Eligibility requirements for the Disability Pension

Image: The Australian

Image: The Australian

You’ll need to meet age and disability requirements in order to qualify for Disability Support Pension.

Disability Support Pension is a social security benefit offered through the Australian government’s Department of Human Services.

This ongoing payment is designed to offer financial support for people who suffer from a physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that prevents them from working. It also offers support to people who are permanently blind.

However, it’s important to note that in order to qualify for Disability Support Pension, you will need to satisfy certain requirements.

What are the eligibility requirements for Disability Support Pension?

To qualify for Disability Support Pension you will need to:

    • 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.
    • Meet the residence requirements

Please note that finder.com.au is not affiliated with the Department of Human Services or Centrelink. If you would like an indication of pension rates, please visit the official Centrelink website.

  • Meet the income and assets tests. For example, under the income test, couples over the age of 21 who earn more than $292 per fortnight, combined, will have their payment reduced by 50 cents for every dollar they earn over $292.

And

  • Be permanently blind, or
  • Be assessed and deemed to have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment

And

  • Be unable to work, or be unable to be retrained to return to the workforce, for 15 hours or more per week at or above the minimum wage within the next 24 months

And

  • Have actively participated in a Program of Support, which is designed to help you overcome any barriers to employment.
Did you now?

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.

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How do I manage my payments?

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.

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Disability Pension rates

The disability pension rates for those under the age of 21, with no children, are adjusted on 1 January each year. For people over the age of 21, or under 21 and with children the rates are adjusted on 20 March and 20 September each year.

Disability pension rates for over 21s, or under 21s with children.
Fortnightly pension paymentsSingleCouples, eachCouple combinedCouple each, separated due to ill health
Total payment$877.10$661.20$1,322.40$877.10
Maximum basic rate$797.90$601.50$2,103$797.90
Maximum pension supplement$65.10$49.10$98.20$65.10
Energy supplement$14.10$10.60$21.20$14.10

These are up to date as of January 1 2017.

Disability pension rates for under 21s with no children.
StatusPayment
Single, under 18 and at home$364.20
Single, under 18 and independent$562.20
Single, 18-20 years old and at home$412.80
Single, 18-20 years old and independent$562.20
Member of a couple, under 21 years old$562.20

These are for prior to March 1, 2017, but may be subject to change after.

Let your pension earn interest in a high interest savings account

Rates last updated August 20th, 2017
$
$
months
Name Product Maximum Variable Rate p.a. Standard Variable Rate p.a. Bonus Interest p.a. Fees Min Bal / Min Deposit Interest Earned Product Description
ME Online Savings Account
2.95%
1.30%
1.65%
$0
$0 / $0
Ongoing, variable 2.95% p.a. rate when you link to a ME Everyday Transaction account and make a weekly purchase with your Debit Mastercard using tap & go. Available on balances up to $250,000.
ANZ Online Saver
2.55%
1.00%
1.55%
$0
$0 / $0
Introductory rate of 2.55% p.a. for 3 months, reverting to 1.00% p.a. Available on the entire balance.
Citibank Online Saver
2.85%
1.70%
1.15%
$0
$0 / $0
Introductory rate of 2.85% p.a. for 4 months, reverting to a rate of 1.70% p.a. Available on balances below $500,000.
Westpac eSaver
2.51%
1.00%
1.51%
$0
$0 / $0
Introductory rate of 2.51% p.a. for 5 months, reverting to a rate of 1.00% p.a. Available on the entire balance.
ANZ Progress Saver
1.81%
0.01%
1.80%
$0
$10 / $10
Ongoing, variable 1.81% p.a. when you deposit $10+ each month and make no withdrawals. Available on the entire balance.
HSBC Serious Saver
3.00%
1.60%
1.40%
$0
$0 / $0
Introductory rate of 3.00% p.a. for 4 months, reverting to a rate of 1.60% p.a. Available on balances below $1,000,000.
Bank of Melbourne Incentive Saver
1.75%
0.01%
1.74%
$0
$1 / $1
Ongoing, variable 1.75% p.a. when you make at least one deposit and no withdrawals each month. Available on the entire balance.
Westpac Reward Saver
1.75%
0.01%
1.74%
$0
$0 / $0
Ongoing, variable 1.75% p.a. when you deposit at least $50 and make no withdrawals each month. Available on the entire balance.
Bankwest Hero Saver
2.65%
0.01%
2.64%
$0
$0 / $0
Ongoing, variable 2.65% p.a. rate when you deposit at least $200 each month and make no withdrawals. Available on balances up to $250,000.

Compare up to 4 providers

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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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51 Responses

  1. 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.

    • Staff
      JhezelynAugust 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.

      Then:

      - 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.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  2. Default Gravatar
    July 24, 2017

    Hi i have applied for dsp twice and gave provided medical evidence dating back 15 years. I am still in the same boat and although the social workers at centrelink advised i apply for dsp, twice i have been declined. I am now considering appealing against centrelinks decision as its really getting me quite down. Can you tell me how i go about appealing please and is there a time limit i need to have done this after the last application was declined?

    • Staff
      HaroldJuly 26, 2017Staff

      Hi Becka,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Generally, 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. It would be nice to coordinate with the Department o Human Services directly to discuss your available options.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  3. Default Gravatar
    StaceyJuly 15, 2017

    Hello I am thinking of applying for the disability pension as I have struggled with major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder for most of my life. Last year I was also diagnosed as having post traumatic stress disorder. All of these psychological disorders greatly effect my life and my ability to find & hold down a job. I’m just wondering if I would be eligible for the disability pension?

    • Staff
      DanielleJuly 16, 2017Staff

      Hi Stacy,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      To qualify for Disability Support Pension you will need to:
      - 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.
      - Meet the residence requirements.
      - Meet the income and assets tests. For example, under the income test, couples over the age of 21 who earn more than $292 per fortnight, combined, will have their payment reduced by 50 cents for every dollar they earn over $292.
      - Be permanently blind, or
      - Be assessed and deemed to have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment.
      - Be unable to work, or be unable to be retrained to return to the workforce, for 15 hours or more per week at or above the minimum wage within the next 24 months.
      - Have actively participated in a Program of Support, which is designed to help you overcome any barriers to employment.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  4. Default Gravatar
    JulyJune 28, 2017

    I am on DSP and am possibly in the near future getting married. If I live with the man once married, am I still able to get support? He will not be supporting me but I will be contributing to bills. His house will remain in his and I will have funds from the sale of my house.

    • Staff
      JonathanJune 28, 2017Staff

      Hi July!

      We’re happy to hear you’re getting married soon. :)

      Marriage is considered change of personal circumstances and does affect the residence requirements and household income. We recommend that you consult this with Department of Human Services for further evaluation.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  5. Default Gravatar
    June 8, 2017

    Hello, I would like to now how to get a credit card for been on permanent disability pension and has a low credit rating please thank you.

    • Staff
      LiezlJune 8, 2017Staff

      Hi Anna,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      A good credit rating is one of the eligibility requirement when applying for credit card. To know what financing options are available for you, while you’re working on improving your credit rating, you can check this page. Alternatively, you can check this page for loan options you have if you receive Centrelink.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

  6. Default Gravatar
    julianMay 30, 2017

    Hi,

    I have chronic tendonitis in both arms & now fibromyalgia in both shoulders. I have had this condition for over 2 years now. it was a result of a work injury i.e 4 years of repetitive heavy lifting.

    I have been on sickness allowance with Centrelink for almost a year now. but am struggling as I live on my own. I am still employed with a labour hire company, but never get any shift as I cant do the work. I am about to move into the city and go to university. and need more money for living expenses.

    My case manager, told me to inquire about the disability pension.

    I asked my doctor but he didn’t want me to take that avenue as h believes it will leave me in a bad habit of relying on the disability pension.

    I disagree with him though, I just want to be on it until I complete university.

    any advice you could give me would be appreciated very much.

    cheers,

    Julian.

    • Staff
      JonathanMay 30, 2017Staff

      Hi Julian!

      Thanks for the comment.

      Just like other state-sponsored benefits, it is important that we meet the eligibility criteria for Disability Support Pension. You can visit Department of Human Services to see about the process and requirements.

      Hope this helps you out today.

      Regards,
      Jonathan

  7. Default Gravatar
    LynMay 28, 2017

    I have an auto-immune which is slowly crippling me am i entitled to the DSP

    • Staff
      LiezlMay 28, 2017Staff

      Hi Lyn,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’m afraid we won’t be able to say if you’re eligible for DSP or not. For this, you need to contact Department of Human Services so they can assess how your condition affects you. The basic eligibility criteria you have to meet are listed above. Moreover, you’ll need to obtain medical evidence when applying for a claim.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

  8. Default Gravatar
    PalyonMay 25, 2017

    In receiving a DSP am I able to earn money through income protection insurance? I am just checking, I receive DSP and income protection – which was declared at the time of application for DSP, I wish to check this is allowed.

    • Staff
      JhezelynMay 26, 2017Staff

      Hi Palyon,

      Thank you for contacting finder.com.au. Please note that we are not affiliated with the Department of Human Services.

      After further research, we found out that payments from personally owned and funded income protection policies will generally be considered compensation (income), except where the payments are not reduced by any amount of DSP payment being received. This may mean that it may affect the amount that you will receive from your DSP.

      It would be best to directly get in touch with the Department of Human Services of any relevant changes and also to confirm how much you will possibly receive, given that you are also receiving income protection.

      I hope this information helped you.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  9. Default Gravatar
    MarianneMay 20, 2017

    Hi. I’m in the process of applying for a Disability Support Pension for my 16 year old daughter. My question is about the income and assets assessment. My parents and sister have made yearly gifts to my daughter since she was born, which we have been saving for her future, and she now has a Term Deposit account with about $55,000 in it. Will this count against her when making the assessment? I understand the money earned by interest would count as income, but would the bulk of it be exempt because it came from gifts? I don’t really understand how this works, but I don’t believe she will be able to work or earn a living wage when she leaves high school, and I am concerned that her savings account — which might be used to help her get a place to live more independently in the future — might keep her from getting a pension. Thank you.

    • Staff
      AnndyMay 22, 2017Staff

      Hi Marianne,

      Thanks for your question.

      A person can have some assets and still get DSP. The amount of DSP depends on how much the assets are worth. Assets may include any property or possession partly or fully owned.

      In regards to the income earned on the term deposit account, it may reduce the total amount that your daughter may receive as pension. But to confirm this and if you also have other questions about DSP that applies to your situation, you may have to directly call the Department of Human Services for assistance.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  10. Default Gravatar
    geoffMay 4, 2017

    Hi, im 56 years and 4 months old and am withdrawing my superannuation $9500, will this affect my dsp pension. And will I have to pay tax on it my super is preserved and I only have $2000 in assets. I tried looking at web sites but is very confusing?

    • Staff
      HaroldMay 5, 2017Staff

      Hi Geoff,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      There are grounds for the early release of super and you may need to check the further information through this page.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

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