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.
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.
- 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.
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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 are||You 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 payments||Single||Couples, each||Couple combined||Couple each, separated due to ill health|
|Maximum basic rate||$860.60||$648.70||$1,297.40||$860.60|
|Maximum pension supplement||$69.60||$52.50||$105||$69.60|
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.
Compare Australian banks accounts to get your pension paid into.
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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