How to:

Manage Your NDIS Funds

It is important to understand how and why you want your NDIS plan to be managed. There are three primary options when managing your plan and you even have the option of having different parts of your plan managed differently to others.

This is a decision that you will work through with your NDIA planner, LAC (Local Area Coordinator) or ECEI Coordinator (Early Childhood Early Intervention coordinator, if you have a child under the age of 7).

Self-Management

Self-management of NDIS plans gives you the power and control over what supports you acquire and utilize to meet your plan’s goals.

There are a host of pros and cons. However, the most important thing to consider before deciding to self-manage is all of the additional responsibilities you take on. It is often compared to running your own small business. 

Not only do you have to write, keep, and maintain accurate records but you also need to be able to budget and forecast accurately. Furthermore, you are responsible for managing your supports and resolving any issues that arise yourself. Therefore, having the ability to advocate yourself is a must.

However, the benefits are significant. The most significant of these is that you are empowered. If you know what you need and know how to do that then you can create your own successful outcomes. Additionally, you are not limited by the choice you have in regards to your supports. Managing your funds independently of a service provider or the NDIS means that you have the additional ability to maximize your funding. Where it goes – as long as it supports your goals – is up to you!

As time goes by more and more apps and services are being established to help people who self-manage to build their capacity. We will discuss and highlight these elsewhere on the Bradannii Blog.

In conclusion, if you can handle the significant stress and responsibilities of self-management then it is a great choice. However, be warned that it is not for everybody. Our suggestion for those determined to self-manage would be to start out by utilizing this strategy for part of your plan and expanding from there if successful.

Pros

  • You are empowered to create your success
  • Ability to choose your supports based on the criteria you set for success
  • Maximize your funding
  • Ability to get assistance to build your capacity

Cons

  • A lot of additional responsibilities; you need to be able to advocate for yourself
  • It can be more stressful than running your own business
  • You must provide the NDIA all of your financial records and evidence of support in plan review
  • It is your responsibility to find your support staff, hire them, and manage their rosters

NDIA Managed Planning

NDIA managed planning is often considered the easiest way to have your NDIS funds managed. This is because the NDIA will process and pay all of your claims on your behalf. This means that you are never responsible for any of your paperwork which should provide you peace of mind.

However, there are some significant drawbacks. First, and most importantly, you must use registered NDIS support providers. The reason that this can be a problem is that it can, in some cases, severely limit your options in terms of support. However, all registered providers follow the NDIS’ price guide which means that there will never be any nasty surprises. 

Another drawback is that you will receive a lack of independent advice on how to best utilize your funds. This is where a plan manager is especially handy. As a result, you will have to do the research and negotiate with the NDIA on what supports you require.

Finally, you lack the ability to use tracking software and the handy tools that have been developed to aide your understanding of your plan and how your funding is utilized.

Pros

  • The NDIA processes your claims
  • All of your paperwork is completed by the NDIA
  • The NDIA pays your service providers
  • Your support providers must follow the NDIA’s price guide

Cons

  • Limited to using NDIS-registered providers only
  • Inability to access handy tools to track spending
  • Lack of independent advice on how to spend your funds

Plan-Managed Funding

A plan manager is a person, organization, or both who has been authorized by the NDIA to act in that role. A plan-manager will pay the providers for the supports that you utilize, take care of all financial reporting on your behalf, keep track of the funds that you have available, and may also even be able to provide advice and assistance in choosing providers to use.

The biggest advantage to using a plan manager is that it eliminates the stress of having to manage your own funds. Secondly, unlike with NDIA-managed funding you maintain the ability of control and choice as you are not limited to NDIS-approved providers. Essentially, you can choose your own supports much in a similar fashion as to when you manage your own funding. However, your manager may advise against certain supports. Finally, although there are costs incurred, they do not come out of your therapy and supports.

Unfortunately, there are a few potential drawbacks. First is the fact that there are fees incurred especially when you elect to utilise a provider who charges above the prices listed in the NDIS price guide. When this occurs, it is on you to pay the difference. This can be quite costly dependent upon the service, support and provider chosen. 

Perhaps most significant to understand is that not all plan managers are created equal. Unfortunately, there have been organizations who have pitched their tents as plan managers only to be discovered to be dodgy fraudsters

However, even if your provider isn’t performing illegal activities, that doesn’t mean that they are capable of acting in your best interests. Quality of managers can and do vary wildly. For example, you may find a manager who is perfect for you. They are the type to go above and beyond and they possess the knowledge to obtain the best supports possible for you. On the other hand, you may find a plan manager who lacks the human characteristics required to help you obtain your best outcome. In this case, you could suffer more than if you self-managed your funds!

Pros

  • The NDIA processes your claims
  • All of your paperwork is completed by the NDIA
  • The NDIA pays your service providers
  • Your support providers must follow the NDIA’s price guide

Cons

  • Fees involved – covered by the NDIS
  • Quality of service can vary wildly among managers
  • If you choose a provider who charges above the NDIS Price Guide, you pay the difference.

The Bradannii Conclusion

All three of the NDIS plan management systems has their own distinct pros and cons. It really is not a case of one size fits all. What will work best for you will not necessarily be the best option for somebody else.

If you have key financial management skills and ability to absorb high levels of stress then managing your own funds may be right for you.

Alternatively, if you’re happy to go along with an NDIA approved supports system and don’t want the stress of financial management then NDIA-managed funding is possibly going to be right for you.

Finally, if you’re looking for flexibility in your supports, want the peace of mind of not having to complete your own paperwork and can find a capable plan manager then having a plan manager may be your ideal solution.

However, the ultimate solution may be using a combination of these options in different areas of your plan. The beauty of the NDIS is that this truly is an option for you.

 

Elsewhere on the Bradannii Blog…

 

Before you leave us, we believe that you may be interested in other entries on our blog. These include:

We get it. The NDIS contains a lot jargon. This can be intimidating for anyone. We break down the terms in a must-read glossary and explain the terms you need to know!

This entry guides you through the application process for the NDIS. Bradannii wants you to get it right the first time!

Once you have been accepted for the NDIS the most important step is the planning process. In this blog we guide you on how to get the most out of it. This will go a long way to ensuring the NDIS is a success for you.

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