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Disability Support Pension Australia

  • Synopsis: Last Revised/Updated: 2015-03-01 - Information on Centrelink disability benefits in Australia which is means tested unless blind.

Social Security, in Australia, refers to a system of social welfare payments provided by Commonwealth Government of Australia. These payments are administered by a Government body named Centrelink. In Australia, most benefits are subject to a means test.

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a payment for those aged between 16 and Age Pension age with reduced participation capacity due to a physical, intellectual, or psychiatric condition. DSP payment rates, indexation methodology and means testing arrangements are the same as the Age Pension. The DSP is an important part of the income support system for people whose disability means they are unable to undertake substantive work. It is the second largest income support payment in terms of expenditure.

To qualify for DSP a person must be 16 years or over and be under Age Pension age at the time of claim (Australian Government, 2013) and:

Centrelink is an Australian Government Statutory Agency, assisting people to become self-sufficient and supporting those in need.

All Centrelink Income support payments are payable fortnightly, usually by direct deposit into the recipient's bank account. They are also subject to a means test which calculates the recipient (and their partner's) fortnightly income and assets and affects the rate of their payment accordingly. As such, people on lower incomes may be entitled to part-payment of their allowance (subject to other qualification requirements). The assessment of income and assets is very similar between different social security payments but the effect that income and assets have on each payment differs in that they have different income thresholds (ie how much income one can earn before it affects their payment) and different taper rates (the amount the payment drops by per dollar above these thresholds).

Disability Support Pension:

Provides income support for people who suffer a long-term disability, which in the opinion of an assessor they will not recover from in the next two years, and which will render themselves unable to work or participate in a training activity enabling them to work.

It is more than you get on Newstart, and is income and assets-tested. However, if you are permanently blind, you can receive DSP without income and assets tests, and without needing to prove any inability to work, etc. DSP can take a while to process, so as a temporary measure claimants are placed on another payment (e.g. Newstart with a medical certificate to cover the activity tests) while the payment is being assessed; once granted it is backdated to the claim date at the higher DSP rate.

Disability Support Pension (means-tested unless blind):

Aged 16 to 65 (men) or aged 16 to 61 (women). A minimum 20% impairment level and an inability to work for at least 30 hours a week at full wages, or the inability to be retrained for such work for at least the next 2 years due to a physical or mental impairment or permanent blindness. Must be resident in the country.

If the incapacity began before becoming an Australian resident, the same minimum residence requirements apply as for the old-age pension; there is no minimum residence requirement for an Australian resident with an impairment.

The pension is payable abroad under specific circumstances but may be reduced. An agreement effective October 1, 2002, between the United States and Australia improves Social Security protection for people who spend part of their working life in both countries. It helps many people who, without the agreement, would not be eligible for monthly retirement, disability or survivors benefits under the Social Security system of one or both countries. It also helps people who would otherwise have to pay contributions to both countries on the same earnings.

Mobility allowance (not means-tested):

Paid to a disabled person aged 16 or older who cannot use public transportation without substantial assistance.

Carer payment (means-tested): Paid to the provider of constant care at home for a recipient of social security or veteran's income support who has a physical or mental impairment (including a profoundly disabled child); or for two disabled children or more.

Permanent Disability Benefits:

The Disability pension is (means-tested unless blind): For single people younger than age 18 and living away from the family home, up to A$408.60 every 2 weeks; A$264.40 if living in the family home. For single people aged 18 to 20 and living away from the family home, up to A$408.60 every 2 weeks; A$299.80 if living in the family home. Single disability pensioners younger than age 21 are eligible for the youth disability supplement of A$90.10 every 2 weeks, which is included in the rates of the disability pension payable to pensioners younger than age 21.

Quick Facts: DSP Assessment

Thousands of Australians on the disability support pension (DSP) will soon have their ability to work reassessed under welfare changes to be introduced in the budget. The Treasurer's office has confirmed thousands of people under the age of 35 will be assessed by independent doctors appointed by the Government. News Corp is reporting almost 30,000 will be reassessed...

Statistics: Disability Support Pension

The numbers of people receiving the DSP have grown substantially over the last 20 years. DSP expenditure is currently $15.8 billion and is projected to increase at 1.5 per cent in real terms over the forward estimates.

Due partly to the correlation between disability rates and age, DSP expenditure is expected to increase as a proportion of GDP from around 0.9 per cent currently to 1 per cent by 2050.

Latest Australian Disability Pension Publications

1 : Australian Disability Insurance Plan : Australian Labor.

2 : Centrelink Payments to Families in Australia : Disabled World.

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