When a person gets set up with NDIS funding, they have three choices for managing their funds: management through the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), management through a private plan management company, or self-management.
There are benefits to each approach, but there is some confusion regarding self-management.
This guide discusses the things that NDIS participants need to know about NDIS plan self-management.
3 Myths About Self-Managing Your NDIS Funds
Before we dive into these common misconceptions, it’s essential to define some key terms.
Plan managers assist with the financial and high-level management of NDIS funds, while support coordinators help participants find providers and assist them with implementing their NDIS plans. Each role is integral to success in your NDIS journey - but their responsibilities are different.
- Myth #1: You’ll have more funds if you self-manage
Many participants mistakenly believe that they’ll retain more of their NDIS funding if they manage their own plans. This is not true - plan management funding is provided on top of your NDIS funding. it is not included with it. That means that if you opt for plan management, you’ll receive additional funds to cover that cost.
If someone you rely on for NDIS help states that self-management costs more, it’s wise to do some fact-checking on your own. The NDIS aims to make things easier for participants, and by providing funds for plan management, they take stress off of participants since self-management requires a lot of time, documentation and organisational skills.
- Myth #2: You can use your funds however you want while self-managing
Self-management does not give you free rein in the use of your NDIS funds. The money still has to go toward reasonable and necessary supports, and you’ll need to be able to provide justification to the NDIS to ensure that your funding is properly spent.
No matter how you manage your NDIS funds, you’ll need to stick to the supports and goals outlined in your specific plan - the funds can’t be used toward anything outside of that.
- Myth #3: You have more flexibility when you self-manage
This goes along with the second myth, but it’s worth describing in detail. Participants who opt for self-management are held to the same standards as those with plan managers. They must follow the same price guide, adhere to the same rules about service agreements and supports, and play by the same rules as any other NDIS participant.
Remember, you always have the freedom to choose your providers, even with plan management and support coordination. Plan managers and coordinators are here to help you reach your NDIS goals, not to dictate who you can meet with or to define your personal needs.
A quick note on self-management myths: it’s essential to get your information from reputable sources. NDIS groups on social media or posts in forums may be appealing for support and networking, but you shouldn’t rely on information from these sources. Always get your information directly from the NDIS, a plan manager, or a support coordinator, and double check anything that seems dubious.
What Is Required with Self-Managed NDIS Plans?
Self-management is a viable way to manage your NDIS funds - but it can be complex. If you’re considering this option, it’s critical to understand what’s required. In order to successfully self-manage your plan, you need to:
- Understand NDIS funding – The current NDIS price guide is 78 pages long, and contains lots of variations. The details associated with certain services can vary on tiny factors, such as the time of the day that a service is rendered, and there are codes associated with every support. Additionally, the guide is updated frequently, so you’ll need to stay aware of changes.
- Be aware of regular updates from NDIS and what they mean to you – The NDIS frequently releases changes that can affect participants in significant ways. This has especially been true during the pandemic when a range of new situations and concerns have required the NDIS to release new guidelines.
- Know how to navigate NDIS portals – NDIS portals can be hard to use. With a plan manager, you’ll have a dashboard that clearly displays all the information you need so that you don’t have to dig for data.
- Track funding allocation and spending of each service provider – If you choose to self-manage your NDIS funds, it’s critical to stay organised. You have to hold on to all invoices and receipts, and you must keep detailed records so that you can arrange for reimbursements. Failing to do so can impact your supports and can cost money if you forget to reimburse for a service.
- Track progression of expenditure vs the duration of plan – Plan managers review your budget every couple of months and analyse the bigger picture to make sure you’re on track for the year. This helps ensure you don’t underspend or overspend. If you self-manage, you’ll need to perform this analysis yourself so that you don’t risk running out of funds.
- Make your own claims through the portal – You’ll need to make sure that you have the right codes and verify that the claim is taken from the correct funding source. If you don’t match up the codes exactly, your reimbursement request will be denied.
- Stay on top of paying providers in a timely manner – Plan managers ensure providers are paid within 10 days at most, but usually sooner. If you’re seeing multiple providers on a weekly basis, it becomes challenging to keep track of all outgoing payments and to ensure that you hit deadlines.
- Participate in payment audit – Occasionally, the NDIA audits participants to ensure that funds are being used properly and that participants are remaining compliant with all NDIS rules. If you’re audited, you’ll need to provide documentation, such as receipts, invoices, and health professional’s recommendations to verify that your supports are reasonable and necessary. This can be a lot to manage without support from a plan manager.
- Become an NDIS expert – Plan management is valuable because you have supportive people that you can counsel with instead of having to contact NDIS directly. If you self-manage, you’ll have to spend time, resources and energy to become well-versed in all things NDIS so that you can manage your plan.
What else do participants need to be aware of with self-management?
The NDIS spells out the benefits of self-management on its website
, but it’s worth noting that all the perks of self-management can be achieved with a plan manager. You still have full flexibility to choose your providers and request required supports, and you won’t lose the opportunity to negotiate and advocate for yourself with your NDIS funds. Some of the benefits, such as the ability to employ staff directly, come with a lot of added responsibility and documentation.
If you have significant decisions to make about NDIS plan management, All Disability can help. Speak to a knowledgeable member of our team today to ask your questions about plan management.