Eligibility requirements for the Disability Pension - finder.com.au

Eligibility requirements for the Disability Pension

Learn about the Disability Support Pension rates you could be eligible for based on your circumstances.

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Disability Support Pension – also referred to as DSP – is a social security benefit offered through the Australian government’s Services Australia department and managed by Centrelink. It is an ongoing payment designed to offer financial support for people who have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops them from working.

You can use this guide to learn about the eligibility requirements, maximum payment rates and how to submit a claim for Disability Support Pension.

What are the eligibility requirements for Disability Support Pension?

There are both non-medical and medical requirements you need to meet before you can get Disability Support Pension, which we have outlined below.

Medical requirements

Not everyone with a disability is eligible for DSP. To get it, you need to meet either the manifest medical rules or general medical rules.

  • Manifest medical rules. A condition meets these rules if:
    • You are permanently blind
    • Need nursing-home-level care
    • Have a terminal illness with an average life expectancy of less than 2 years
    • Have an intellectual disability with an IQ of less than 70
    • Have category 4 HIV/AIDS
    • Receive a Department of Veteran Affairs special rate disability pension
  • General medical rules. If you don't meet the manifest medical rules, you may still be eligible for DSP if you meet all of the following medical requirements:
    • You have a condition that will last more than 2 years
    • The condition is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised
    • You have an impairment rating of 20 points or more, based on the government's impairment tables
    • Your condition will stop you working at least 15 hours a week in the next 2 years
    • If applicable, you have completed a Program of Support and meet those rules required to then receive DSP.

Non-medical requirements

  • Age: You must be between 16 years of age and Age Pension age. Read our guide to the Age Pension to see which Age Pension eligibility age applies to you.
  • Residency: You typically need to have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years in a row, or for at least 10 years with no break for at least 5 years in a row. This 10-year period does not apply for people who became unable to work or were permanently blinded while they were an Australian resident, or if they were born outside Australia to a parent who is an Australian resident. There are also exceptions for refugees and people who have lived or worked in a country that has a social services agreement with Australia – including Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.
  • Income and asset tests: You must meet the income and asset requirements, which are outlined in further detail below.

Did you now?

Services Australia will typically require a report from your doctor or specialist to verify the nature and severity of your impairment. A Job Capacity Assessment may also be required to determine whether you can return to work, how much work you can do and whether you need help finding and keeping employment.

Disability Support Pension income eligibility requirements

Your income will affect how much you receive, if any, for your Disability Support Pension. Check the table below to see at what level of income you are no longer eligible for the pension. These rates are correct as of June 2019 and may have changed very slightly since this date.

If you areYou won't receive any Disability Support Pension once you earn
21 or older and single$2062.60 per fortnight
21 or older, and a couple living together$3115.20 combined per fortnight
21 or older, and a couple living apart due to ill health$4085.20 combined per fortnight
18-20, single with no children and living at home$1072.60 per fortnight
16-17, single with no children and living at home$968.40 per fortnight
16-20, single with no children and NOT living at home$1393.40 per fortnight
18-20 and a couple with no children$2734.40 combined per fortnight
Under 18 and a couple with no children$2734.40 combined per fortnight
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Disability Pension rates

The disability pension rate varies depending on if you're single or married, and if you have children or not. The rates are updated on 20 March and 20 September each year. The below rates are up to date as of April 2020.

Disability pension rates if you're over 21 years old, or you're under 21 but have children.

Fortnightly pension paymentsSingleCouples, eachCouple combinedCouple each, separated due to ill health
Total payment$944.30$711.80$1,423.60$944.30
Maximum basic rate$860.60$648.70$1,297.40$860.60
Maximum pension supplement$69.60$52.50$105$69.60
Energy supplement$14.10$10.60$21.20$14.10

Disability pension rates if you're under 21 with no children.

Single, under 18 and at home$385.10
Single, under 18 and independent$594.40
Single, 18-20 years old and at home$436.50
Single, 18-20 years old and independent$594.49
If you have a partner and your 20 years old or less$594.40

How to apply for Disability Support Pension

You can submit an application online through your MyGov account, or by visiting a Centrelink office. Note that you will need to include documents and details about your condition or conditions so that the assessment officer can confirm you are eligible.

For more information, check out the Services Australia guide on what to consider before you apply for DSP.

How to manage Disability Support Pension payment

If you are receiving Disability Support Pension and your circumstances change, you will need to notify the Department of Human Services within 14 days. If you fail to do so, your payments may be affected and you may have to pay back overpaid benefits in the future. Examples of changes in circumstances include:

  • A change in your personal circumstances
  • If you move house and change your address
  • If the amount of income you earn changes
  • If your care arrangements change
  • If your work load changes
  • If you leave Australia

People who deliberately do not inform the department of any relevant changes may be charged with fraud, so it's vital that you get in touch with them as soon as possible.

It's also worth pointing out that Disability Support Pension recipients can still work up to 30 hours per week and receive a part pension, as long as they satisfy the income test. Recipients are also automatically entitled to a Pensioner Concession Card. This card can still be used for up to 12 months after your rising income reduces your Disability Support Pension payment to zero.

Your pension must be paid into an Australian bank account, usually in your name. If you don't yet have an Australian bank account you can open one online in minutes.

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Tap and pay with your NAB Visa Debit card or your phone using Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or NAB Pay for Android. Temporarily block your card at the touch of a button if you lose it.
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Travelling outside Australia

Disability Support Pension recipients should also take note that their pension might be affected while they are travelling outside Australia. If you head overseas temporarily, you will generally only be paid the pension for a period of up to four weeks in any 12-month period. However, your payment could continue for longer than four weeks in certain circumstances, such as if you’re studying outside of Australia as part of a full-time Australian course, or if you are severely disabled and dependent on a family member who has accepted a temporary work posting outside Australia.

It’s important to point out that if you keep being paid your pension for the whole time you are outside of Australia, your rate of payment may change at specific points in time.

However, if you leave Australia to live in another country you will not be paid Disability Support Pension except in certain circumstances. These circumstances include if you are terminally ill, or if you are severely disabled and your pension can be paid under an international social security arrangement Australia has in place with the country to which you are travelling.

Finally, if you are planning to travel outside of Australia for more than four weeks in any 12-month period, notify the Department of Human Services as soon as you have plans to travel, or at least six weeks before your departure. This is so there is sufficient time for a medical review to be organised (if necessary) to determine if you will still be eligible to receive your pension while overseas.

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70 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    MartaSeptember 5, 2019

    I note this question was asked in July 2018 but I cannot see an answer. I am wondering how much I can earn before affecting my partner’s eligibility for the disability support pension.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniSeptember 6, 2019Staff

      Hi Marta,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      If you and your partner, who is receiving DSP, are living together, you may have a combined income of up to $3,100.40. If you are solely working in your family then you may earn up to $3,100.40 without affecting your partner’s DSP.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    PensionerJanuary 30, 2019

    what’s the maximum value car you can own on disability pension?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJanuary 31, 2019

      Hi Pensioner,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      There is no ceiling on what car you can own while on Disability Pension. If you are going to loan a car, this will depend on the terms and conditions of the bank. You can find car loans that may approve you of a loan while on DSP from our list of pensioner car loans. On the page is a comparison table you can use to find the lender that suits you. When you are ready, press the ‘Go to site’ button to apply.

      Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and read through the details of the needed requirements as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision on whether it is right for you. You can also contact the provider if you have specific questions.

      Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    JimJanuary 21, 2019

    My 50 year old daughter recently entered into a relationship with a man on DSP through serious heart problems. She and her 12 year old daughter moved in with him and the immediate result was a reduction in his DSP. My daughter struggles to make her one-person business viable but Centrelink deems her income higher than it actually is and she and her partner are finding it impossible to make ends meet.
    I know that some time ago when one member of a couple went on DSP they both got it and if one was working the income was taken into account so a change must have taken place.
    Can you tell me if my daughter and her partner are being treated correctly.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJanuary 22, 2019

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for getting in touch! DSP is based on an income test for people in the household and if they are over the DSP limit income test then the amount they’re receiving now is what it entails. It would be best to contact the Department of Human Services to review both their eligibilities. Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.


    Default Gravatar
    robertSeptember 20, 2018

    How much can a person on a disability pension have in the bank to still be eligible for the pension?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezSeptember 20, 2018Staff

      Hello Robert,

      Thank you for your comment.

      One of the requirements to be eligible for the Disability Support Pension is meeting the income and assets tests. The amount of pension may depend on how much you earn and how much your assets are worth.

      Please visit the Department of Human Services that handles the Disability Support Pension to inquire about the amount to be eligible for the said pension.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.


    Default Gravatar
    Warren in SydneyJuly 24, 2018

    What is the maximum that my wife can earn, which still allows me to receive:
    a) disability benefits
    b) Newstart benefits
    Even if all I can receive is medical and PBS benefits, that is still worth a lot to us

    Default Gravatar
    MarathonJune 4, 2018

    How much hours I can work on disability pension, or how much money I can earn per fortnight?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJune 5, 2018

      Hi Marathon Man,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      While on a disability pension, you are not allowed to work for 15 hours or more per week at or earn above the minimum wage within the next 24 months.

      For any clarifications, feel free to message us again.


    Default Gravatar
    JaneOctober 15, 2017

    What are the assets limits for a disability pension?

      Default Gravatar
      LesleyMay 22, 2018

      I was diagnosed with stage ivb cancer in March 2015 which metastatized 2017…. I have bad neuropathy in both feet …I am on a widows allowance but not sure if I would qualify for a disability pension …

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMay 22, 2018

      Hi Lesley,

      We’ve read your message, Thanks!

      Sorry to hear this. We’re glad to know you’re okay.

      You may be qualified provided that you meet the above Disability Support Pension criteria. Services Australia has an online assessment that may help you check if you may be eligible. You can head to the link above to start the eligibility test. Just click the start button that you will see on the page. You can then contact the Department of Human Services to discuss claiming Disability Support Pension.

      You may be exempted from residency requirements since you are receiving a widow’s allowance. However, if you are on a Widow B allowance, you will be subject to an income test.

      Hope this was helpful.


      Default Gravatar
      ArnoldOctober 16, 2017

      Hi Jane,

      Thanks for your inquiry

      From 1 January 2017, the assets test free areas increased under a one-off adjustment as part of the measure to rebalance the assets test parameters. Regular indexation arrangements continued after this date.

      Starting 01/07/2017 The permissible income for disability pension is 4,368 (single) and 3,900 (couples)

      Hope this information helps


    Default Gravatar
    LauraSeptember 18, 2017

    I have MS and have applied for the dsp. I have had the job capacity assessment and got 30 points including 20 points on one table now I’m being sent for a disability medical assessment does that mean that I am going to be accepted or is this just another hurdle to go through before being rejected?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchSeptember 19, 2017Staff

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      I’m afraid we cannot say if you are already accepted or being rejected as your application is still in process or under review.

      I suggest inquiring with Australian government’s Department of Human Services to know the status of you application and you may check the eligibility requirements for Disability Support Pension on this page.

      Best regards,

    Default Gravatar
    StevenAugust 24, 2017

    Thank you for your cordial responses to everyone.
    I am a man in my late 20’s that suffers from extreme morbid obesity ( I’m currently 236 kg ) . I had to leave my job nearly 3 years ago because I couldn’t carry out general tasks that the job demanded. I was wondering whether I’d be eligible for DSP ? or Sickness Allowance ?

    Thank you

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchAugust 24, 2017Staff

      Hi Steven

      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      You may check the eligibility requirements for Disability Support Pension above this page.

      The Department of Human Services will typically require a report from your doctor or specialist to verify the nature and severity of your impairment. A Job Capacity Assessment may also be required to determine whether you can return to work, how much work you can do and whether you need help finding and keeping employment.

      Hope this information helped.

      Best regards,

    Default Gravatar
    KaesanAugust 1, 2017

    Hi im wondering if im suited for pension at all, i suffer sever anxiety i cant go out side without having panic attacks. I dont like being in crowds i cant handle my emotions i have split personailty disorder , i also have recently tried killing my self 5-6 times and my case manager knows about this she hasnt helped me invest in psychology shes reffering me back to work ..

    I havent eorked in ten years no one is employeing me i barely leave my house because im acared to i suffer ptsd ontop of everything else im also a sever depression i was wondering what i have to do to get accepted for the pension new start allowance isnt wprking out for me i recently tried committing my self not to long ago and my job provider is rushing me back into work with not mental health benefits of any support iam not ready to work. I panic if im even out of home for about 30 mintues.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezAugust 1, 2017Staff

      Hi Kaesan,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Per the eligibility basics for DSP, you must be:
      – at least 16 and under age pension age
      – have a permanent medical condition that prevents you from working 15 hours or more per week within the next 2 years
      – under the income and assets test limits

      Check if you’re eligible before you start your claim.


      – contact the department of Human Services to discuss claiming Disability Support Pension
      – read the conditions for claiming and watch the video
      – complete your forms
      – obtain medical evidence
      – complete the supporting documentation
      – submit your claim
      – they will then assess your claim and will let you know the outcome

      Hope this helps.


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