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11 ways to stretch your NDIS funding

A woman in a wheelchair holds a ball above her head and a man stands alongside her.

As a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant, your plan funds are precious, and you want to make the most of every single dollar.

And – as Australia’s leading (and largest!) NDIS plan manager – we know the hacks to help you do just that. After all, we see hundreds of NDIS plans and invoices every day!

In this article, we give you some tips and tricks to remove unwanted costs – meaning you can maximise your plan funding and live your best life. Have a chat to your support coordinator or local area coordinator to see if they can help you to put some or all of these ideas into practice to help you:

  • remove extra expenses (like provider travel costs) – meaning you’ll have more funding to spend on supports
  • become aware of peak price periods when NDIS costs can get more expensive, which will help you plan better – or plan knowing you may pay more
  • avoid unexpected costs that can quickly add up

1. Consider local providers

Has a provider ever charged you for travel? Providers can charge a participant’s NDIS budget for the cost of travel when they:

  • spend time accompanying them out in the community
  • travel to them
  • incur travel costs, like parking and tolls

If a provider who comes to you – like a mobile physiotherapist – charges the maximum hourly rate under the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits, adding travel to that cost can quickly add up. That’s why it’s good to consider local providers if you can – and try negotiating a reduction (or elimination) of travel charges.

2. Request support sessions that are less frequent and longer

If there’s provider travel involved, then less frequent sessions that run longer in time can help to reduce unwanted travel costs.

For example, you could ask a provider to deliver 8 x 90 minute sessions instead of 12 x 60 minute sessions. Both options equal 12 hours of support, but the first removes four sets of travel expenses.

3. Avoid peak times when provider costs can be more expensive

Be aware there are different provider rates in the NDIS for weekdays, weekends and public holidays. That means it’s cheaper to see a provider during the week, rather than on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday.

4. Don’t let providers dictate your supports

Make sure your providers build a schedule of supports that meet your needs, rather than sending through a service agreement that utilises all your available funding.

If a provider asks to see your NDIS plan budget before sending you a service agreement – or if their service agreement equals the total value of a particular budget category – it’s worth digging a little deeper to understand what they’re recommending, and why.

Don’t forget, if you aren’t happy with a provider you’re using, you have every right to change.

5. Make sure the supports you need aren’t covered somewhere else – like under Medicare

Certain services, like rehabilitation and support after a recent medical or surgical event, sit under Medicare – Australia’s universal health care system.

Be sure to first check the support you need isn’t covered there or under a different mainstream service, which might save your NDIS funding.

6. Avoid the ‘NDIS tax’

We occasionally hear of providers charging more when they know a client is a participant in the NDIS. This could be because they see their client’s funding as ‘government money’ to stake a claim to, or they may think NDIS participants are less likely to shop around or negotiate a lower rate.

This practice is sometimes referred to as applying an ‘NDIS tax’ – and the good news is, you can avoid it. How? Negotiate and lock in a provider’s rates up front before telling them you’re an NDIS participant.

7. Ask to see an allied health assistant

Allied health assistants can provide supports under the guidance of an allied health professional at a lower cost and are often students accruing experience in their final year of study. Because of this, they often have the latest knowledge and training in their field.

If you see an allied health professional, you may want to ask if an allied health assistant can provide some or all of your supports at a lower rate to help your funds stretch further.

8. Ask providers about the range of services you can utilise within existing supports

If you have support workers to help you with daily living activities, be sure to know the range of services they can provide – like supporting you to maintain your garden, clean your home, do your washing, and prepare your meals.

This may mean you won’t have to spend your NDIS plan funding to pay a cleaner, a gardener or a meal delivery service.

9. Consider joining group sessions for community participation

Group sessions can provide a great way to get out and about in the community with like-minded peers – and you can often participate in a group where there’s a lower ratio of support (i.e. more participants per support worker).

By joining in a group activity with two other participants (1:3) instead of alone with a support worker (1:1), you can get supports at a third of the cost.

Have an open dialogue with providers about what supports you may be able to utilise in a group setting to help cut costs and still get the full value from activities.

10. Consider Coordinated Funding Proposals

If you’re reading this, you want maximum value from your NDIS budget. The problem is, a lot of providers charge the maximum price in the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits, leaving little space for competitive pricing. This is where Coordinated Funding Proposals (CFPs) can help.

CFPs let you form a group of people with the same or similar support needs and combine funding to:

  • strengthen buying power – where you may be able to buy supports at a lower price point by purchasing them as a group in higher volumes
  • share expenses, like provider travel and/or accommodation fees to help reduce costs
  • make it more rewarding and viable for specialist or high quality providers to service a remote community so you can see them locally

For more information about CFPs, click here.

11. Consider assistive technology to increase your independence

An allied health practitioner, like an occupational therapist, may recommend assistive technology to maintain your independence and decrease reliance on external supports.

From combi-reachers to walking frames, dressing sticks to portable clothes lines, there’s a seemingly endless range of assistive technology tools designed to support people with disability get the most out of life.

We’re here to help

At My Plan Manager, we see hundreds of NDIS plans and invoices every day and know how to cut unwanted costs.

If you have any questions about using your NDIS plan funding, email us at [email protected] or call us on 1800 861 272 from 8am-6pm (SA time), Monday to Friday.

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My Plan Manager acknowledges the objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

My Plan Manager acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to Elders both past and present.
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