Eligibility requirements for the Disability Pension

Information verified correct on December 9th, 2016
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 who earn more than $160 per fortnight will have their payment reduced by 50 cents for every dollar they earn over $160.

And

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

And

  • Be unable to work, or be unable to be retrained to return to the workforce, for 15 hours or more of work 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.
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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.

Let your pension earn interest in a high interest savings account

Rates last updated December 9th, 2016
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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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23 Responses to Eligibility requirements for the Disability Pension

  1. Default Gravatar
    ALVINA | November 8, 2016

    I have depression anxiety ocd recently diagnosed Cptsd mental health issues,sleep apnea, diabetes asthmatic.I am in the process of treatment with professional help so I can live and do normal tasks. when should I apply for a disability pension

    • Staff
      Harold | November 9, 2016

      I have depression anxiety ocd recently diagnosed Cptsd mental health issues,sleep apnea, diabetes asthmatic.I am in the process of treatment with professional help so I can live and do normal tasks. when should I apply for a disability pension

    • Staff
      Harold | November 9, 2016

      Hello Alvina,

      Thank you for your question.

      For your guidance you may need to follow this procedure.

      The first step is heading over to the Department of Human Services to confirm the eligibility requirements. Then, follow the process below:
      – Contact the department 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
      The Department of Human Services will then assess your claim and let you know the outcome.

      I hope this has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  2. Default Gravatar
    Lisa | September 20, 2016

    I had a brain aneurysm at the age of 12 which left my left hand side paralysed. I have held 3 part time jobs but can no longer work due to arthritic pain in my right knee which is my main relient leg. My husband has a well paying job but I just wandered if I was entitled to a benefit Thank you.

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | September 21, 2016

      Hi Lisa,

      There are various criteria you need to meet to be eligible for the disability pension. As well as meeting the criteria outlined on the page above you need to meet a means and asset test. The income test depends on whether you have children and will reduce the more you earn. Once you earn $2,936.80 per fortnight you are not eligible for any pension support. You’ll need to verify that you meet the income and asset tests by checking on the Department of Human Services website.

      Hope this helps,

      Elizabeth

  3. Default Gravatar
    Pia | September 7, 2016

    I am 52 years old and have been suffering from MH issues most of my life. I was terminated from my employment due to my condition and prognosis. I have been assessed by Centrelink as being disabled. My husband earns about $55000 gross a year am I entitled to any DSP at all?
    Thank you Pia

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | September 20, 2016

      Hi Pia,

      You’ll need to contact the Department of Human Services directly to discuss your eligibility for DSP. But if you are assessed as having a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment, are unable to work or be retrained for work for 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage within the next 2 years because of your impairment, and have actively participated in, or completed, a Program of Support if required, you can be eligible for the DSP. Your payments will be determined as part of a couple.

      Hope this helps,

      Elizabeth

  4. Default Gravatar
    Danny | August 28, 2016

    Hi,
    I am 62 and wondering if I was eligible for a disability pension. In October 2013, I had my entire colon removed ( Total Colectomy ).

    I did have a Bistro and had to give it up due to illness in December 2014.

    In August 2015, I had a Reversal ( Ileorectal Anastomosis ). I cannot work because due to the removal of my Colon, I need to go to the Toilet several times a day. I do have all medical documentation.

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | August 29, 2016

      Hi Danny,

      To be eligible for the DSP you need to meet various requirements including that you are assessed as having a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment, are unable to work or be retrained for work for 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage within the next 2 years because of your impairment, and have actively participated in, or completed, a Program of Support if required.

      You’ll need to contact the Department of Human Services directly to discuss your eligibility for the pension.

      Hope this helps,

      Elizabeth

  5. Default Gravatar
    Marilyn | August 8, 2016

    Hi, I have just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Would I be entitled to a disability pension?

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | August 9, 2016

      Hi Marilyn,

      To be eligible for the DSP you need to meet various criteria, including that you:
      are assessed as having a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment,
      are unable to work, or be retrained for work, for 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage within the next 2 years because of your impairment, and
      have actively participated in, or completed, a Program of Support if required

      You’ll need to contact the department of Human Services to discuss your condition and see if you are eligible. You should visit the Department’s website to confirm what evidence you’ll need to produce of your condition.

      I hope this helps,

      Elizabeth

  6. Default Gravatar
    Daniel | June 27, 2016

    I’ve been able to find work in my normal occupation due to arthritis in my neck and depression from breakdown for nearly for years.
    Im nearly 55 so I’m limited to who may hire me.
    Can I get DSP or another pension or benefit

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | June 28, 2016

      Hi Daniel,

      You’ll need to get in contact with the Department of Human Services to confirm your eligibility for the DSP. You’ll need medical evidence and documentation to support your claim.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more assistance,

      Elizabeth

  7. Default Gravatar
    Lyn | June 13, 2016

    hi,
    I recently had a back injury and can no longer work in my present job. My doctor has advised me to go on a care plan.
    I’m looking at going on a disability pension when I finish work at the end of the month.
    I’m really not sure how to go about this and what steps to take – can you help me?
    Thanks

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | June 15, 2016

      Hi Lyn,

      You need to follow the following steps to claim the Disability Support Pension:
      - 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
      - The Department will then assess your claim and let you know the outcome

      I hope this helps,

      Elizabeth

  8. Default Gravatar
    Dudek | June 8, 2016

    Hi,
    I have elderly in-laws on age pension. One is permanently blind. What are the rules regarding income and asset tests? How are they calculated for each person?
    Thank you.

  9. Default Gravatar
    Barbara | May 25, 2016

    I want to apply for a disability pension. How much can I have in a savings account and still apply?

    • Staff
      Shirley | May 26, 2016

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your question.

      The assets limit depends on your personal situation. For example, for a single homeowner, the limit is $202,000.

  10. Default Gravatar
    | May 17, 2016

    I want to apply for disability pension. I safer from severe osteoarthritis, migraine and depression for many years and am not able to work more than 8-14 hrs per week. Age 54. Where do I start?
    Thanks

    Enna

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | May 17, 2016

      Hi Enna,

      The first step is heading over to the Department of Human Services to confirm the eligibility requirements. Then, follow the process below:
      – Contact the department 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
      The Department of Human Services will then assess your claim and let you know the outcome.

      I hope this has helped,

      Elizabeth

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