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Effective NDIS Plan Management - A complete guide

Updated: Jun 25

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an Initiative from the Australian Government to assist people with disabilities to be able to live a normal life and integrate in to mainstream community.


NDIS can help people with disabilities by providing the required funding to purchase the supports and services that can help achieve their short-term and long-term goals and can empower people with disabilities to be able to live as independently as possible. NDIS refers to a person with a disability as a “Participant”.


Each NDIS participant once they are considered eligible for the scheme, will recieve an NDIS plan. It is a document that contains comprehensive information about participants’ life goals and their support needs, along with funding information as an approved budget to spend for each goal until the plan expiry. So, a plan has a start date and an expiry date and is typically for one year or in some cases for two to three years.


NDIS plan document provides overall direction in term of budget utilization and what supports can be purchased that is directly related to the participant’s needs. Some plans are more detailed.


Similar to managing your savings account in your day-to-day life, the NDIS plan budget needs to be managed so that the funds last until the expiry of your plan, to ensure continuity of services until your plan expiry.


Managing this budget can be daunting for some and definitely requires some financial and bookkeeping skills in order to do it correctly.


How to manage your ndis plan?


During the NDIS planning meeting, theplan review officer appointed by NDIA will ask the participant to select from one of the three options to manage the plan. You may wish to select one of the below options that best suits your needs -


1. Plan Managing your ndis plan – In this option, a service provider who is a plan manager and is a registered provider with NDIA manages your plan. When you select this option, you can choose both registered and unregistered providers, thereby giving you much greater flexibility to use your funding yet having full control over the plan usage.


Your plan manager will also help you with the management and solving the queries relating to your plan besides just paying all the bills and invoices. Plan managers are equipped with processes and tools and skilled at doing paperwork and record-keeping relating to plan payments that otherwise would have been done by you.


Some plan managers can also teach and build your financial skills so that you can manage your NDIS plan by yourself at a later stage should you wish to.


This option aims to take away the extra burden and stress, gives you the most flexibility, and is a helping hand within your NDIS journey.


Or


2. Let NDIA manage it – In this option, your chosen NDIS registered service providers claim the service Invoices in arrears, for supports provided to you from NDIA. Only registered NDIS providers can claim the service payments from NDIS by logging in to their system called PRODA.


This means you will not be able to receive service from a provider if they are not NDIA registered. In this type of funding mangaement, it will be your responsibility to track your funding usage, ensuring you be able to maximise your funding until the plan expiry. However, in this option, if you have a support coordinator funded in your paln, than they can assist you to not just organise and coordinate services but can also help you keep track of funding by periodic checking. For more details on the role of a suppport coordinator we have an article dedicated explaining the role. It can be accessed from the Weblink - here


Or


3. Self-Manage your plan – Within this option, your chosen NDIS registered or unregistered service providers will send the invoices directly to you in order to be get paid.


This option does give you the flexibility to use both registered and unregistered providers however this option does require you to have appropriate financial skills or at least be comfortable managing your finances and having the skills to operate a computer in order to lodge the claims via NDIS participant portal. You also have to be responsible for all the bookkeeping-related tasks of your plan.


Hence this option does give you some flexibility however you have to carry the responsibility of paying providers and often gets stressful if you are not comfortable doing it.


How to select a plan manager?


If you select plan management as an option to manage your plan, your plan will be built with extra funding which is separate from the other funding budget. Your choice to choose a plan manager does not affect your original funding at all.


Once you have a plan ready to go, you may do some research to select a better plan manager that suits your needs. In order to find an ideal plan manager, you can ask your support coordinator, Local Area Coordinator or you may search online.


Also, you can search the available providers in your area by accessing your ndis participant portal. While searching online make sure you check for reviews and ratings.


Once you get the contact information of two to more plan managers, you may wish to ring them and ask them questions relating to –


1. Their expertise and experience in doing plan management


2. Sense how friendly and supportive they are while speaking to them over the phone.

3. Check if they will come and see you before signing up with them.


What do plan managers do?


Until recently there has been no detailed guidance on what exactly a plan manager do besides pay your NDIS plan-related invoices. As a result, there was too much confusion.


However, the guide from NDIA, provided much-needed clarity on the responsibilities of a plan manager especially at the start and at the termination of the plan management service.


As per the NDIS guidelines, the plan manager must -


Meet you in person or over the phone to discuss with you in detail what plan management is and how will he or she be helping you over the course of your plan. It is only after this meeting that the plan manager is allowed to charge you the setup costs. The plan manager must record this meeting in some way as proof or evidence.


The first conversation meeting must cover topics such as

  • Discussing the service agreement with the plan manager giving you a copy

  • Whether you or your support coordinator need to see and approve all the invoices before processing?

  • Communication methods relating to any of your plan-related queries.

  • Communication methods relating to your invoices and their approval.

  • Discussion about your plan goals and funding.


Give you a report at least each month so to give you a clear idea about your spent and leftover funds.


Let you know if you are using funding too fast or too slow


Your plan manager can also tell you how to give feedback or make a complaint if you are unhappy with your other service providers.


If either of you or your plan manager wishes to cancel your agreement, give sufficient notice as per the agreement and agree on a cut-off date and


Plan manager must give you a report stating the left-over funding at the cut-off date.


Your plan manager cannot decide whether or not your services are reasonable and necessary and what services you must and must not get as this is decided by you and your support coordinator however your plan manager can certainly guide you with how much a service provider must charge you.


ELS Disability Services - Western Sydney, Australia | Ph: 1300 323 399 | www.elsaustralia.org



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