Budgeting your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funds is a complicated process, but it is key to keeping your spending on track.
- Budgeting your NDIS plan can be stressful and many people worry they will run out of funding
- If it does look like your funding is getting low you can ask for the most up to date invoices from your providers, assess where your money is going and request a review if you need one
- In emergency cases the NDIA may approve extra funding for you, although it is more common you will have to rearrange your budget or pay for supports yourself
If you don’t keep an eye on your spending there is the risk that you run out of money early and you might not be able to continue your supports up until the date your next plan arrives.
Sometimes people get caught out with budgeting, for a number of reasons, and start to run out of funding too early.
This is a stressful situation to be in, so this article guides you through some ways you can manage your stress and get your plan back under control, as well as a few suggestions for how to avoid running out of funds.
It’s important to note that if you are agency managed you should never run out of funds because service bookings on the NDIS portal have to come under your budget, so the below suggestions are for people with plan managers or those who self-manage their plan.
Review and assess
The first step is to identify why it is that you’re running out of funds - does your plan have enough funding or not, do you know what your providers are charging, have any unexpected costs come up, or have your needs changed?
If the issue is with the plan itself and the original amount of funding you were given was not enough, or if your circumstances have changed and you need different supports, request a plan review through your Local Area Coordinator, or by contacting the NDIS on 1800 800 110.
If the issue is unexpected costs, check whether they were charged by a provider, for example for overtime or travel costs.
Review your service agreement with the provider to see whether it covers these expenses and talk to your provider about the arrangement so that you can understand the costs and include them in your budget.
You may need to reassess how you are using your funds to make sure they last until your next plan is ready.
If you are concerned and need to cut some services, prioritise what is most important to help you live safely first and what helps you to pursue your goals, then consider what supports you can receive less regularly.
There is flexibility in the Core supports budget in your plan, and those funds can be used across any of the Core support categories.
If you are running out in one category but have surplus in another you might be able to rearrange the funding to cover your shortfall.
However, if you receive periodic payments for transport that funding is not flexible.
Keep in mind the date of your plan review will not be the date your new plan starts as it will need to be approved first, so your funds need to last until after the plan review.
In some cases the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) might approve emergency funding for you until your plan can be reviewed.
However, the NDIA won’t usually approve more funding if you’ve run out of money because of the management of your plan.
Be aware that if you are self or plan managed and overspend you will owe the NDIA a debt for what you spent outside your NDIS budget.
If you do run out of funding, consider how your supports might be provided by other systems, like the health system.
For example, your GP might be able to refer you to a mental health service to fill the gap in your supports.
Consider if there are any community services that can help you - is there a community service that transports people in your area to appointments that can replace private transport or a volunteer organisation that can help you to do your shopping or access the community?
The final option is to consider whether you can afford to self-fund supports for a time.
There are a few things you can do to plan ahead and prevent yourself from the shock of running out of funds.
Some NDIS participants like to have a buffer of 5-10 percent of their funding set aside when starting their plan, for unexpected costs or to cover the time between the review and a new plan beginning.
Two months before your plan ends you can also request up to date invoices from your providers so you can budget your remaining funds and reassess whether your spending is on track.
If you have a plan manager they may have ways to track your spending - such as an app that shows how much of your plan you’ve spent and how the remaining funds will look until the end of your plan.
You still need to keep track of invoices and spending though, because sometimes providers can invoice a while after the service was provided, meaning you actually have less funds than what you appear to have.
Whether you are self managed or have a plan manager, or even whether you have a support coordinator or not, it is still your responsibility to make sure you are not overspending.
How do you keep track of your NDIS funds and spending? Tell us in the comments below.