Your questions answered - managing your plan and participant information

My family has multiple plans to manage. Do you have any suggestions how to stay on top of it all? Should I set up separate bank account for each plan?

If you choose to self-manage all or part of your NDIS budget, it is strongly advised that you have a separate bank account just for your NDIS funds (your NDIS bank account). As each plan is different, it would be helpful to have a separate bank account for each plan. As an NDIS participant, the bank account must be opened in your name. If the participant is a child, the bank account should be in the child’s name and the child’s representative must be listed as a signatory to the child’s account. If the bank account is not able to be opened in the participant’s name, the account must be in the name of the nominee or child’s representative who is approved to self-manage the NDIS funding.

Ultimately it does come down to how your family finds it best to manage the financial transaction of each plan. For further information about managing supports in your plan, including the different ways to process transactions, making service bookings and using the myplace Participant Portal, visit the participant section of the website.

How does the NDIS figure out how much funding you get in your plan?

NDIS plans are tailored to each person’s individual needs so funding will vary, depending on the person’s support needs.

When you meet with an NDIS representative, to develop your plan, you will be asked about your current situation and what supports you receive, and how you manage everyday activities, like taking a shower or cooking your meals. This information helps to form the basis of your plan, working out your supports; how they are reasonable and necessary; how they link to your immediate needs, and how the NDIS can help you to work towards achieving your goals.

Once you complete the planning process you will receive an individualised funding amount, which you have choice and control over the supports you receive.

Visit the “My first plan” page on the NDIS website for more information.

What are the differences between being plan-managed and self-managed?

When we talk about managing a plan, we mean the way you manage the financial transactions involved with accessing supports as part of your plan. There are four ways to manage plan budgets:

  1. Self-managed budgets- Self-managing your plan means the NDIS will pay you directly for the supports you claim under your plan’s budgets. Being self-managed allows you to choose any provider, whether they are registered with the NDIS or not. Find out more about how self-managing your plan works in the self-managing your plan factsheet.
  2. Agency-managed budgets - 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.
  3. Plan Management - If it’s the best option for you, you may have funding for a Plan Management service provider included in your plan. In this situation, the NDIS will pay your Plan Manager, who will directly pay for all supports you have asked them to manage.
  4. Combination of the above three options can be used together. No matter which option you choose, you remain in control of which support providers you ultimately choose and engage.

For further information about managing supports in your plan, including making service bookings and using the myplace Participant Portal, visit the participants section of our website.

How common is it to experience a gap between the end of your first plan and the start of the new one?

A small number of NDIS participants may have a gap between their current plan’s start date and the previous plan’s end date.

If a participant is waiting for a plan review and their plan has expired, and if a support is in line with what a person was previously receiving in their plan, the NDIA will cover the expense.

The NDIA will extend the old plan to the day before the start of the next plan.

This will enable providers to receive payment under your old plan for services they may have provided during the gap period.

For more information see the Paying providers when there is a gap in-between plans factsheet (PDF).

I am self-managed. Do I need to pay invoices upfront and then claim for a reimbursement? How long does a reimbursement take?

As a self-managed participant, you can choose how you wish to pay your service provider’s invoices.

Some participants pay their invoice as soon as it comes through, and then request a payment (reimbursement) via the myplace participant portal.

Other participants may choose to request a payment through the myplace participant portal and once the money has been deposited into their nominated bank account, they pay their service provider.

It’s up to you.

It usually takes 24 hours for the payment request to be processed through the myplace participant portal and be deposited into your nominated bank account.

Find out more about self-managed plans in this factsheet (PDF).

Can you explain when a Local Area Coordinator would provide support to help me implement my plan and when the NDIA might fund either support connection or support coordination to help me implement my plan?

NDIS Partners in the Community are organisations who have partnered with the NDIA to deliver the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) services for children 0-6 and Local Area Coordination (LAC) for people aged 7 and over.

When a Partner is delivering LAC services is in place in an area, they will:

  • Be your contact for the NDIS
  • Link you to information and support in the community and mainstream services such as health and education
  • Work with their local community to make sure it is more welcoming and inclusive for people with disability.
  • Support to understand the Access process for the NDIS, and
  • For a majority of participants, LACs will work with you to develop your plan, and support you to implement your plan including how to use the portal, connect with funded supports and begin to access services, they will support you throughout your plan to monitor how your plan is going, and review your progress regularly.

Support Coordination is a capacity building support to implement all supports in a participant’s plan, including informal, mainstream, community and funded supports.

Support Coordination is included in a participant’s plan if it is reasonable and necessary for the individual.

Where there is no NDIS Partner LAC services in place, the NDIA may fund additional supports such as Support Coordination in your plan until LAC services come on board in your region. When the LAC services are in place it is expected a majority of participants will transition to work directly with LACs to connect to supports and review their plan.

LACs will provide a single point of contact for a majority of NDIS participants and help you to develop, implement and get the most out of your plan.

Does Centrelink’s Mobility Allowance cease once you receive transport-related funding from the NDIS?

Your NDIS plan will include any supports that the NDIS will fund, including any reasonable and necessary transport-related funded supports.

If you are receiving Mobility Allowance when you receive an approved NDIS plan, your eligibility for the Mobility Allowance payment ceases.

If you request a review because your initial plan is unsuitable, can you use the funds in that plan during the review process?

Yes. You can use the funds in your plan while your plan is being reviewed. When the plan review is complete and your new plan is approved you will no longer be able to use the funds in the “initial plan”.

A participant, or a participant’s plan nominee, may request that the NDIA conduct a review of their plan at any time. This generally occurs when a participant’s circumstances change and their plan no longer meets their needs, they wish to change their statement of goals and aspirations or they request a change to their plan management type.

You can find out more about Plan Reviews on our website.

Do I need a separate bank account to manage my NDIS package?

If you choose to self-manage all or part of your NDIS Budget, it is strongly advised that you have a separate bank account just for your NDIS funds (your NDIS bank account).

As an NDIS participant, the bank account must be opened in your name. If the participant is a child, the bank account should be in the child’s name and the child’s representative must be listed as a signatory to the child’s account. If the bank account is not able to be opened in the participant’s name, the account must be in the name of the nominee or child’s representative who is approved to self-manage the NDIS funding.

Would NDIS early intervention fund an iPad app? I already own an iPad. Our plan is all paid to the speech so there is no paperwork on my end.

Yes – if the app directly relates to your child’s support needs, and there is professional recommendation to evidence the app will be beneficial to support your child reaching his/her goals, the cost of an app can be funded by your ECEI plan. It is all about what is reasonable and necessary, which is why the NDIA requires evidence from an early childhood professional to ensure the app will assist your child’s functional outcomes. If you are unsure what is suitable, have a chat with your Early Childhood Partner.

Another thing to consider when purchasing something like an app is how you are managing your plan. If you have chosen for the Agency to manage your provider payments, the business where you purchase the app needs to be registered as a NDIS provider. There are a number of different ways you can manage your funding, including a mix of Agency-managed and self-managed. Find out more about options for managing your plan or again, bring this up with your Early Childhood Partner and find out what will be suit your needs.

What can you use core funding for? I haven’t used it yet and I don’t want respite

Core funding (or core budget) is allocated in your plan for everyday living activities and working towards your longer-term goals. It is made up of different categories of support such as:

  • Consumables (e.g. purchasing everyday use items such as continence aids)
  • Daily Activities (e.g. support with self-care activities during the day or evening)
  • Assistance with Social and Community Participation (e.g. supports to enable you to engage in social or recreational activities)

As your day-to-day living activities and long-term goals are very specific to you, your core budget is the most flexible part in your funding. What you use your core budget for can look different for everyone. However it is important to remember that this part of your budget is centred on everyday living activities and long-term goals, so how you decide to use this funding must align with your goals. There is more information on understanding your plan and supports, as well as downloadable resources on managing the different parts of your budget on the NDIS website. You can also find out more about NDIS plans in the “Your plan, your budget” video (external link).

I’m considering self-managing my sons’ NDIS plan. What are the advantages of this?

Self-managing your NDIS plan means you can choose and arrange your own supports, including your own support workers.

You can make sure relevant invoices are paid on time and keep appropriate records and receipts for supports provided (claimed and paid), via the myplace Participant Portal. You may also be asked to report to the NDIA on the amount used and funds spent on the self-managed items in your NDIS plan. Self-managing gives you choice and control over the people you pay to support you.

The advantages of self-managing are that you have more flexibility, choice, control, and freedom to choose any provider, regardless of whether they are NDIS registered or not as long as they relate to the goals outlined in your plan.

To learn more about building your self-management skills, view the Self-Management Capacity Buidling document.

Watch the video below for more information.

I've heard the paperwork is an ordeal for some to claim NDIS. Can you please offer some helpful tips so we can prepare?

Before you become an NDIS participant, you will need to fill out an access request form and provide relevant supporting documents. It can be a bit of work, but we need to ensure that we have a complete picture of your situation so that you get the right supports.

Once you are an NDIS participant, the amount of paperwork depends on how you want to manage your plan.

There are four ways that plans can be managed.

  • Agency managed: this is where the providers claim directly from the NDIA. This means that most of the paperwork is handled for you.
  • Plan manager: your funding is allocated to a third party to manage your plan’s financial transactions. You have a helping hand for some of the paperwork, but you are still responsible for the administration of your plan.
  • Selfmanaged: This option has the most paperwork, but provides the most flexibility. You directly manage the funds and are responsible for all transactions. You may choose to employ support staff directly and do all the financial transactions or pay an organisation of your choice to do this on your behalf.
  • Combination: a combination of the above three options can be used together. For further information about managing supports in your plan, including making service bookings and using the myplace Participant Portal, visit the participants section of our website.

What happens if you use up all your funds?

When your NDIS plan is developed, your funding is designed for the life of the plan. As a part of NDIS’s commitment to choice and control (PDF 256KB), you are ultimately in control of how and when your funds are spent in line with what is reasonable and necessary for your goals. However if there is a situation where you notice that your plan funding is not going to last the life of the plan, the best thing to do is get in contact with your Local Area Coordinator or planner. You can request a plan review and submit a change in circumstance form, which will also help us to reassess your situation.

We are self-managed for my sons plan is it compulsory to tell his OT or speech therapist that we are funded through NDIS?

No, it is not compulsory to tell your provider if you are funded through the NDIS. However, it would be a good idea to share your son’s plan goals with professionals who are working with him in order for NDIA to measure his outcomes when it comes around to plan review.

Is it okay for a planner to push to observe your child in the preschool setting?

It is always your choice in how your Early Childhood Partner works with your child. The reason why we would want to see your child in their preschool setting is to ensure we get the most accurate understanding of your child’s needs. Observing a child in their natural setting is considered Early Childhood best practice.

The Early Childhood Partner needs to work with your family as a team to understand the developmental areas of concern for your child. From this, the Early Childhood Partner can develop strategies based on the philosophy of family-centred practice. This all assists the Early Childhood Partner to tailor the early childhood supports to meet your child’s specific needs.

In the end, it is up to you in how you feel comfortable with your Early Childhood Partner works with you and your family. Find out more about the Early Childhood Approach

Question: Are self-managed participants required to adhere to working condition requirements of a particular award?

There is no single award that applies to providers or their staff under the NDIS. As a reference point, the NDIA generally refers to the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (external link).

When you self-manage your NDIS plan and directly engage your own staff, you have the same legal and regulatory obligations as an employer, such as:

  • Workplace relations
  • Taxation
  • Superannuation
  • Insurance
  • Work health and safety

You can find details on these responsibilities, and how to go about meeting them in the Directly Engaging My Own Staff Factsheet.

To help you manage these responsibilities, you should refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman website (external link), and seek help from an accountant or financial advisor so that you know you are paying wages, super and tax correctly.

You will also need to consider insurance and work health and safety requirements, which are outlined at Safe Work Australia (external link).

You can submit questions through our weekly Q & A posts on the Facebook page (external) or through twitter #ndisqanda.

Question: What is the difference between plan managed and self-managed?

How a budget is managed determines how the supports within that budget will be paid for. Generally, there are three ways that plans can be managed:

  1. Self-managed budgets
    Self-managing your plan means the NDIS will pay you directly for the supports you claim under your plan’s budgets. You can self-manage all or some of the budgets in your plan. Find out more about how self-managing your plan works in the self-managing your plan factsheet available for download on this page of our website.
  2. 2. Agency-managed budgets
    When the NDIA manages your plan, the NDIS will directly pay your support providers for you. You have to choose registered NDIS providers if your plan is managed by the NDIA.
  3. Plan Management
    If it’s the best option for you, you may have funding for a Plan Management service provider included in your plan. In this situation, the NDIS will pay your Plan Manager who will directly pay for all supports they have been asked to manage.

No matter which option you choose, you remain in control of which support providers you ultimately choose and engage.

Question: I self-manage my child’s plan and I’ve found a physio I’d really like them to see but she’s not a registered NDIS provider.

When you self-manage your plan, you can employ and pay for any service you like – the provider doesn’t have to be registered with the NDIS. That means you can employ the physiotherapist that you and your child like, even if they’re not a registered NDIS provider.

Self-managing your plan means you’re in charge of the day-to-day organisation of your NDIS plan, what you spend your support budgets on, and how much you spend at a time. It gives you a lot of flexibility and control. With this flexibility comes a significant responsibility to maintain appropriate records and receipts for supports provided, claimed and paid.

You can find a lot of detail about self-managing an NDIS plan, including the kinds of responsibilities you take on when you self-manage, at this self-managing budgets page of our website.

Question: If my review has been rejected what can I do?

If you have requested an internal review of a decision and disagree with the result, you can take the matter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). You have to submit your application within 28 days of receiving the decision from the NDIA.

On this NDIS Applicants (external link) page of the AAT website, you can find more information on:

  • What decisions the AAT can review
  • How to apply for a review
  • How the AAT will conduct the review.

We also answered a question about how the AAT works in last week’s QandA, so you might want to take a look at that.

Question: Can I be a nominee for my sibling who is an NDIS participant? Do my parents also have to be nominees?

This depends on a number of factors including your sibling’s age and wishes.

Participants over the age of 18 generally decide what supports they need and how they use them. In some circumstances the NDIS Act says that another person can be appointed as the participant’s ‘nominee’ either by request of the participant, or if the NDIA identifies the need (See Section 7 of the Nominee Rules).

The process of deciding about nominees is about what is in the best interest of the participant, and this is unique for each person.

The NDIA is responsible for deciding who should be appointed as a nominee, and more than one person can be appointed a plan nominee (Section 5.6.2. of the Nominee Rules). Most participants will probably have informal supports in place helping them make decisions, or making those decisions on their behalf.

The NDIA takes these existing networks into account when deciding who should be appointed as a participant’s nominee. The NDIA will also recognise that there might be options available to help the participant build the ability to make their own decisions.

There are several things the NDIA has to consider when deciding who should be appointed as a participant’s nominee. Some of them are:

  • The participant’s wishes
  • The existing relationship between the participant and the proposed nominee
  • Any existing guardianship or other relevant agreements
  • The proposed nominee’s ability to undertake the role of nominee, including working with the participant’s formal and informal supports for the participant’s best interests.

You can read more about the decision-making process around plan nominees in Section 5 of the Nominee Rules.

You can read the section of the NDIS Act about Nominees (external).

Question: I’ve requested a review of my plan but haven’t heard anything. What do I do?

If it’s been a while since you submitted your Change of circumstance form or Internal Review of a Decision request, you can

  • Call us on 1800 800 110 to ask for an update on the status of your review.
  • Submit an enquiry through this Contact Form
  • Submit feedback on our website.

Question: Can I use my NDIS funding to purchase items online?

Yes, if you self-manage your NDIS plan, and the item has been approved in your plan.

If you self-manage, you will need to get an invoice from the place you have purchased the item, and supply a copy of this invoice when you make a claim with the NDIA.

For more information on this, see the Self-Managing Your Plan guidelines available for download on our Self-Managing Budgets page. In particular the following sections may be useful:

  • 1.5 – Purchasing goods and services
  • 1.7 – Self-managing process
  • 1.8 – How do I claim a payment from the NDIA?

If you don’t self-manage all of your plan or the budget within your plan that covers the item you want to purchase, then the item will need to be supplied by a registered NDIS Provider.

Question: If I live in public housing, do I need to advise the Department of Housing if I am an NDIS participant?

You don’t need to tell your local department of housing that you are an NDIS participant for them to assess whether you’re eligible for public housing or not.

NDIS supports are dedicated to your disability support needs, so they are not considered ‘assessable income’ by state and territory public housing departments.

When you are applying for public housing, or if your circumstances change, a housing department might ask if you have a disability so that they can try to accommodate any additional requirements like home modifications, ground floor or lift access, or support workers.

They may also ask if you have a disability to help with planning more accessible social housing for the future, but you don’t have to disclose that you have a disability or that you are a NDIS participant.

For more information, you should see your state or territory government’s public housing website.

SLES can help with

  • Time management
  • Taking instructions
  • Handling money
  • Getting transport to work

For more information, see the SLES page of our website.

Question: What do I do if I’m having difficulties uploading files to the participant portal?

We know the portal isn’t perfect, and we’re working really hard to make it better. You’ll start to see gradual improvements over the coming months, and we appreciate your feedback and patience.

The truth is, there are a bunch of reasons that this could be happening, such as:

  • The browser you’re using isn’t ideal for using the portal. See the Participant Portal User Guide for a list of the browsers we recommend
  • There are a lot of people on the portal at the same time
  • The portal itself is having a bit of a moment for some other reason
  • The document is really large
  • Factors to do with your internet connection. For example, if the bandwidth is under a bit of strain at the time – with multiple users on your connection – it might have issues

You can give the following a go to get it working:

  • Log out, give it 10 - 30 minutes and have another go
  • Quit and restart your internet browser or try another browser
  • Disconnect and reconnect to your internet connection
  • Turn your computer off and on again
  • Compress the file you’re trying to upload

If these don’t work, we suggest giving the call centre a ring on 1800 800 110 to try to troubleshoot the issue over the phone.

Question: If you are self-managing and need to pay bills, do you pay and it gets reimbursed to you? Or do you request payment and then it goes into the allocated bank account and you pay it that way?

Either of these options can work, and it is important to keep your service provider in the loop on which option you choose, so that they know when to expect payment.

You can only make a claim for payment once you’ve received an invoice or receipt from the provider you have chosen to use.

Once you have the invoice, you then have two options:

  • you can make the payment and then claim reimbursement of the funds from the NDIA. The money will be deposited in your nominated bank account.
  • You can claim the expense first – the money should be in your account within 48 hours, depending which bank you use – and then use those funds to pay the invoice.

For more information on this, see the Self-Managing budgets in your plan guidelines available for download on our website.