What you need to know about the Disability Support Pension

What you need to know about the Disability Support Pension

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is funded by the Australian Government to support people with disability who can’t work full time.

Key points

  • Eligibility for the Disability Support Pension includes medical and non-medical criteria

  • The amount you can receive depends on your age and situation

  • You can apply for the Disability Support Pension through Centrelink

It is a complicated process to claim the DSP, and advocacy groups for people with disability say it does not support people in the way that it should, but for those who can access it the DSP can be a source of stable income support.

Here is a list of five things you need to know about the DSP.

Eligibility

Not everyone with a disability is eligible, you also need to meet medical and non-medical criteria.

You will be eligible under the medical criteria for the following:

  • You are permanently blind

  • You need nursing home level care

  • You have an intellectual disability with an IQ of less than 70

  • You have category 4 HIV/AIDS

  • You have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than two years

  • You get a special rate disability pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs

If you don’t meet these criteria you can be assessed for the following:

  • Your condition will last more than two years

  • Your condition is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised

  • You have a rating of 20 points or more on the impairment tables

  • Your condition will stop you from working more than 15 hours a week

The non-medical criteria are that you:

  • Are between the age of 16 and the age at which you can access the age pension, which for most people is 67

  • Are an Australian resident of at least 10 years or have resided here for a total of 10 years with at least five of those years being continuous residency, or you became unable to work while living in Australia

  • Pass the income test

  • Pass the asset test

The income test

To receive the DSP you have to be earning less than a certain amount of money each fortnight, called the income test.

It includes your gross income before tax and financial assets like superannuation and shares.

You also need to work less than 30 hours a week.

If you are single you can earn $180 a fortnight without your DSP being affected but when you earn more your DSP will reduce by 50 cents for each extra dollar.

For example, if you earn $200 in one fortnight your DSP will be reduced by $10.

A couple can earn $320 and over that amount the pension reduces by the same rate - 50 cents for every dollar.

There is also an income cut off point at which you will no longer receive the DSP, but it depends on your age and situation.

These are listed on the Services Australia website under income test for pensions.

The assets test

There are also limits to how much you can own in assets, like property or possessions.

If you own more than a set amount in assets your full pension will be reduced.

The maximum assets for a full pension are: 

  • $270,500 for a single person who is a homeowner

  • $487,000 for a single person who is not a homeowner

  • $405,000 for a couple who own a home

  • $621,500 for a couple who don’t own a home

For a part pension you will stop receiving the pension completely if you own more than:

  • $593,000 for a single homeowner

  • $809,500 for a single non-homeowner

  • $891,500 for a couple with a home

  • $1,108,000 for a couple without a home

There are also different amounts for if you get a transitional rate of pension and if you are younger than 21, both of which are lower than the part pension limits.

In both situations your pension is cancelled once you own over that amount.

If you need to check your income or assets you can use the Government’s Payment and Service Finder.

How much is the DSP?

Again, this depends on your situation and age.

The maximum basic rate per fortnight is:

  • $435.10 if you are under 18, single and dependent on a guardian

  • $486.50 if you are 18 to 20, single and dependent

  • $644.40 if you are under 21, either single and independent or a couple

  • $882.20 if you are younger than 21 and caring for a child, or older than 21, single or part of a couple living separately due to poor health

  • $1,330 if you are a couple younger than 21 and caring for a child, or older than 21

The rate is updated at least once a year and can be checked on the Services Australia website.

How to apply

You can apply using your online MyGov account by clicking: 

  1. ‘Centrelink’

  2. ‘Payments and Claims’ 

  3. ‘Claims’ 

  4. ‘Make a claim’ 

  5. ‘Disabled, ill or injured’ 

  6. ‘Get Started’

If you don’t have access to the internet you need to visit Centrelink in person with your eligibility evidence. 

If your claim to access DSP is denied you can ask for a review by calling or writing to Centrelink or visiting a branch.

You can also ask for a review from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.



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