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 June 27th, 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
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.
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.
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.
Bank of Melbourne Maxi Saver
3.00%
1.00%
2.00%
$0
$1 / $1
Introductory rate of 3.00% p.a. for 3 months, reverting to 1.00% p.a. Available on the entire balance.
BankSA Maxi Saver
3.00%
1.00%
2.00%
$0
$1 / $1
Introductory rate of 3.00% p.a. for 3 months, reverting to a rate of 1.00% p.a. Available on the entire balance.
HSBC Serious Saver
2.50%
1.60%
0.90%
$0
$0 / $0
Introductory rate of 2.50% 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.
HSBC Flexi Saver Account
2.00%
1.50%
0.50%
$0
$0 / $0
Ongoing, variable 2.00% p.a. when you deposit $300+ each month (other conditions apply). Available on balances up to $5,000,000.

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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43 Responses to Eligibility requirements for the Disability Pension

  1. 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
      Liezl | June 8, 2017

      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

  2. Default Gravatar
    julian | May 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
      Jonathan | May 30, 2017

      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

  3. Default Gravatar
    Lyn | May 28, 2017

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

    • Staff
      Liezl | May 28, 2017

      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

  4. Default Gravatar
    Palyon | May 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
      Jhezelyn | May 26, 2017

      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

  5. Default Gravatar
    Marianne | May 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
      Anndy | May 22, 2017

      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

  6. Default Gravatar
    geoff | May 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
      Harold | May 5, 2017

      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

  7. Default Gravatar
    Karen | May 2, 2017

    I have rheumatoid arthritis which has been diagnosed to be as extreme as a 80 year old and I am 53.
    Winter is a killer to me.
    I am on disability allowance, I have an opportunity to spend winter in Thailand to avoid the pain.
    Am I still eligible to receive my allowance if overseas?
    My doctor has no qualms about writing a certificate for me as he knows I am crippled in winter.

    • Staff
      Harold | May 3, 2017

      Hi Kazzajbunting,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      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.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  8. Default Gravatar
    | April 27, 2017

    I applied over 12 weeks ago for disability pension. I have forwarded all that they asked for. I have been assessed by a occupational therapist at centrelink. How long does it take as i am really struggling. I can hardly walk and have to depend on my parents for help and as they are pensioners they are struggling too

    • Staff
      Anndy | April 27, 2017

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your question.

      Kindly note that we are finder.com.au, a financial comparison and information website. We do not represent the Department of Human Services.

      After you have submitted your claim, the agency will inform you what to do next. If you’re eligible, they will contact and let you know when payment will start and how much you’ll get.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  9. Default Gravatar
    Anna | April 12, 2017

    Hello,

    I have been receiving DSP for about 4years. Now I am feeling well , planning and am able to work more than 15 hours per week and also planning to go to overseas for years.

    I want to have my payment stop and close my account.

    Do I need to contact Centrelink in person or just ring up ?

    Thank you
    Anna

    • Staff
      Harold | April 13, 2017

      Hi Anna,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You’ll need to verify this information by checking on the Department of Human Services website.

      I hope this information ha shelped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  10. Default Gravatar
    Dave | February 15, 2017

    The 2 year period of disability to receive the dsp, is this from the date of applying for an operation to replace a hip or from the time you speak to centerlink

    • Staff
      Anndy | February 15, 2017

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your question.

      One of the basic requirements to receive DSP is that you are assessed to be “unable to work, or to 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 the impairment.

      You may directly contact the Department of Human Services directly to discuss your eligibility for DSP and to confirm when the two year period starts.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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