The NDIS Travel Allowance Rules Explained

The NDIS travel allowance rules are complex, often causing confusion for providers and participants. ShiftCare demystify NDIS transport funding.

Payments for NDIS travel are a common source of confusion for both participants and providers of NDIS services and supports. In this article, we explain NDIS travel allowance rules, with some tips to help NDIS providers accurately monitor, claim and invoice for your NDIS travel expenses.

NDIS transport funding categories

Under the NDIS, travel expense rules fall under two main categories: provider travel and participant transport.

The NDIS travel allowance for providers

Provider travel refers to the travel involved in delivering services and supports to NDIS participants, such as that of support workers travelling to participants homes for shifts. Provider travel expenses can be further broken down into two categories:

Labour costs

Funding for labour costs is designed to cover the time it takes providers to get to (and sometimes from) the place where they deliver support. These costs are based on the same hourly rate as the support being provided. For example, if you charge $60/hour for a support service, the same rate applies to the travel to provide that service. Providers can also choose to charge a lower rate for travel by agreement with the participant.

The NDIS uses seven zones based on population and location to determine pricing for provider travel labour costs. Zone one denotes major cities and zone seven remote and very remote areas, with other zones falling between the two.

The maximum travel time providers can claim for each support or service session is:

  • Zones 1-3: 30 minutes

  • Zones 4-5: 60 minutes

  • Zones 6-7: as agreed with the participant, up to the hourly rate for the support item.

Providers delivering Capacity Building supports may be able to claim for time spent travelling from seeing their final participant to their usual workplace, but providers of supports funded under Core budgets can only claim one way.

If a support worker transports or accompanies a participant to an activity, their travel time can be charged at the relevant hourly rate for the support item (provided the participant agrees).

If two or more participants go on the same trip, the worker needs to claim the appropriate group rate.

Non-labour costs

Non labour costs refer to expenses incurred when travelling to provide supports, such as tolls, mileage and parking fees. If the NDIS participant’s support budget includes transport funding and the participant has approved the costs in advance, the NDIS will pay a per-kilometre amount for provider transport.

Currently, provided all travel allowance rules are met (see more below) the NDIS will fund:

  • up to $0.85 per kilometre for a vehicle that hasn’t been modified for accessibility

  • up to $2.40 per kilometre for a vehicle modified for accessibility (or a bus)

  • the full amount for other forms of transport and associated costs such as road tolls and parking.

If a participant’s NDIS plan does not include transport funding, provider travel costs may be charged to the participant as an out-of-pocket expense.

If a worker provides services to more than one participant in an area – and each participant agrees in advance – travel costs can be split (apportioned) between the participants.

NDIS transport funding for participants

Transport funding in NDIS plans is about assisting participants to access their communities and to maintain or increase their independence. Participant transport funding also falls under two categories.

General transport

This refers to situations where participants are transported from one location to another, where the person providing the transport does not have to continue providing support on arrival (although they may). Examples include:

  • A support worker driving a participant to work, a training facility or sport

  • A participant catching a bus, taxi or Uber to an activity.

Participants taking public transport may be able to claim the costs from their NDIS Transport budget (funding category 2).

Activity-based transport

This type of transport refers to situations when the person providing the transport will also support the participant at the destination. Activity-based transport (ABT) funding covers the cost of transporting the participant.

Providers may charge for ABT if they are delivering support under the following categories:

  • Assistance with Social and Community Participation

  • Support Coordination

  • Improved Living Arrangements

  • Increased Social and Community Participation

  • Finding and Keeping a Job

  • Improved Relationships

  • Improved Learning.

Participant transport assistance funding levels

If a participant’s disability makes using public transport significantly difficult, they will usually be able to access NDIS funding for transport assistance. Three levels of support for transport assistance are available, determined by a participant’s personal situation and work and study commitments.

Level 1 – for participants who are not working, studying or attending day programs but want to increase their community access, the NDIS will provide up to $1,606 per year in transport funding.

Level 2 – for participants who are working or studying part-time (up to 15 hours per week), participating in day programs, and for other social, recreational or leisure activities, the NDIS will provide up to $2,472 per year for transport.

Level 3 – for participants who are currently working, looking for work, or studying for at least 15 hours per week, the NDIS will provide up to $3,456 per year for transport.

Under exceptional circumstances, a participant may receive more transport funding if they have either general or funded supports in their plan to enable participation in employment.

These funds can only be used to pay a transport provider to drive a participant to an appointment or activity. Funding does not cover the costs of informal supports (such as friends and family members) driving participants, nor is it intended to cover petrol or other expenses incurred during a trip.

NDIS travel expense rules – what you can and can’t claim

For NDIS service providers, the NDIA has strict rules about travel costs. Here are the conditions you must meet to claim travel costs from a participant’s NDIS plan:

  • You must be eligible under the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits to claim travel costs for the support item.

  • Your claim must comply with pricing set in the guide.

  • You must explain to the participant why paying the provider for travel is good use of NDIS funds.

  • The participant must agree in advance for you to claim travel costs.

  • The activity you are claiming for must relate to delivering a specific disability support to the participant.

  • The support must be delivered in person.

  • You can only claim travel time if you are a sole trader, or if you have to pay a worker for their travel time.

  • Stay up to date with information about NDIS travel expenses rules on the NDIS transport funding page.

Invoicing tips to help you avoid any errors

To help ensure your travel expense claims are accepted and paid in a timely manner, it’s important to invoice correctly. Your invoice needs to clearly identity the support item, labour costs and non-labour costs associated with each occasion of service delivery. This means your invoice may have three separate costs for one support session.

For example, imagine a support worker travels 20 minutes to see a participant in zone two. On the way, they incur a road toll of $7.50. They deliver three hours of support at an agreed rate of $55 per hour before going to see the next participant. The provider is charging the same hourly rate for travel as for the support item.

The invoice must cover:

  • Support item costs – $165 for three hours of support ($55 x 3)

  • Provider travel (labour costs) – $18.33 for the 20 minutes of travel (20/60 x $55)

  • Provider travel (non-labour costs) – $7.50 for the toll.

ShiftCare’s web-based and mobile apps provide an easy way to help ensure you invoice accurately. With our time and attendance tracking, your team members can effortlessly clock on and off from their mobile devices, creating an accurate record of shift times. Plus, workers can log their expenses and mileage directly in-app, speeding up the approvals process and invoice generation.

ShiftCare also automatically allocates current NDIS pricing when you roster your team members’ shifts. So long as you keep the app updated, you can be confident you’re always billing the right amount. Our NDIS compliant invoices can be automatically generated and uploaded to the NDIS in bulk, reducing the risk of errors while cutting admin time up to 90%.

Check out ShiftCare’s web and mobile app to see how they can help your business with NDIS travel expense management.

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