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NDIS service providers still frustrated by 'clunky, painful' online system

Disability service providers are still being burdened with payment delays and hours more of administration each week, more than three months since the disastrous launch of the new online portal for the NDIS. 

Canberra organisations, including at least one which was forced to use an overdraft during the clogged rollout, have criticised the continued problems, saying the new system was far less reliable than the one it replaced. 

Just Better Care Canberra general manager Rob Woolley said his company was probably owed about $100,000 across all claims since the end of June, and he was aware of many companies that had been squeezed. 

"There are still bugs in the system, we are still not being paid correctly, we are receiving wrong rates, etc." he said.

"One week it's looking OK, the next it falls apart." 

Mr Woolley said the company had dipped into its overdraft for the first time in eight years in recent months, and there had been no noticeable recent improvement in his company's experience of the myplace portal. 

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Social Services Minister Christian Porter promised to establish an independent complaints and serious incidents system in early September, aimed at speeding up help to those with a disability. This followed a PwC report which found the roll-out was underprepared, under-resourced and went ahead with its key architects knowing there were risks of serious problems.

Carers ACT chief executive Dee McGrath said the not-for-profit had lost about 30 clients after July 1 who were looking to start up an NDIS plan but went elsewhere due to the delays. The biggest impact for the organisation was the extra administration time for her hard-working staff. 

"We're afraid to measure it because it's massive, hundreds of hours of admin time, time to liaise, then the National Disability Insurance Agency would say we're putting info incorrectly to the portal, but that wasn't the case," she said. 

Fairfax Media has spoken to a number of community service providers who continued to deliver services to their disabled clients despite not getting paid for a month or more.

Community Options executive director Brian Corley said his organisation, which claimed about $250,000-$300,000 each month from the NDIS, was now successfully having claims approved, but the process was "very clunky" and "heavily resource-intensive". 

"It is working better now than in July, but it's a slow and painful process," he said. 

The company had employed the equivalent of one full-time worker since July to manage the extra administration, despite no notable increase in client numbers.

A spokeswoman for Mr Porter said the average payment success rate for claims in the first four weeks of September was 96.7 per cent, up from 70 per cent for several weeks in July. 

All service providers complimented the NDIA  staff, saying they were working hard but being held back by the IT problems.

Nearly 30,000 people have been deemed eligible for the scheme nationally since July 1.