When choosing to self manage, you will receive funding from the NDIA so that you can select and pay for the services that will help you or your child meet your goals. This was summarised for us by a self managing participant as: "Buy it, pay it, claim it. Or claim it, buy it, pay it. Keep the bill and receipt. "
- not limited to using only NDIS registered providers - they can be mainstream or disability providers of any kind. This means that you have access to wider range of services and service providers. For example: You could employ your neighbour who your child knows well, to care for them in the afternoons (so long as they have an ABN, insurance etc).
- not tied to the NDIS Price Guide and can pay a provider whatever you like or whatever they demand. You have the ability to negotiate prices.
You will have to:
- Open a separate bank account that is only used for your NDIS funds. The name of the bank account should be in the participant's name or in your name if they are a child. It's best to look for a fee free bank account (like for students) as you cannot claim your bank fees against your NDIS funds. **TIP: Take the details of this account to your planning meeting if you have decided to self manage.
- Choose and organise your own providers.
- Book your own services and set up service agreements with all the your providers.
- Pay service providers. You will need to pay providers after their service and then claim the invoice on the NDIS portal. You should receive the funds back within 2 days. If you have a good relationship with your provider, you will be able to wait for the funds before you pay them. Some providers require payment on the spot and so you may be out of pocket until re-imbursed.
Tips from Participants on how to manage payments:
- Have a 'float' in your bank account that allows you to pay before claiming
- Have a credit card against your nominated bank account that you only use for NDIS services so that you can prepay. This also makes it easy to track payments. The card may also have benefits like frequent flyer etc.
- Manage your total plan budget. Be aware of how much you have spent and how much you have left.
- Keep records of purchase invoices and receipts for all your purchases.
Tip from Participants on how to keep related info:
- Create an email address that is only for NDIS related services
- Have a folder on your Google Drive where you store invoices, receipts etc.
- Link the supports you purchase to the goals in your NDIS plan.
You will need to be able to answer the question of 'Is this a disability-related expense? I.e would I buy it if I did not have a disability. Does it cover the 'reasonable and necessary' requirements of the NDIA.
You can have help Self Managing
You can ask your planner or LAC for help to self manage using:
- support coordination hours
- bookkeeping and accounting services**
- employment services**
- software applications**
- peer support organisations.
*** You can claim this from your Core Funding. See the NDIS Support Catalogue (page 6) for item called Self Management Capacity Building. You can claim $63.23/hour.
Advantages of Self Managing
- Not restricted to only NDIS registered providers so can use existing providers. This gives you the flexibility to hire whoever you want. Side note: A participant said: "We’ve been NDIA managed up til now but all our therapists have dropped their registration because it costs too much. To access their services I have to be self managed."
- You can be mroe innovative in what you spend your funding on.
- Participants in rural/remote areas have more provider options available to them.
- Not restricted to NDIS price guide prices so you negotiate rates or can pay higher rates where necessary.
- You can employ your own support staff directly. You can get help setting this up.
Disadvantages of Self Managing
- Not restricted to NDIS price guide so providers can demand more than the NDIS rate.
- Need to have the capacity and time to engage with providers, pay invoices etc.
- Need to keep records and receipts in case of audit
Every Participant has the right to a Plan Manager should they choose to be Plan Managed. The funds for a Plan Manager are specific and do not take away from any other area of funding in your plan. The NDIS will pay your Plan Manager, who will directly pay for all supports you have asked them to manage.
Choosing Plan Management offers some of the same advantages as Self Management, namely:
Like Self Managing, you are:
- not limited to using only NDIS registered providers - just like self managing, they can be mainstream or disability providers of any kind. For example where you might regularly use a therapist who is a sole trader, a cleaner or even a carer who does not want to go through the process of NDIS registration. You can continue to use them.
Your Plan Manager will:
- Pay all your bills - you can send them to your Plan Manager when you receive them or service providers can send the bills directly to the Plan Manager for payment.
- Send you monthly statements to help you track your plan spending.
- Reimburse you for anything you need to pay upfront.
- Some Plan Managers will help you with establishing service agreements with providers.
Advantages of Plan Managing
- Not restricted to only NDIS registered providers so can use existing providers. This gives you flexibility to hire whoever you want.
- No need to worry about paying providers, your Plan Manager does that for you.
- No need to keep receipts and invoices in case of audit.
- A great Plan Manager will help you get the best value from your allocated NDIS funds and will make sure that you don't run out of funds unexpectedly.
- You don't need to use the NDIS Portal.
- Using a Plan Manager is a great stepping stone to learning to self manage.
Disadvantages of Plan Managing
- If you choose a provider who charges above the NDIS Price Guide, you will need to pay the difference yourself because plan managers have to stick to the price guide.
- Like any other service provider/service, you may engage a Plan Manager who provides a poor service: is slow to pay invoices, unresponsive to your needs and unhelpful. So, as with any other NDIS providers that you engage, look for recommendations or meet with prospective plan managers before choosing a plan manager.
In summary, the key differences between Self Management and Plan Management are:
- Plan Managers need to stick to the NDIS price guide and Self Managers can pay any price.
- Plan Managers take care of paying invoices/providers and claiming funds back from the NDIA. You need not do any paperwork. Self Managers do it all themselves.
- Both options allow you to choose providers that are not NDIS registered.
- Both options offer far more flexibility and greater value for money than being NDIA Agency managed.
Agency Managed or Combination
On a final note, when the NDIA manages your plan, the NDIS will directly pay your support providers for you. You have to choose registered NDIS providers if the NDIA manages your plan.
You don't have to choose one option for the whole plan (for example you may want to agency manage your core funding so that you can use agency support workers but you may want to self-manage your capacity building budget so that you can choose therapists who may not be registered providers). Alternatively, there are some services that can only be Agency managed like behavioural supports.