What are the impacts of overspending and/or underspending an NDIS plan budget?
KW – Overspending – puts the participant at risk of exhausting their funding before the plan ends; the Agency may start to state items, which we have seen before; creates anxiety for participants, knowing the funding won’t last the plan duration.
Underspending – in some instances the NDIS may reduce the funding, however we have seen in a lot of cases recently it has shown the plan is sufficient and the participants have been offered a plan roll over with the same funding allocated for a further 12 month period – without the need for a plan review. This doesn’t occur for all participants. Underspending may also impact you achieving your NDIS goals without the correct implementation of the plan.
DB – If a budget is overspent, the participant can be met with a surprise. Surprises are highly distressing when it comes to finance and disruptions to funding or activities can lead to apathy of engagement, service distrust and an overall decrease in wellbeing.
If a budget is not managed and is overspent, it can lead to significant mental and emotional distress. Participants can be left feeling anxious, insecure, out of control, abandoned and with a sense of hopelessness for the future.
Participants have expressed fears that underspending may indicate that they may not need supports, whereas it could indicate that there are other barriers at play, or the right supports haven’t been found yet. It can be difficult to find services that have the right skills, values, and expertise to work with people with psychosocial disability.
EH – When looking at over and underspending you need to consider the two things very differently.
Overspending is dangerous – this should only be done in consultation with the NDIS, where there is a need and you are in the process of getting updated reports and justification. Typically, overspending should not occur, except in cases where the participant’s safety is at risk.
Underspending can occur for a number of reasons – most of the time the support can be justified, however the participant themselves doesn’t wish to access the support. The other time underspending regularly happens is when supports are not available.
In the event supports are not available, support coordinators should be working to access other supports while the participant is on wait lists – e.g., accessing occupational therapy or telehealth support while waiting for speech therapy (if appropriate).
As a support coordinator, keep an eye on both these situations – justification for why a plan is under or overspent – especially where a support coordinator is involved – Is important, and should be included in a support coordination report. Regular communication with the NDIS, especially in an overspend situation, is important.
ZD – The impact of overspending an NDIS plan budget is that the participant may be left with no funding to continue their support services until they receive their new plan, after their plan review date. As you can imagine, this can be absolutely devastating for participants, especially those that require a large amount of care and cannot fend for themselves on any level.
This can be avoided if the participants have a competent support coordinator who recognises beforehand that the participant’s funds are getting low – obviously requiring more funding in certain areas of their plan – and conducting an early review if the plan is within 100 days out from their plan review date, or a plan reassessment if the plan is further out than 100 days.
The impact of a participant underspending their NDIS plan budget is that they will lose that funding after their plan review date. This can also be avoided with a competent support coordinator, who keeps an eye on the participant’s budget, makes the participant aware of this, and encourages the participant to start using that part of their plan.