The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a significant government reform that provides individualized support for Australians with disabilities. One aspect of the NDIS that can be confused is the establishment fee. This article will explain what the NDIS establishment fee is, who needs to pay it, how much it costs, and why it’s charged.
What is the NDIS Establishment Fee?
The NDIS establishment fee is a one-off payment that participants need to make when first joining the scheme. It contributes to the administrative costs of setting up a new NDIS plan.
The establishment fee is separate from any other NDIS fees. It’s a requirement for all new participants, except for those transferring from existing state/territory disability support programs.
Who Needs to Pay the Establishment Fee?
The establishment fee applies to all new NDIS participants meeting access requirements. This includes:
- Participants aged 7-65 years
- Participants on permanent visas or Protected Special Category visas
- Participants who are not transferring from an existing state/territory program
Children under seven and adults over 65 do not have to pay the establishment fee. There are also some other exceptions, like if the participant is receiving statutory compensation.
How Much Does the Establishment Fee Cost?
The current NDIS establishment fee is $100 for participants aged 7-18. For adults aged 19 and over, the fee is $200.
These fees are indexed each year in line with the Consumer Price Index. They may increase slightly year-to-year with inflation.
The fee is the same regardless of the individual’s disability or level of support required in their NDIS plan.
Why is the Establishment Fee Charged?
When someone first joins the NDIS, there are administrative steps to set up their participation and tailored support. This process has associated costs, including:
- Verifying eligibility and registration into the scheme
- Developing an individual plan based on assessments
- Setting up agreements with service providers
- Establishing payment systems for providers
The establishment fee helps cover some of these initial fixed costs per participant. This reduces the burden on general NDIS funding, allowing more to go towards direct disability support.
Having participants pay also promotes personal responsibility, fairness, and long-term sustainability of the scheme. Otherwise, non-participants could subsidise the administrative costs.
When and How Do You Pay the Establishment Fee?
Participants will receive an invoice for the establishment fee early in the planning process. This is usually after their initial plan approval but before it’s activated.
There are a few options to pay the establishment fee:
- Online via credit card, debit card or PayPal.
- Over the phone through a credit card.
- In person at an NDIS office using cash, cheque or money order.
- By mail via cheque or money order.
The fee will need to be paid before the NDIS plan is implemented. Services and supports can only start once the first payment invoice is issued and the fee is settled.
If facing financial hardship, participants can contact the NDIS about alternate payment arrangements or waiving the fee.
Getting Support to Understand the Fee
The establishment fee may raise questions for new participants as they transition into the scheme. Support coordinators and LAC partners can help explain the purpose of the fee, payment options, and how to budget for it in your first plan.
You can also speak directly with an NDIS planner or the NDIS contact centre if you need clarification. It’s essential to understand any costs involved in accessing the benefits and services provided under your plan.
Knowing what to expect with the establishment fee removes some uncertainty during the initial access process. While it contributes to operating costs, the fee ultimately helps sustain the NDIS to support participants for many years.
The NDIS establishment fee may seem like an extra cost for new participants, but it serves an essential purpose. By contributing to the administrative expenses of setting up new plans, it helps make the scheme more sustainable in the long run. Understanding what the establishment fee covers, who needs to pay it, and how much it costs removes some confusion participants can initially face. While joining the NDIS involves this one-off fee, the benefits and supports it provides makes the scheme invaluable for Australians with disability. Paying the establishment fee is a small investment towards gaining access to an individualised plan that facilitates greater independence, community involvement and quality of life.