So you’re in your planning meeting with the NDIS Planner or LAC and everything seems to be going well. You have spent some time talking about your participant statement and your goals and you seem to be getting your point across. Then the planner asks you one simple question…”So, how would you like to manage your plan?”. Deciding on the best option for managing your NDIS plan is an easy decision if you know the details.
There are three main options you can choose from: Agency managed, Plan managed or Self managed. Sit back while we give you the pros and cons of each and help to make your decision a little easier.
This option is probably the easiest option as it has the least for you as the participant to do.
Choosing ‘Agency Managed’ means that your funds are paid directly by the NDIS to the registered provider after services are delivered, without you having to do anything. The registered provider you choose claims the funds for their services directly through the NDIS portal by electronically billing NDIS for the services delivered.
You can check your Participant Portal to see when the funds have been paid and to keep track of the funding you have left.
This option offers the least choice and control as you can only choose registered providers, however, this ensures that your providers can not charge above the NDIS scheduled fee.
It is, however, a good option for people who don’t want the headache of keeping track of their invoices and receipts, opening a special bank account or resolving any billing issues that may arise.
This option has you in total control of your funds.
Choosing ‘Self Managed’ means that your funding effectively goes to you to spend as you choose to meet your goals. You can use any provider or mainstream support whether they are registered or not; they don’t even need to offer disability-specific services.
It is important to note, however, that no provider is obliged to charge the NDIS scheduled fee when providing services to self-managed clients; they can set their own fee schedule, even if this is well above the NDIS recommended fee.
Paying for your supports is easy. You either pay up front for services as you use them (out of your own pocket) and claim reimbursement through the portal against the receipts for service. Or ask your service provider to invoice you and then claim against that invoice on the portal. Reimbursement only takes a day or two and will be deposited into you ‘NDIS’ bank account.
This option also gives you the advantage that you could pay valued staff more if you chose to or you could negotiate cheaper rates with your providers and stretch your funding further.
A few things to be aware of though: you will need to open a separate bank account just for your NDIS funds and you will need to keep good records including invoices and receipts as you could be audited at any time.
This option has a lot of the benefits of Self Managing without the burden of paperwork.
Choosing ‘Plan Managed’ means that you are putting an external provider in charge of physically paying for your services. Your plan manager pays your invoices and makes claims against your funding on the portal meaning you don’t have to worry about a separate bank account, keeping your invoices and accounts or being audited.
The NDIS adds extra funding to your plan if you decide to Plan Manage, so paying for the service doesn’t eat into the funding for your supports.
There are a number of Plan Managers available to choose from – some are quite large companies who have been doing the role of ‘Financial Intermediary’ for many years under different funding systems, and some are smaller, newer businesses who have come on board with the roll-out of the NDIS. To offer Plan Management a business needs to have an accounting or book-keeping background and be a registered (and state-approved) plan management provider.
When choosing a Plan Manager it is important that they are open and transparent in their actions and it is a good idea to choose one that has a system that you can log in too and see all of your transactions at any time.
The one real disadvantage of Plan Management is that they may not process payments to your providers as fast as you would and some providers may get frustrated waiting for their payment. It would be a good idea to enquire about their turn around time before deciding to take on a Plan Manager.
You can find a plan manager in your area by going on the NDIS website and using the provider search function.
Mixing it up
You can also choose to use two or more of these options if that suits you best. For example, you may want to Self Manage the funding for your continence supplies so that you can shop around and get the best value, have your Support Coordination Agency Managed and choose Plan Management for the rest of your services. This is totally doable!
In fact, if at any time you wish to change the way your plan is managed you just need to call the NDIS and let them know.
Managing your plan and your funding really couldn’t be easier!