So you have your NDIS plan. You may be feeling relief or excitement or confusion. How do you access the funds in your plan and how do you put them to the best possible use? Where do you find service providers that suit you and how do they get paid? How do you stick to your budget?
When it comes to managing your plan you have three options. The default option – the one you will end up with if you don’t specifically request otherwise – is that the NDIA will manage your funds for you. The two other options are self-management and plan management.
You can choose one of the three or you can choose a mix of methods. It’s entirely up to you.
Which options should I choose?
Choosing a professional plan manager like Plan Management Partners gives you all the benefits of self-management but with a dramatically reduced workload and with backup when you need it.
One of the key advantages is the ability to use providers that have not registered with the NDIA. A common example of this is where you might regularly use a therapist who is a sole trader and who doesn’t want the hassle of the NDIA registration process. You can’t use this type of provider if you leave your funds management with the NDIA.
Here’s a summary of the benefits of choosing a plan manager like Plan Management Partners:
- You get access to those unregistered providers but you don’t have any of the money or administrative hassles associated with self-management. We pay the provider, handle the claiming and keep all the records.
- You still choose the providers you want but we can make some suggestions if you’re not sure where to start – Plan Management Partners has a database of providers and we constantly strive to build our knowledge about their strengths and abilities.
- You agree on the details of service with each provider but we can help with making sure all your service agreements are in place and in getting those services underway.
- You only have to make one Service Booking for all the services that you ask the Plan Manager to manage.
- We’ll keep track of all the NDIS funds you’ve asked us to manage, helping you to get the most out of your plan whilst staying inside your budget, and
- At Plan Management Partners, we assign a dedicated “Plan Partner” who will be your regular contact to bounce ideas off or discuss any concerns.
So what about self-management?
Self-management is the other way to access those unregistered providers but it comes at a cost. You have a lot more administration to do and you may be out of pocket for a while.
The NDIA’s policy in this area has been changing. They used to advance a small amount of funds to cover you but that’s no longer the case. Now you must either:
- pay all your service providers from your own funds and then seek reimbursement from the NDIA, or
- negotiate delayed payment terms with your providers so that you can claim from the NDIA and pay the provider once the claim monies are received, or
- in some circumstances you may be able to submit a claim to the NDIA up to one week before service delivery so that claim monies are received in time to pay on the day of service
Whichever of these methods you choose you will be responsible for lodging claims in the NDIA portal for all services provided , ensuring all provider invoices are paid on time, reconciling the cash received from the NDIA with your payments to providers, and keeping all of your invoices and receipts. Like any computer system there is a learning curve involved with managing your affairs in the NDIS portal – you will need to be well organised and thorough in your transaction processing.
In addition, you will be on your own when finding the providers that are right for you, negotiating how, when and where your services will be delivered and setting up service agreements with each of them. You will also need to keep track of your spending to make sure you stay within budget whilst getting the most from your plan.
In short, with self-management your choice and control are high but so is your workload.
Then there’s the default option – let the NDIA manage your funds.
At first glance this option seems simple to administer because your providers are responsible for lodging claims with the NDIA after providing you with support. They will be paid directly by the NDIA and you won’t have to keep all those accounting records. But there are a few downsides and you do have to do a little work to set things up. Here’s a rundown:
- You get to choose your service providers but you can only select from those who have registered with the NDIA. If your preferred providers are not registered you will need to change to ones that are.
- You will be responsible for setting up service agreements with each of your providers, negotiating how, when and where those services will be delivered.
- Then, to allow your providers to seek payment directly from the NDIA, you will have to set up a Service Booking through the NDIA “myplace Participant Portal” for each provider you use.
- You will also need to use the portal to keep track of your plan balances.
Which is best?
We think the case for Plan management is a strong one. But what about the downsides?
We may be biased but we’re struggling to think of any. The Plan Management service comes at no cost to you – if you ask for Plan Management in your plan the NDIA will add funds to cover the costs. Plan Management provides the greatest level of choice, the greatest level of support and the least amount of work on your part. And if, for whatever reason, you ask for plan management but later change your mind, you can switch back to the other management options at any time.
It seems like all upside to us.
Just remember, because NDIA management is the default option, you need to let the NDIA know that you want Plan Management in your NDIS plan.