The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is funded by the Australian Government to support people with disability who can’t work full time.
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.
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:
‘Payments and Claims’
‘Make a claim’
‘Disabled, ill or injured’
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.
Do you have any important information to add about the Disability Support Pension? Tell us in the comments below.