So you’ve thought about having your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funds plan managed but you’re unsure if it’s the right choice for you? Here are some key questions you need to ask yourself and discuss at your planning meeting before switching.
If you want flexibility but aren’t confident in handling budgets, then engaging a plan manager may suit you
Plan managers can help you manage your NDIS budget more effectively, however it's important you choose the right one for your needs
It’s important to consider all your options before switching your NDIS budget to a plan manager
Why should I switch to a plan manager?
Don’t want the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to manage your plan but don’t feel comfortable taking on the responsibility of self-management? Having a plan manager gives you complete choice and control to use both NDIS registered and non-registered providers, while someone else helps manage your money.
Depending on who you choose as a plan manager, they may provide other accompanying services or “skill building” options. These benefits include the set up of service agreements with providers, perspective on budgeting options, assistance on building your own financial literacy around the NDIS, and potentially developing your own skills at self-managing your NDIS fund.
Your plan manager will provide regular reports and statements to you directly and keep track of how much money is left in your budget. When a plan manager has identified overspend or underspend, the plan manager should advise you as soon as possible, regardless of reporting frequency. Depending on which plan management provider you choose, they may have an app or other platform where you can track your NDIS budget against your current spending.
What are the pros and cons of a plan manager?
There are a range of benefits to having your NDIS funds plan-managed. These include:
Freedom to choose any service provider you like
No personal financial accountability
You don’t have to keep track of paperwork or open a special bank account
A plan manager may be able to help you negotiate a cheaper price, enabling you to potentially get more out of your budget funds
You have a partner to help you navigate the NDIS
A plan manager will ensure providers are invoicing in line with the NDIS price guide
The freedom and advantages of self-management without having to worry about administrative tasks
Certain plan management providers might offer their own technology such as apps and trackers so you can view your budgets whenever you’d like
There are also some disadvantages to keep in mind when considering a plan manager. These include:
Another person to meet with regularly
The billing process may take longer
Could take some time to find a plan manager you are happy with
What does a plan manager need to do?
If you choose to use one, a plan manager must make sure your service providers:
Charge you the right amount
Are paid on time
It’s important that you receive an invoice every time your plan manager pays a service provider with your NDIS funding. An invoice will include a list of services that need to be paid for, as well as the amount that needs to be paid. Invoices help plan managers ensure you use your NDIS funding in the right way.
How does this help me?
If you choose to use a plan manager, they will then take these invoices and provide you with an invoice. Your plan manager must give you a statement at least once a month. The report should cover:
How you used your NDIS funding
How much NDIS funding you have left
If you are spending your NDIS funding too fast or too slow
A plan manager will also give you a report that will help you get ready for your next planning meeting. This makes it easier for you to manage and keep track of your NDIS funds.
What should I discuss with a plan manager?
There are many questions you might want to ask a potential plan manager before you decide to work with them. Some questions to ask include:
Will you talk me through my plan?
Do I have to provide approval before you pay invoices that come to you?
Am I the decision-maker with what you will and won’t pay or are you?
Do you have an app or some way that I can view and keep track of my budget?
Can you help guide me on making decisions about what I can/can’t claim?
How often will you update me on my budget statements?
Can you meet my accessibility needs?
Will you pay above NDIS rates?
How quickly do you pay?
Asking these questions are an important process when deciding on a plan manager and determining if they are right for your needs.
What if I’m unhappy with a plan manager?
Right from the start your chosen plan manager needs to tell you how you can provide feedback if you're not entirely happy with their services and the process of how to make a complaint. If you aren’t pleased with your plan manager’s decisions, you should talk to them directly about it. When you give feedback you are letting your plan manager know what they are doing well and what they can do better.
When something has gone wrong, or isn’t working well, you also have the option of making a complaint. First, you should talk to your provider about the problems you are having before taking the complaint further. All NDIS providers have a complaint and resolution system and this can be one of the quickest ways to have any issues resolved straight away.
However, if your provider doesn’t handle the complaint to your satisfaction, you can contact the NDIA or an advocacy service. You can find an advocacy service in your area by using the Disability Support Guide directory. Putting in a complaint with the NDIA is a relatively simple process as they have a complaint form on their website.
The NDIA will acknowledge your complaint within a day and let you know about the progress of your complaint. If you are unhappy with the result of the complaint, you can request an internal review of the complaint or get an independent agency to take it further.
How to change your plan manager?
You can change your plan manager at any time during your plan. It’s essential you notify your plan manager before the date you plan to change. Your service agreement will state how much time you need to give your plan manager before you change. Both your plan manager and yourself should agree on the date when you will change. If you decide to change your plan manager, they must give you a report that shows how you used your NDIS funding and how much NDIS funding you have left.
Are you ready to start using a plan manager?
Plan managers can offer you the freedom of control and choice without the responsibility of self-managing. They can also help you make the most of your funding and also allow you to use the support of non-NDIS registered providers.
However, before you switch to a plan manager you should weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of having one and consider this against your own situation. It’s also useful to understand how a plan manager can help you, as well as learning how you can provide feedback and change plan managers.
What would you need to consider before changing to a plan manager? Let us know in the comments below!