Tips & Tricks To Managing Your NDIS Budget
If you are a participant in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), you have a lot of important choices to make to make the most of your NDIS plan. After your initial assessments are done and when your plan is approved, there is a corresponding budget that is allocated to different types of activities based on the type and severity of your disability.
Managing your NDIS budget is an ongoing task throughout your participation in the NDIS. While your plan will designate specific categories where funds can be utilised, there are choices to make about where, when, and how they are spent. Ensuring these choices align with your needs is key to optimising your budget.
Whether you’re just starting out with the NDIS or you’ve been a participant for a while, there are some useful strategies that you can implement to make sure your lifestyle goals are met. Making the right choices can mean the difference between getting the care and support you need or missing out on needed services.
What Can NDIS Funds Be Used For?
When you choose to spend NDIS funds, they have to be accounted for under a specific budgeted allowance. According to the NDIS website,
Participants choose and pay for supports and services out of an individually allocated budget based on their goals, and these fall under three categories:
- Core Supports – for daily living activities
- Capital – for investment such as equipment, technologies and modifications. This support can also include accommodation
- Capacity building – for building independence and skills
Depending on how your budget is allocated, it could include any of the following if it is considered
reasonable and necessary to help you pursue your goals:
- Assistance with Daily Life
- Assistance with Social & Community Participation
- Assistive Technology
- Home Modifications
- Coordination of Supports
- Improved Living Arrangements
- Increased Social and Community Participation
- Finding and Keeping a Job
- Improved Relationships
- Improved Health and Well-being
- Improved Learning
- Improved Life Choices
- Improved Daily Living
How Do I Manage My NDIS Budget?
There are three distinct ways you can manage your NDIS funding, or you can choose to use a combination of the three options. Options include:
Self managing your plan gives you the flexibility and choice to manage your funding and find the supports that will best help you to live more independently. You can employ your own staff and negotiate costs that best suit you.
The NDIS has provided a guide to outline the benefits of self management and how to do it effectively. You can also speak to your LAC or NDIA planner if you wish to go down this route.
This option means the NDIS will provide the funding to pay for an independent Plan Manager who keeps track of your funds, takes care of all financial reporting, and pays the providers for you. They can help you with financial and plan management, oversee the budget, increase your choice of providers, and teach you how to self-manage.
The NDIS has provided a guide to help you understand what to expect from plan management and the roles and responsibilities they take on. If you want to go down this route, inform the NDIS staff at your planning meeting that you would like to be supported by a plan manager. Maple Community Services can help you find the right Plan Manager for you.
This option is sometimes referred to as Agency-managed and will enable you to choose from a range of NDIS registered providers such as Maple Community Services who will claim payment electronically from your funding. The NDIA will take on the book keeping and records of your spending for you, though your choice of service providers will be limited to those registered with the NDIA.
How Do You Maximise NDIS Funding?
The best way to maximise your NDIS budget is to make use of all of the funds it provides for you on activities, services, and supports that contribute to your pursuit of your goals. Having excess funds in some categories with too little to spend on other areas can be a major source of frustration, so it’s important to properly allocate your available budget and evaluate how your services are meeting your needs on a regular basis.
If you are concerned that the funds available to you do not properly align with the goals you have set, you can always request a Plan Review from the NDIS and communicate how your needs have changed from the time your NDIS plan was initially put into place.
Optimal plan management is another effective strategy to maximise your NDIS funds. While this can be done through a self-managed plan, having an experienced professional such as a Plan Manager can take on the burden of budgeting and negotiating the price of services so you don’t have to.
What Can I Spend Core Supports On?
Core supports is one of the main categories of support funded by the NDIS. These can include any of the following services:
- Community Participation – Engaging in activities in the greater community
- Personal Activities – Daily routines, exercise, visiting family, or taking a class
- Travel and Transport – Getting from Point A to Point B when other options are unsuitable
- Household Tasks – Cleaning, cooking, gardening, or maintenance
- Development – Life Skills – Learning the skills to become more independent
While this list is not exhaustive, funding for Core Supports should be able to be classified under one of these groupings. Get in touch with us at Maple to figure out how your plan can be best utilised to meet your needs. Our team of experienced support workers can craft a menu of services that will take your plan and budget into account, and most importantly, help you reach your goals.