you receive NDIS funds for them.
It’s also important to know that although self-managing will demand a considerable amount of your time, it probably won’t save you money. As an NDIS participant, you’re entitled to a free plan manager who will manage your budget, pay providers, and organise and maintain your records. The cost of a plan manager won’t come out of your NDIS budget funds; it’s additional funding that you qualify for automatically as a participant.
What Services Are Eligible for NDIS Support?
If you decide that self-managing is the best choice for you, here’s what you’ll need to do.
First, open a new bank account that you’ll use only for NDIS funds. This will make your records and budget much easier to manage. The account must be in the name of the participant, or in their parent’s name if the participant is a child.
Next, choose your providers. You can use NDIS registered providers if you want, but this isn't required. Keep in mind that you don’t have to self-manage all your support; if you want to self-manage just the supports you receive from one specific provider, you can do that.
After you’ve chosen the provider, you’ll need to negotiate the cost of your support services. Check the NDIS price guide to estimate a fair price for the services, but remember that unregistered providers may not conform to these prices. If a provider’s price is higher than the guide recommends, make sure you understand what value they’re offering and why their price is higher.
Once you’ve agreed on costs, you can book services. Self-management gives you total flexibility in scheduling service appointments. However, you’re also responsible for ensuring that the service you’re booking is eligible for NDIS funding. The NDIS guide (p. 8) offers helpful criteria, and it’s a good idea to double-check, before you book a service, that the service is eligible and in an approved category.
After you receive the service, it’s your responsibility to pay. As mentioned above, this may mean you have to pay out of your own funds and then wait a day or two to receive NDIS reimbursement. You may be able to avoid this difficulty by opening a no-fee credit card specifically for NDIS services, in addition to your dedicated bank account. You can use the credit card to pay any providers who require payment immediately at time of service. Then, after your claim is processed and you receive reimbursement for the service, pay the balance on your card.
To get reimbursed, you’ll need to file a claim for the service. Login to your myplace portal, and click the icon on the homepage that says “Add my payment request.” Then add and submit all the details about your support service. You’ll need to upload a copy of the invoice from your provider, which must include the provider’s name, their ABN, the date you received the support service, a short description of the support and how it relates to your eligible support categories, the amount of support provided, and the price.
After each service rendered, make sure you keep a record of every transaction. As a self-managed NDIS participant, you’re required to keep all your records, including each service agreement, invoice, transaction, and payment, for at least five years. The NDIS can regularly conduct random audits of any participant, so it’s important to keep these records organised and accessible in case you need them.
Finally, you need to continually keep track of your funding budget. This means you’ll need to plan what to spend on each type of support, know whether you’re on track to spend the correct amount of funding, and figure out how to adjust your budget if you need to spend more than anticipated on a particular support.
How Does NDIS Funding Work?
Self-managing your NDIS funds can be both challenging and rewarding. Self management is probably the right choice for you if:
- You live in a rural area and few or no NDIS providers are available in your region;
- You want to use a specific provider who charges more than the NDIS price guide allows;
- You have time and ability to do all the tasks involved; and
- You want full control over your plan and support spending.
Self managing your NDIS is not a good fit for you if:
- You feel you need a lot of expert advice to be able to manage and spend your budget and ensure that your purchases are eligible;
- You don’t want the responsibility of keeping track of all your records and invoices in case of an audit;
- You don’t want to risk having to use your own funds to pay providers at time of service and waiting for reimbursement; or
- You just don’t have the time or ability to do all the tasks required for self-management.
Who is Eligible for NDIS Funding?
If self-management isn’t the right choice for you, you have several other options. First, you can choose a plan manager. A plan manager will do all the same tasks that you would do if you were managing, and this option offers much of the same flexibility. For example, with a plan manager, you can still choose providers who are not NDIS registered. You can also still choose your providers with a plan manager, and you can still negotiate prices if you want (but costs must be lower than the NDIS price guide).
Second, you can choose agency management. An agency-managed NDIS plan is the simplest option: the agency manages all the providers, pricing, and records; you simply receive services. If you’re overwhelmed by the administration of self-management, then agency management could be a good fit, since it requires the least involvement from you.
Finally, you can choose a combination of several management options. For example, perhaps you don’t want the responsibility of self-managing all your funds, but you have a therapist you like who isn’t a registered NDIS provider. You can self-manage only the support you receive from that therapist, and the rest of your plan can be managed by an NDIS provider agency. Combining options like this can be the best of both worlds, giving you flexibility and control when you need it while avoiding the administrative burden of full self-management.
Learn More About Your Options for NDIS Self Management
If you’d like to learn more about NDIS self-management, download the official NDIA guide, or contact us to learn about the supports we offer for NDIS participants.