In some instances, you may reach the end of your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan with some leftover NDIS funds. While this is not uncommon, you need to be aware that funds that are not spent cannot be rolled over into a new plan. In this article, we explore how can you efficiently manage your budget to avoid an underspend at the end of your NDIS plan.
What happens to leftover NDIS funds?
If you reach the end of your plan and have unused funds remaining, they sadly won’t roll over into your next plan; they will be returned to the NDIA. Therefore, it is really important to keep track of your funds throughout the year and adjust your spending as you go to ensure there aren’t any leftovers at the end. Whether you are funded again for the same kind of unspent supports depends on a range of factors and there is no rule of thumb for this.
Work out why do you have leftover NDIS funds
Ideally, the funding in your plan should be enough to cover for supports over the 12 months period. If you find you have money left over at the end of this period, you may want to look closer at why you have leftover funds.
The process of budgeting, keeping records and paying for supports outlined in your plan is called plan management. If your plan is managed effectively, then you shouldn’t have leftover NDIS funds.
However, having leftover NDIS funds is more common than you might think. The most common reasons include:
- Lack of confidence in how to use your funding
- Saving funds to the end in case of a rainy day
- Circumstances have changed and you didn’t need all the funding provided
- You’re unable to find providers for the services you need
- You may have been unwell or unable to complete therapies due to illness
- An item of high-cost assistive technology you had funding for was unavailable.
Tips to maximise your plan funding
1. Track your spending
It may go without saying, however keeping track of your spending is the best way to ensure you’re not underspending or overspending your NDIS funds. The important thing to know is how much you have left in each budget divided by the number of months left in your plan. This gives you a good idea of how much you have to spend each month. Our plan management app allows you to login at anytime to track your spending and see how much funding remains in each category.
2. Use a plan manager
More people are choosing plan management to manage their NDIS plan. Over 54% of NDIS participants currently use a plan manager.
3. Distribute your expenses across the year
While it’s always a good idea to “save some money for a rainy day”, the role of the NDIS is to help you cover the cost of services and supports related to your disability. Your NDIS budget should have enough to cover the cost of consumable items, therapies and other supports for the entire year. It’s helpful to allocate a portion of each budget category to things you know you’ll need, particularly for flexible funding such as Consumables. When you first get your plan, look back at the work you did when preparing for your plan meeting. Check the budget for each ongoing expense and divide it into 12 to give you an amount to plan for each month.
4. Allow plenty of time to purchase Capital supports
Some more expensive items may need more lead time, including high-cost assistive technology and home and vehicle modifications. If you have funding in your plan for these items, aim to get started early in your plan so you allow yourself enough time to source quotes, book installation or await delivery. Due to ongoing staff shortages and product delays, there could be a longer wait than usual.
5. Take advantage of your flexible Core supports
Core supports is the most flexible budget, meaning you may be able to use funds from one Core support category to make purchases under another. Depending on what your goals, you may choose to use this funding to support volunteering, work experience or learning a new skill.
What happens if I have leftover NDIS funds?
If you end your plan with an underspend, it won’t necessarily mean that funding in your next plan will be cut. The NDIA assures participants that each new plan will be carefully considered and the ‘new’ allocation will always be based on the reasonable and necessary needs of the participant and not based on how much you spent previously.
That being said, there are situations where people have had their next plan wrongly reduced because they haven’t accessed all of their funding. We want to ensure your funds are properly managed to avoid negative consequences down the track.
What can you do?
Contact your Acacia Plan Management plan manager to talk through your options and what you can do with your plan. They can’t make the decisions for you; you always have the choice and control. The main way you can keep your NDIS funding is to prove it is reasonable and necessary. Chase your providers for reports and letters of support and if you have a support coordinator, ask them to write a report or come to your review meeting.
Upon your annual plan review, it is a good idea to have explanations for why the total was not spent, rather than to spend any remaining balance at the last minute. If you were unaware of how that allocated money could be spent, had trouble accessing service providers or had periods of being unable to access services for health or other reasons, these will be taken into account and you should share this information.