Australia’s disability support pension (DSP) is a vital form of government financial assistance for those living with disability. However, advocacy groups have raised concerns that it’s a complicated process and the high eligibility requirements are exclusionary. Nevertheless, those who are eligible benefit from the stable income this disability grant provides.
In this article we look at what it is, how it differs from the National Disability Insurance Service (NDIS), who qualifies, how much funding it involves and how to access it.
But first, here’s a September 2023 update on what we wrote below in January:
There’ll be an increase to the base rate of the Disability Support Pension and other government welfare payments from 20 September 2023 (when they’re next indexed). The DSP indexation occurs twice a year, on 20 March and 20 September, and is the method by which welfare payments are kept ‘real’ in terms of inflation, cost of living and movements in wages. DSP (Youth) recipients will receive a $40 a fortnight increase to their payments, whereas DSP customers aged 21 and over will receive the CPI increase. Read more here.
Table of contents
What is the disability support pension?
The disability support pension is a social grant from the Australian government. It’s given to those who have a permanent physical, intellectual, or psychiatric medical condition that stops them from working. Having a disability or medical condition does not qualify you for DSP until you prove the condition prohibits you from working.
To receive the disability support pension, you must be medically assessed and diagnosed, and be unable to work at least 15 hours a week for at least two years. Administration and payment of it is handled by Centrelink, the government organisation that delivers income support and other payments to Australians.
How is it different to the NDIS?
The National Disability Insurance Service (NDIS) is a government program that assists Australians who are born with or acquire a permanent and significant disability.
NDIS funding is granted to individuals for the purpose of helping them pay for support and services related to their disability that helps them reach their goals. In other words, for a new wheelchair, physiotherapy, or home modifications intended to make a more accessible home. Check out our NDIS guru’s article on the steps to access the NDIS, as well as these useful NDIS resources:
- Will the NDIS Contribute Towards Your Insurance Costs?
- NDIS Guru – Will The NDIS Fund My Wheelchair?
- NDIS Guru – Things I wish I knew before becoming involved in the NDIS
The disability support pension, on the other hand, is a set, recurring amount of money paid to qualifying individuals who have one or more disabilities that stop them from working. It’s intended to take the place of an individual’s wages. Unlike the NDIS, this disability grant can be used to pay for living costs, things that aren’t related to the person’s disability – from food to utilities to leisure activities.
The two schemes are entirely different, and being eligible for one won’t disqualify you from applying for the other. Just keep in mind that the NDIS will not pay for anything that’s already covered by another system. You can learn more about the difference between the two here:
Who is eligible for the disability support pension?
You will need to meet medical and non-medical criteria in order to access this disability grant. Manifest medical criteria that would qualify you include one or more of the following:
- Permanent blindness
- Requiring a nursing home level of care
- An intellectual disability with an IQ of less than 70
- Category 4 HIV/Aids
- A terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than two years
- You get a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Disability Compensation Payment at the Special Rate
You may qualify for the disability support pension if you have any of the above, however you will still need to meet certain non-medical criteria. If you don’t meet any of the above manifest medical criteria, you may still be able to apply if you meet these general medical rules.
Non-medical criteria include:
- Being at least 15 years and 9 months of age and under the Age Pension age, which is at least 66.5 years of age (read more about this here)
- Being 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 become unable to work while living in Australia
- Passing the income test
- Passing the asset test
The DSP has a useful test you can take to check your eligibility before claiming. Here’s some valuable information on what will make you eligible:
How much is the DSP?
Interestingly, the disability support pension was increased in December 2022 by the most it had been in 12 years – by 6.1%. According to YahooFinance, 1 million Australians on Centrelink payments saw a major boost to their payments on January 1, 2023.
As at August 2023, i.e. before the 20 September increase we mention in this article’s introduction, the fortnightly disability payment amounts according to Services Australia website were:
How do I claim it?
- your past, current and planned treatment
- how your condition impacts you day to day
- the names and contact details of your treating doctors
- your symptoms
- your prognosis
As mentioned before, qualifying for the disability support pension can be a long and complicated process, so be sure to check your eligibility status before you start your application.
Protect what matters
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