Why people aren't using their NDIS funding

A surprising amount of NDIS funding goes unspent - around 30% of it according to the 2017-2018 federal budget.

In this blog, we look at some of the reasons why, and in doing so, shine a light on some of the problems people are having with the fledgling scheme.

Before we start though, it should be noted that this is an incredibly complex topic, and this is in no way an exhaustive list.

‘The services don’t exist in my area’

People may receive funding for supports, but that doesn’t always mean those supports are available in their area. It’s heartbreaking to hear of people who receive life-changing funding from the NDIS, only to realise that the service does not exist near them.

This is something that has been raised before and becomes especially prevalent outside the major city centres. If you live in a rural area and would like some tips, make sure you check out our blog ‘Living rurally under the NDIS.’

‘It’s taking a while to find the right service’

Choosing a service provider can be a huge decision and sometimes finding the right service for you can take a long time. We’ve heard of it taking years for people to find what’s right for them. It’s worth noting that if you plan to shop around, you can receive support while you do this. Most NDIS providers only need you to give two weeks’ notice if you intend to leave the service. This was designed so that people can exercise their choice and control at any stage of their NDIS journey.

‘Appropriate, affordable transport wasn’t available, so I couldn’t get to the service’

Yep - this one is rough.

We often hear of people who have funding in their NDIS package for something, but are unable to use that funding because there is not appropriate, affordable transport available for them to get there.

Again, this is something that is more prevalent outside the major city centres.

Transport is a hot topic in NDIS land, and we would hope that in five years this will no longer be the issue it is today. It’s something that we are very passionate about, and are looking into solutions– stay tuned!

‘I don’t understand my plan’

The NDIS is very different and immensely complicated compared to previous funding models. So, if you don’t fully understand your plan, you are not alone. Often it’s the people who understand the scheme the least that need the most support.

Perhaps you weren’t sure what your funding could actually be used for? If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not understand something, make sure you speak up. It could make all the difference. You can call the NDIS on 1800 800 110.

‘My circumstances changed so the plan no longer meets my needs’

An NDIS plan is, as the name suggests, just a plan. Everyone knows that things don’t always go to plan and that circumstances can change.

You may find yourself in a situation where your needs change and the plan that was approved no longer meets those needs. This is ok!

If your circumstances change and you need more support or different support, make sure you call NDIS on 1800 800 110 as soon as you can. A plan review will be required and sometimes this process can take a while, so it’s good to get the ball rolling straight away.

‘I didn’t realise I had a plan’

Yes, this happens and it’s more common than you would think. There are quite a few reasons why people may not realise that they actually had an NDIS plan. Here are some of those:

  • Our letterboxes are brimming with letters, and many of them are unimportant. Often your plan will arrive through the mail and it can be surprisingly easy to miss.
  • Maybe your details have changed and they sent it to your old address? It’s important to make sure that your contact details are always up to date with the NDIA.
  • A lot of people also don’t realise that once the plan is sent to them, the ball is in their court. With choice and control comes responsibility. Many have spent their whole lives being told what supports they can access and who will provide them. Under the NDIS, you are in the position of power, which means that you have to take action. Once your NDIS plan is out, your old funding stops. It’s crucial that you let service providers know you have a plan so that you can make the most of your NDIS funding straight away.
  • Many people may have trouble with understanding what the NDIA is sending them. If you know someone may need help please let the NDIA know as soon as possible.

If I don’t spend all of my funding, does that mean I won’t get it in my next plan?

No, not at all. During your plan review, many NDIS Planners will be concerned that you didn’t spend your funding so be prepared to explain your reasons. Your NDIS Planner can then factor in additional supports to help you maximise your plan. Plans are not based on what you spent last year, it’s about what’s reasonable and necessary.

Does my unspent NDIS funds roll over?

No, it does not. After every plan review you will receive a new plan outlining supports and funds for the next period of time. While you have the choice and control to spend your funds strategically throughout the year, you cannot roll over unspent money.

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