NDIS: 500 fraud cases being investigated
PEOPLE with disabilities are waiting up to nine months for reviews of their National Disability Insurance Scheme plans, it has been revealed.
The finding by the Commonwealth Ombudsman has prompted 20 recommendations for the agency overseeing the NDIS.
And The Australian reports more than 500 allegations of potentially fraudulent payments and "financial anomalies" are being assessed by managers of the $22 billion scheme.
That is higher than the 300 allegations reported last year.
The agency admitted to the ombudsman in February it had more than 8000 reviews on hand and was receiving around 620 new review requests each week.
"The NDIS has acknowledged some reviews are taking up to nine months to be completed," the ombudsman said in the report, released yesterday.
A new national team set up in November 2017 to address the backlog has not been able to quickly work through the wait list.
The ombudsman's office received 400 complaints between July 2016 and January 2018 that were, at least in part, about reviews.
"Complaints to our office also highlight other systemic issues such as poor communication about review processes and outcomes," the ombudsman said.
Those who complained said when they requested a review they didn't receive an acknowledgment, so they were unsure whether it was going to happen. Others said when they tried to get an update on their review, their calls were not returned.
The ombudsman wants the NDIS agency to set up standard operating procedures so staff acknowledge review requests in a set time frame.
The scheme's agency has accepted all the recommendations and the ombudsman will monitor how it implements them over coming months.
Meanwhile, the NDIS is investigating more that 500 allegations into possibly fraudulent payments, according to The Australian.
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan admitted that checking every invoice and receipt for "financial anomalies" would prove difficult.
"The issue then is you get tied up in basically the red tape of administering the invoicing," Mr Tehan told Sydney talkback station 2GB.
"When it comes to the rollout of the NDIS, we are aware that sadly, even though the scheme is to help those who need it most, there will be some people who seek to exploit it.
"But we are aware of it and we will be doing what we can."