During your NDIS planning meeting you will be asked how you wish to manage your plan once it is signed off. There are three different ways that your plan can be managed and it’s important to know the difference between the three so that you can choose the option that best suits you and your family’s needs and capabilities.
The three options are self- managed, plan-managed or agency (NDIA) managed. You can also use a combination of the three. For example, you could choose to have your Improved Daily Living supports agency managed, which would allow therapy providers to claim directly to the NDIA for their services while self-managing the Core supports or consumables budget could give you flexibility of choice and control over how much you spend for items.
Looking at the three options from a payment perspective:
With a self-managed plan, you pay your support providers directly and apply for reimbursement from the NDIS. You are solely responsible for all the administration associated with your plan and liaison with providers etc.
If you appoint a plan manager they will look after the financial and administrative elements of the plan for you. The NDIA will pay your plan manager who will then pay your providers for you.
If you choose NDIA management they will pay your providers directly.
However, besides the financial element of how providers are paid, there are other things you need to consider when choosing which route to take. Here’s an overview of the key differences between the three options and some of the pros and cons of each…
According to the NDIS the benefits of self-management are that you have control, independence and flexibility in arranging and paying for your supports.
You can choose what supports you purchase in line with what’s included in your plan and who provides these supports. The provider does not have to be NDIA registered so you will have a much wider choice of who you can work with and you’ll also have the capacity to employ or contract staff directly or have someone employ staff on your behalf.
As you’re in control of your budget you can negotiate costs of your supports to get best value for money – possibly stretching your funds further. You are also not bound by the price guide limits, so if you do wish to pay more than the agency stated amount for a piece of equipment you are free to do so.
Along with the freedom and flexibility afforded by self-management you also have a number of responsibilities that you do not have with the other two options. The NDIS website states that these include:
- Purchasing supports that link to the goals in your NDIS plan.
- Making clear agreements with your providers about the supports you will receive including how they will be provided and paid for.
- Keeping invoices and receipts to show you have paid for your supports using your NDIS funding.
- Meeting your obligations as an employer if you choose to employ staff directly.
- Showing how you’ve used your self-managed funding towards reaching your goals at your plan review.
- Advising the NDIA of any significant changes in your circumstances that may result in you being unable to meet your responsibilities as a self-manager.
- Participating in any payment auditing where you will need to provide invoices, receipts or other evidence to show you have spent your funds in-line with your NDIS plan (you should keep financial records for 5 years).
PLAN MANAGEMENT PROVIDER
If you choose the plan management option, a plan manager will be funded in your plan and they must be a registered NDIS provider.
With a plan manager you will have the same flexibility of service provider choice for your plan supports as self-management (i.e. they do not have to be NDIS registered) with the only key difference being that plan-managed supports cannot be paid at a rate higher than the NDIS price guide. They can, of course, negotiate on your behalf to pay a lower price to maximise your funds.
The key benefits of using a plan manager is that they will take care of all the finance and administration part of your plan for you such as paying your providers for the supports you purchase, tracking your spending, taking care of financial reporting and they can also help you choose your providers.
NDIA (AGENCY) MANAGED
When your plan is managed by the NDIA (sometimes referred to as Agency-managed):
- You cannot use unregistered providers but you can choose your providers from the list of those registered with the NDIS.
- Your providers claim payment electronically from your funding.
- You can look on the myplace portal to see what claims providers are making against your NDIS funding and keep track of your budget.
- The NDIA will manage your book-keeping and records of your spend.
- Service bookings must be set up through the NDIS portal.
- All prices paid will be at the price guide rate so you can’t negotiate with providers and stretch your funds further.
As you can see there are pros and cons to all of the options, with self-managing give you the most flexibility and control. Your choice may come down to how comfortable you are with the financial and administrative aspects of self-managing, or perhaps you know in advance that your child will only use registered providers so you’re happy for the NDIA to manage your funds. Whatever option you end up choosing, you have the flexibility of reviewing your choices when your plan is renewed or reviewed.
Visit the NDIS website for more info: www.ndis.gov.au/participants/creating-your-plan/ways-manage-your-funding