Plan Management: How Does It Work?
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Plan Management: How Does It Work?

Everybody that has a disability of some sort may need additional support to live their lives fully. In Australia, the NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, is an organisation that supports people with disabilities and provides a variety of benefits. This is where you get three different options on how you can manage your funding. We will go into this, and explain Plan Management and how it works with an individual’s NDIS plan.

The NDIS Management Options

Every individual has an NDIS plan that takes into account a variety of options. It’s important for the individual to create their own path by using the right type of management. This can take into account the individual’s goals in life as well as their support needs. This is where three different core management options come in.

Agency Managed

An agency managed plan is a plan managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which works with an NDIS registered provider to find the appropriate disability support

Self-Managed

A self-managed NDIS plan allows NDIS participants to look after their own funds and receive funding directly. One of the benefits of this is that the individual may not need to comply with NDIS cap rates.

Plan Managed

Classed as a “financial intermediary support,” this is where all Plan Managers are a connection between and NDIS participants, the providers, and the NDIA. Let’s dive into the subject in more detail.

What Is Plan Management?

Plan Management is a way to give the individual freedom over their NDIS budget, while also utilising the help of a Plan Manager. A Plan Manager can help an individual manage their funds, pay their bills, and keep an eye on their budget. Much like a financial advisor, they are the individual that provides invaluable insight. In addition, a Plan Manager can claim funds from the NDIS on behalf of the individual. For those on an NDIS plan, the NDIS adds extra funds to pay the NDIS Plan Manager. 

Plan Management is a way for an individual to have more control over their finances with invaluable support. A Plan Manager can receive invoices from a provider, pay invoices, while also providing monthly statements to the individual with a comprehensive breakdown of budget totals. Plan Management helps you to work with support providers that meet your needs, while also helping you to negotiate the right price for your budget. In addition, it gives you more freedom because someone else is doing the administrative tasks for you. 

Anybody that has experience with finances knows that it can be confusing and even overwhelming to lay out their money. A Plan Manager is someone that can do a lot to help the individual out. When funding is planned managed, one of the key benefits is that it doesn’t cost extra to have a Plan Manager in place as the NDIS provides the funding. Also, the individual is not restricted to NDIS support via registered NDIS providers, and they can also use non registered providers through planned management.

What Does a Plan Manager Do?

A Plan Manager has numerous responsibilities. They help people with disabilities on a wide variety of tasks, including the following. 

  • Keeping track of budget and funding. 
  • Providing the individual with funding updates. 
  • Paying support providers on behalf of the individual. 
  • Managing and monitoring bills and invoices. 
  • Providing a list of NDIS support providers.

The right Plan Manager can improve your NDIS plan. It is important to strengthen your NDIS plan, and a Plan Manager can provide invaluable advice with regards to establishing service agreements and can help you access services and providers of funding that you might not have been aware of. They can also help the individual build their self-management skills or become more aware of the processes and budgets of the NDIS.

How Does a Plan Manager Help You With Your NDIS Plan?

If you choose to be plan managed, you can reap the benefits of having a Plan Manager. Some of the benefits include the following:

  • They can help you get a partner to make the most of your NDIS. The NDIS process is crucial to establishing the funds that you need. A Plan Manager can help you get a partner to make the most of the NDIS process, so you can get everything you can from your NDIS plan. 
  • The NDIS plan is funded separately so you do not use money from other support, and there is no additional cost to pay.
  • It allows you to hire providers on your terms. There are unregistered providers out there who may deliver better service, and just because they have not registered with the NDIS does not mean they are as effective. Choosing a Plan Manager allows you more freedom. There is no need to handle lengthy and frustrating paperwork as the Plan Manager does it all.

What If I Want to Switch to Plan Management?

Every NDIS participant has the right to choose the right management option for their needs. Individuals who do not have a Plan Manager can switch to Plan Management by making a request during the annual planning meeting. In addition, a participant can request what is called a “Light Touch” review if they want to change their management option. But this is a review that can only be requested with small administrative matters. Prior to requesting a meeting to switch management options, it is essential to research Plan Managers in your local area. You could do this via the NDIS website which contains a list of registered Plan Managers in each region. From there, the individual may wish to get in touch with the providers and get more information, including:

  • How long it takes the Plan Manager to pay bills and invoices. 
  • The size of the team. 
  • If they have comprehensive information resources, such as an online portal.
  • If they are able to give you answers to your queries.

When looking for a Plan Manager, that last point is crucial. If they are not able to answer your queries, that should be a red flag that they are not able to meet your needs. The right Plan Manager is someone that will go above and beyond for you. They will also be impartial, so they do not influence your decision to choose providers. Because many providers offer a variety of services, you need to be sure you are choosing a Plan Manager that has your interests at heart.

When Do You Choose Your Plan Manager?

This occurs during a plan meeting or review meeting, where a planner and Local Area Coordinator (LAC) asks the participant or the nominee how they want their funds to be managed. Once the plan is approved, the individual can choose a specific provider of Plan Management.

Can a Plan Manager Support a Participant Coming up to a Review?

When an individual is building up to their light touch review, individuals can ask for a Plan Manager to support them. Participants can also have the option to have part of the plan managed by a Plan Manager, as this allows extra flexibility for the individual, such as reducing the administrative tasks, or saving more money. 

How Much Funding Does a Plan Manager Receive?

A Plan Manager is funded under what is called the “improved life choices” category, and as Plan Management is not considered a reasonable and necessary consideration, this is why it is not at the expense of the individual requiring the support. A Plan Manager funding consists of a setup fee every 12 months, a monthly processing fee, and occasionally, participants are funded for a number of “Plan Management activities” hours.

Is a Plan Manager the Best Option for Me?

Choosing a Plan Manager is ultimately the choice of the participant or the nominated individual. As you could see, a Plan Manager provides a multitude of benefits. It can work very effectively for someone who is currently in the process of going through Supported Independent Living, and they are learning how to manage their finances better. The Plan Manager can help someone to make the most of their money, like a financial advisor. Because a Plan Manager is an impartial individual, choosing the right one is crucial. 

A Plan Manager is someone that can make a difference in the participant’s life. It is someone that can be one part of a variety of services, such as support and home care, but when choosing a Plan Manager, it’s important to remember that they have to have the participant’s interests at heart. 

There will be times when a Plan Manager is not going to be beneficial, especially if the participant is choosing to be self-managed. But it is important to reiterate that an individual can have a combination of management plans, so in theory, they could have a combination of Self-Managed, Agency Managed, and Plan Managed. 

The input of a good Plan Manager is invaluable, as they can provide a solid foundation for the individual to learn more about how they can manage their NDIS funding. A solid Plan Manager can safeguards participants effectively, by providing a variety of resources. For this reason, Plan Management can be a great option for participants who are making the step towards independence.

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