The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a service provided by the Australian Government to support individuals with disabilities. With this program, eligible Australians can enjoy access to services that can help them develop new skills, knowledge, and stronger community connections. These enable participants to increase their confidence and independence, in turn enriching their lives and those around them. The NDIS plan achieves this through customised funding for each participant, depending on their needs and preferences.
Effective management of support plans and funds is important for the success of the NDIS. There are three (3) methods of managing an NDIS fund that participants can choose from depending on their needs, preferences, and capacity to manage their fund. Agency-Managed wherein the entire plan is entrusted upon the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), Self-Managed that allows the participant full control of their fund management from finding their own providers to preparing their own financial reports, to Plan-Managed where an external trusted partner is chosen by the participant to help them make the most of their NDIS fund.
In this article, we’ll explore NDIS Plan Management, its benefits, and the advantages of working with a dedicated Plan Manager. From increased flexibility, improved service coordination, and hassle-free financial management to transparent tracking and full NDIS compliance, a Plan Manager can play a pivotal role in enhancing your NDIS experience. Towards the end, we also provided tips on where to find trusted NDIS Plan Managers, what you can expect their responsibilities are, and what to do in the event that you decide to change your NDIS Plan Manager.
Before diving deep into NDIS Plan Management however, let’s introduce the three distinct types of NDIS Funding Management available for participants to choose from. By understanding these options, individuals can make informed decisions regarding the most suitable type of fund management and the NDIS plan management agency that aligns with their needs.
Types of NDIS plan management
NDIS-Managed is when the NDIS manages your funding directly. The agency is also the one that coordinates with the service provider, receives the invoice, and provides the payment. One limitation of the NDIS-Managed Plan is that you can only work with NDIS-Registered Service Providers. This is ideal for people who do not require a lot of flexibility in their fund management and do not mind working solely with select NDIS plan management providers. This can be more difficult for people who live in areas where there are not many registered providers and long waiting lists. To keep track of your funding, you can visit the MyPlace portal on the NDIS website.
- No need to worry about financial budgeting, record and bookkeeping, as well as report creation
- No additional cost
- No need to create a separate bank account
- No need for an audit
- Can only work with limited-service NDIS plan management providers
- Less flexibility with services offered by registered providers
- Less control on fund management
- Participants who do not want to worry about paperwork and do not require customised or highly flexible services
The NDIS Self-Managed Plan provides participants with full autonomy and responsibility in managing their NDIS funding. This means participants can fully customise their NDIS funding based on their individual needs, not limited to services related to disabilities. Under a Self-Managed Plan, participants are required to create a separate bank account dedicated to NDIS Fund Management and fill out forms online or in-person to process fund transfers or reimbursements.
In comparison to NDIS-Managed plans, where the agency handles all payments, Self-Managed participants are responsible for managing their own invoices and ensuring timely payment to service providers. Participants may need to pay upfront initially, as there may be a waiting period for the funds to arrive in their bank account. Self-Managed participants also need to maintain thorough records of invoices, track their funding expenses, and monitor the remaining balance. Furthermore, participants have the freedom to choose their own service providers, and, in some cases, negotiate on prices paid per service
With full autonomy, Self-Managed participants can choose to negotiate higher fees for their high-value service providers and negotiate lower rates for other less urgent or minor needs. This level of flexibility empowers participants to optimise their NDIS funding and allocate resources according to their individual priorities.
- Full control and management of NDIS funds
- Ability to approve each service invoice
- Ability to choose any service provider, registered or non-registered
- Ability to negotiate rates with service providers
- Requires skills in financial management, bookkeeping, accounting, and report generation
- Requires strong discipline and organisational skills
- Requires a separate bank account for NDIS purposes
- May need to pay upfront and wait for reimbursement
- Might need to be audited
Great for: Individuals who want to have full control of their NDIS fund and have the technical skills required for financial management, accounting, and bookkeeping.
Plan-Managed funding occurs when a participant engages an NDIS Plan Manager who then fulfils the roles of a financial manager, an accountant, and a bookkeeper. With Plan-Managed funding, participants are relieved of the burden of paperwork while maintaining complete control over the selection of services and the allocation of their funding. The Plan Manager manages invoices and ensures timely payment to service providers. It is important to note that hiring a Plan Manager does not incur any additional cost, as the NDIS covers this expense by including it in the participant’s funding.
- Freedom to work with any service provider, both NDIS-registered and non-registered
- Complete control of your funding
- Ability to approve every service and invoice
- A dedicated Plan manager handles all paperwork and manages tasks, including accounting, bookkeeping, payment to service providers, report generation, and financial tracking
- No additional cost
- No audit
- Unable to avail services above the NDIS price guide
- Participants who want to enjoy full autonomy in their NDIS fund management, but do not want to worry about paperwork
Understanding NDIS Plan Management
The NDIS Plan-Managed option allows participants to choose a registered plan manager to handle the financial aspects of their NDIS funding. Under this arrangement, participants receive greater choice and control while alleviating the administrative burden associated with managing their funds. With a dedicated plan manager, participants can focus on utilising their funding effectively to reach their goals.
Benefits of NDIS Fund Plan-Managed
- Increased Flexibility. Opting for NDIS Fund Plan Managed offers participants greater flexibility and choice in accessing services. With a dedicated plan manager, participants can explore a broader range of service providers. This allows for a more personalised and tailored approach to support, ensuring that participants receive the most suitable services for their individual needs.
- Simplified Financial Management. The Plan-Managed NDIS option simplifies the financial management process for participants. Plan managers handle administrative tasks, such as processing payments and managing invoices, relieving participants of these responsibilities. This streamlines the financial aspect, enabling participants to focus on their goals and the services they require to enhance their quality of life.
- Improved Service Coordination. With a dedicated plan manager, participants benefit from enhanced service coordination. The plan manager collaborates with service providers, ensuring seamless communication and coordination of support. This results in a more cohesive and integrated approach, minimising gaps in service delivery and promoting a holistic support network for participants.
- Transparent Financial Tracking. NDIS Fund Plan Managed provides participants with transparent financial tracking. Plan managers maintain detailed records of funds, expenditures, and invoices, offering participants a clear overview of their NDIS funding utilisation. This transparency promotes accountability and empowers participants to make informed decisions regarding their support and services.
- Support with NDIS Compliance. Plan managers are well-versed in NDIS regulations and compliance requirements. They ensure that all financial processes align with NDIS guidelines, reducing the risk of non-compliance. This expertise provides participants with peace of mind, knowing that their funding is managed in accordance with the necessary regulations and standards.
Where to find NDIS Plan Manager
When looking for the most suitable NDIS Plan Manager, some channels participants can check out are:
- The list provided by the Local Area Coordinator
- Early childhood partner or support coordinator
- Provider Finder Tool available in the NDIS MyPlace Portal
- Recommendations from trusted family and friends
- Online resources and website
When you have identified a Plan Manager that you are interested in working with, it is important to actively assess their suitability. Begin by checking for reviews or testimonials from previous clients, seeking advice from trusted individuals, and conducting an interview with your potential Plan Manager where you can ask pertinent questions. These steps are essential considerations before finalising your selection.
Once you have chosen a Plan Manager, engage in discussions with them regarding your goals. Subsequently, the Plan Manager will prepare the service agreement, which should comprehensively outline the type of support they will provide, the channels and processes through which it will be delivered, and the associated fees.
Responsibilities of NDIS Plan Manage
NDIS fund plan managers provide the necessary support and assistance to the participants by overseeing and administering the financial aspects of their plan. NDIS Plan Managers must possess expertise in financial management and an in-depth understanding of the NDIS guidelines and funding models. Their responsibilities include:
- Helping participants understand their plans and maximising their benefits. They explain the various support categories, budgets, and funding allocations, helping participants make informed decisions about the services they require and how to best utilise their funding.
- Ensuring that service providers charge participants correctly for their services. Plan Managers review and verify invoices from service providers, ensuring that the fees charged are in alignment with the agreed-upon rates and services outlined in the participant’s plan. This helps participants avoid overcharging or incorrect billing.
- Expanding participants’ choices and flexibility by providing resources and information about service providers. They offer guidance on both registered and non-registered providers, giving participants a broader range of options to suit their needs and preferences.
- Paying NDIS plan management providers on time is the responsibility of the Plan Manager. By paying invoices on time, Plan Managers help maintain positive relationships with service providers and ensure that participants receive the support they require without disruption.
- Assisting participants in developing their financial literacy skills, providing guidance on budgeting, tracking expenses, and making informed financial decisions. This empowers participants to take control of their funding, promoting independence and self-management.
- Preparing budget reports for participants, detailing the allocation and expenditure of funds. These reports offer transparency and accountability, helping participants monitor their spending and make adjustments as necessary.
- Monitoring the funds available in participants’ plans. They keep track of spending, alert participants when their budgets are nearing depletion, and help with the implementation of any necessary changes or adjustments to ensure ongoing support.
How to Change an NDIS Plan Manager
Participants may have various reasons for opting to change their Plan Manager, and in such instances, procedures are in place to facilitate the seamless transfer of NDIS plan management services. As the agreement concludes, the Plan Manager is responsible for preparing a Fund Report detailing the participant’s NDIS funding utilisation and the remaining balance. Additionally, participants must also communicate their desire to change with their current Plan Manager.
With AIIM Choices, participants can also rely on AIIM Choices to handle all the necessary paperwork involved in the transition, without incurring any additional costs.
Additional information on changing NDIS Plan Manager includes:
- Reach out to the NDIA either by phone or through their website. Inform them about your desire to change your current NDIS Plan Manager.
- Before making the switch, gather all the relevant details related to your current NDIS Plan Manager, such as their contact information and your plan details. This will help streamline the process and ensure a smooth transition.
- Look for alternative NDIS Plan Managers that align with your requirements and preferences. Consider factors such as their reputation, experience, services offered, fees, and customer reviews.
- Compare different NDIS Plan Managers based on the information you gathered. Evaluate their ability to meet your needs and preferences, and consider seeking recommendations from other NDIS participants or support networks.
- Once you have decided on a new NDIS Plan Manager, get in touch with them to initiate the transfer process. Provide them with your current plan details, including your NDIS participant number and contact information.
- Let your current Plan Manager know. Notify your current NDIS Plan Manager about your intention to change. They will work with you and the new Plan Manager to facilitate a smooth transition. They might also assist in transferring necessary paperwork or funds.
- Review the agreement or contract provided by the new Plan Manager. Ensure that you understand all the terms and conditions before signing any documents. Seek clarification if you have any doubts or concerns.
- Once everything is in place, remember to inform your support network, service providers, and any other relevant parties about the change in your NDIS Plan Manager. Ensure that they update their records and communication channels accordingly.
- During the transition, it is important to monitor everything. Stay in touch with both your current and new NDIS Plan Managers throughout the transition process. Regularly check the progress and address any issues or concerns that may arise.
- Once the transition is complete, confirm with the NDIA that your new NDIS Plan Manager is officially registered and active in your NDIS plan. Update your records accordingly and enjoy the support and services provided by your new Plan Manager.
With the NDIS Fund Plan-Managed option, participants are provided with the opportunity to take control of their NDIS plan management services while simplifying the administrative aspects of financial management, accounting, and bookkeeping. By embracing this option, individuals with disabilities can experience increased flexibility, choice, and coordination of support.
Through these services, a dedicated plan manager overseeing the NDIS funding of participants will allow them to navigate their NDIS journey with confidence, optimising their access to services and working towards achieving their goals.
When choosing a Plan Manager, consider AIIM Choices, a leader in the NDIS community specialising in NDIS access application and plan management. AIIM Choices offers participants a dedicated plan manager tailored to their needs, available in over 15 languages and through communication channels that best suit them.
AIIM Choices also provides clients with an NDIS Plan Management Phone App, enabling participants to immediately access their funding. The app offers features such as budget totals, plan expiration dates, invoice approvals and tracking, and confirmation of payment to service providers. Take the next step in optimising your NDIS Plan-Management funding by contacting AIIM Choices today to learn more!