What you need to know about the Disability Support Pension

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Let the team at Disability Support Guide know how the pension has affected your well-being. [Source: iStock]

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

Claiming the Disability Support Pension can be complicated and advocacy groups for people with disability believe 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:


Not everyone with disability is eligible for the DSP, as you need to meet medical and non-medical criteria.

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

  • 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;
  • you meet Program of Support rules, if these apply to you;
  • your condition will stop you from working more than 15 hours a week within the next two years.

The non-medical criteria are that you:

  • are the age of, at least, 15 years and 9 months and under the Age Pension age, which, for most people, is 67;
  • are an Australian resident of at least 10 years or have lived here for a total of 10 years with at least five of those years being continuous residency, unless you become unable to work while living in Australia;
  • pass the income and asset tests.

The income test

To receive the DSP you have to be earning less than a certain amount of money each fortnight, which is known as the ‘income test.’

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

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

If you are single, you can earn $204 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 $214 in one fortnight your DSP will be reduced by $5.

A couple can earn $360 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 the 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, as of March 20, 2024:

  • $301,750 for a single person who is a homeowner
  • $543,750 for a single person who is not a homeowner
  • $451,500 for a couple who own a home
  • $693,500 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, as of March 20 2024:

  • $674,000 for a single homeowner
  • $916,000 for a single non-homeowner
  • $1,012,500 for a couple with a home
  • $1,254,500 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 are 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, the amount you can receive through the DSP depends on your situation and age.

The maximum basic rate per fortnight is, as of March 20, 2024:

  • $548.80 if you are under 18, single and dependent on a guardian
  • $792.50 if you are under 18, single and independent
  • $608.70 if you are 18 to 20, single and dependent
  • $792.50 if you are 18 to 20, single and independent
  • $792.50 if you are a couple younger than 21
  • $1,020.60 if you are 21 or older and single, or younger than 21, single, with a child in your care
  • $1,538.60 if you are 21 or older and a couple — combined — or younger than 21 and a couple with a child in your care

The rate is reviewed generally in March and September every 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.

Why are you accessing the Disability Support Pension? Tell us in the comments below. Subscribe to the Disability Support Guide newsletter for more information, news and industry updates.

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What does Centrelink do in Australia?
Financial support for people with disability
Employment and volunteering options under the NDIS