A participant’s plan will only cease to be in effect if:
- it is replaced by another plan after a plan review process; or
- the participant ceases to be a participant.
A plan, however, may otherwise cease to operate for the benefit of the participant. If a statement of participant supports in the plan is suspended, the plan remains in effect but during the period of suspension the person is not entitled:
- to be paid NDIS amounts as they relate to reasonable and necessary supports that would otherwise have been funded; or
- to make a request for review of the plan.
During this time, the Agency is not required to provide or fund other supports under the plan, but can do so if the Agency considers it appropriate. [s41]
A statement of participant supports can be suspended if the participant:
- fails to take certain actions in relation to obtaining compensation; or [s105(2)]
- a participant is absent from Australia after the grace period has expired.
A participant may be temporarily absent from Australia for the grace period without affecting the participant’s plan. [s40] The grace period is the length of:
- six weeks beginning when the participant leaves Australia; or
- if the Agency is satisfied that it is appropriate, a longer period decided on criteria established by the Rules.
[Part 5 Rules- Plan Management] establishes general criteria the Agency must have regard to when deciding whether, and by how much, to extend the grace period and also specific criteria to be considered when relevant. The general criteria to be applied for any participant who is temporarily absent for more than six weeks include:
- the proposed length of absence from Australia;
- any previous decisions that the grace period should be extended;
- the supports provided to the participant under their plan;
- the participant’s ability to continue to access supports while they are absent from Australia;
- the Agency’s ability to facilitate the provision of supports to, and maintain a relationship with, the participant while they are absent from Australia; and
- whether the refusal to extend the grace period would cause undue hardship to the participant.
Though the Agency is not compelled to extend the grace period in any particular instance, an expectation is created that a grace period would ordinarily be extended for humanitarian purposes or reasons that satisfy any of the specific criteria in [Part 5.9-5.16 Rules-Plan Management]. These include:
- Overseas Study
- Temporary Employment
- Reserve Forces
- Medical treatment or therapy
- Participant prevented from returning to Australia
Grace periods are relevant for temporary absences. A person’s absence from Australia is temporary if the person does not cease to reside in Australia within the meaning of the NDIS Residence requirements [s23(1)]. A permanent absence in the loss of citizenship or residence status would compromise ongoing requirements under the access criteria, and may lead to revocation of the person’s status as a participant.