Occasionally, you may reach the end of your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan with some funding remaining. While this is not uncommon, you need to be aware that funds that are not spent cannot be rolled over into a new plan. So what can you do instead? We’ve listed some ideas for what you can spend your leftover NDIS funds on.
Funding from the NDIS aims to help participants reach goals and increase independence
Having leftover funds in your NDIS plan is not uncommon and there can be a variety of reasons why this might be the case
There is some room for flexibility when it comes to your NDIS fund, meaning the money doesn’t have to go to waste
Using unspent funds in my NDIS plan
The NDIS will fund supports deemed ‘reasonable and necessary’ to help a participant reach their goals, participate in the community and increase their independence.
So when utilising your unspent funds in your NDIS plan, you will need to be able to prove later if a purchase was 'reasonable and necessary' for your particular needs.
Additionally, what you spend your leftover funds on needs to align with goals set out in your NDIS plan.
Each support category - Core, Capital, and Capacity Building - have differing flexibility on how you spend your funding.
To learn more about what the NDIS will and won’t fund, check out our article on the Disability Support Guide.
Different NDIS support packages
As you are likely already aware, funding in an NDIS plan is broken down into three different support packages, which are made up of support categories, each covering different areas of support. These support categories are:
Core - help with everyday living
Capital - equipment that can make life easier
Capacity Building - therapies and skills that improve independence
Your funds are fitted to align with the goals in your individual plan. You might be funded for supports that fall under all three support packages, or only one or two.
To ensure you have complete choice and control over your supports, there is flexibility when it comes to how you can spend your money within each package. However, you are not able to transfer money from one support group to another. Here are some tips on how to spend leftover NDIS funds you might have in any of the three categories.
Leftover NDIS funds in your Core support budget
Your Core budget is made up of supports that will help you go about your daily life while working towards your goals and objectives. It is split into four categories and funding is flexible across all categories. This is likely to be where you will be able to use most of your leftover funds.
The four categories in your Core support include:
Assistance with daily living
Assistance with social and community participation
Your needs for daily living are not likely to change, however, if you are wanting to change accommodation, then using some of your leftover NDIS funds to start this process can be a good idea. Your transport and consumable needs are also not likely to change.
In saying that though, if you haven’t spent your allocated funds in these categories then you may not be using your NDIS funds on all the things that are actually covered in these categories. If you had budgeted for a certain amount of funding in your transport costs, but then found a service closer to your living accommodation, then you are able to use those leftover funds on any of the other categories within Core support.
Social and community participation is likely where you will be able to spend most of your leftover NDIS funds.
Are there any social or recreational activities that you’d like to get more involved in? Any classes or community-based activities?
You could think about other activities you might like to try out and participate in such as art classes, library visits, sports, camps or other day trips that could include peer support or mentoring to strengthen your ability to participate in the community independently.
These activities can be a great way to use your leftover NDIS funds found in your Core support.
Leftover NDIS funds in your Capital support budget
Capital support funding provides money in your budget for things like assistive technology, modifications and Specialist Disability Accommodation. Any funds for aids and/or equipment you’re requesting for inclusion in your NDIS plan have to meet certain criteria. You're able to choose your own supplier when using your funding in the Capital support budget.
The categories in your Capital support include:
Specialist Disability Accommodation
You can only use funds for capital support for specific items you’ve already outlined in your plan. So if your plan includes funds under capital support for assistive hearing devices, you can’t then use those funds on a vehicle modification instead.
As you need to request money for these items in your planning meeting, there isn’t much wriggle room and there is unlikely to be leftover funds unless you haven’t purchased the items you have outlined or found cheaper alternatives.
Leftover NDIS funds in Capacity Building budget
Capacity Building supports can pay for therapies or services that help improve your independence. Funds can be used to purchase any approved individual support within a specific category.
Unlike your Core Supports budget, your Capacity Building supports budget cannot be moved from one support category to another. Funding can only be used to purchase approved individual supports that fall within that Capacity Building category, which include:
Improved living arrangements
Increased social & community participation
Finding and keeping a job
Improved health and wellbeing
Improved life choices
Improved daily living
You can use your Capacity Building funds to purchase any approved individual support within a specific category. For example, if you are allocated money under the Improved Daily Living budget, you may initially decide to use 50 percent of the funding on a career counsellor, 30 percent on an occupational therapist, and 20 percent on a podiatrist.
However, later on you may decide to assign a larger percentage to podiatry services or change from occupational therapy to speech therapy. This flexibility allows you to identify what you believe would be the best Capacity Building support to achieve your goal.
So while there isn’t as much flexibility as Core supports (where you can move between categories), you can use some of your leftover NDIS funds within each of these categories to lock in some extra sessions before your plan runs out.
Work out why do you have leftover NDIS funds
Ideally, the funding in your plan should be enough to cover for supports over the running time of your plan, most often this is 12 months. If you find you have money left over at the end of this period you may want to look closer as to why you have leftover funds.
The process of budgeting, keeping records and paying for supports outlined in your plan is called plan management. If your plan is managed effectively then you shouldn’t have a situation where there are leftover NDIS funds.
However, having leftover NDIS funds is more common than you might think. You can have leftovers in your NDIS plan for a whole range of reasons, including:
Being unaware of your maximum weekly spend
Uncertainty or fear of spending money on the ‘wrong thing’
What to do if you have underspent your NDIS funds
While a plan manager will look at participant’s spending, it’s a good idea to prepare some responses based on why the total wasn't spent, rather than trying to spend it all in a hurry before your next meeting.
Some possible explanations that might help you gather your thoughts include:
You had trouble finding a suitable service
Health issues impacted the delivery of your service - not being able to make appointments for example
Something unexpected came up that interrupted access to your NDIS plan
Your circumstances may have changed or life may have simply gotten in the way
You might not have been totally aware of what you could use each funding category for
If you aren’t aware of what allocated funds can be used for, had trouble accessing service providers or had periods of being unable to access services for health or other reasons, these will be taken into account and you should share this information with your plan manager.
You might also want to make a budget to bring to your plan review meeting, showing what you need to meet your needs when you have chosen the right provider for you.
Avoiding leftover NDIS funds next time
Your Local Area Coordinator or your plan manager can talk you through your options and what you can do with your plan, but they can’t make the decisions for you. You’re in control.
The main way you can keep your NDIS funding is to prove it remains reasonable and necessary – chase your providers for reports and letters of support and get your support coordinator to write a report or come to your review meeting.
At the end of the day it is important to remember that NDIS funding is all about you, so make it work for you. The flexibility of how you use your leftover funds depends on which categories you have leftovers in and why you have leftovers.
Have you ever had leftover NDIS funds, and if so what did you use them on? Let us know in the comments below.