21 February 2022

You may be able to work and earn money while receiving the Disability Support Pension.

This guide explains how much you can earn on the Disability Support Pension and what the cut off points are, depending on your situation. Plus, we explain how to get help finding a job if you're ready to work.

What is the Disability Support Pension – and am I eligible?

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is an Australian Government payment for people living with a disability that stops them from working or affects how many hours they can work.

To be eligible for the Disability Support Pension, you must be an Australian resident aged between 16 years old and the pension age. You must also satisfy a number of medical and non-medical rules.

Centrelink may ask you to undertake a number of tests such as the income test, asset test and job capacity assessment to figure out how much you can earn on the Disability Support Pension. You will also be required to provide medical evidence about your condition, which may include statements and assessments from health professionals.

Depending on your situation, you may need to participate in a Program of Support before you can get income support payments. A Program of Support is delivered by an employment service provider such as APM. They help people living with an injury, illness or disability prepare for employment, find a job and get access to workplace supports.

How much is the disability pension?

How much you can get depends on a number of different factors, including:

  • How old you are
  • How much you earn
  • How much your partner earns
  • What assets you and your partner have
  • If you have dependant children

Learn more: How much is the disability pension in Australia?

Can I earn money while on the disability support pension?

You can work up to 30 hours a week and still receive disability support pension payments, provided you meet the income tests.

The disability pension has an income limit. If you earn over a certain amount, your pension amount will decrease. If you earn more than the cut off point, you will receive $0 for that fortnight.

For example, a single person over 21 years old may earn up to $180 per fortnight and get the full pension. However, if they earn over $180 per fortnight, their pension will reduce by 50 cents for each dollar over $180. If they earn over $2115 in a fortnight, they will receive $0 for that fortnight.

Does my partner's income affect my pension?

How much your partner earns will affect how much pension you can get. This is true if you are living with your partner or living apart due to ill health.

During the application process, the government will look at how much income you receive as well as how much income your partner receives. DSP payments are calculated on your combined income and combined assets.

How much can I earn on the disability support pension?

In general, your pension won't change if you work less than 30 hours per week and earn:

  • Up to $180 per fortnight if you are single
  • Up to $320 per fortnight between you and your partner

You can earn more than the amounts listed above and still receive the pension, however the amount you can earn will change. In general, your pension will reduce by:

  • 50c per dollar over $180 if you are single
  • 50c per dollar over $320 that you and your partner earn

What are the cut off points?

If you earn more than the cut off point, you will earn $0 of pension for that fortnight. The cut off points for most pensioners are:

  • $2,115.00 per fortnight if you are single and over 21 years old
  • $3,237.20 combined per fortnight for couples over 21 years old who are living together
  • $4,190.00 combined per fortnight for couples over 21 years old who are living apart due to ill health
  • $1,212.60 per fortnight if you are single with no children, aged 18-20 years old and living with your parents or carers
  • $1,104.80 per fortnight if you are single with no children, aged 16-17 years old and living with your parents or carers
  • $1,544.40 per fortnight if you are single with not children, aged 16-20 years and living independently
  • $3,036.40 combined per fortnight for couples aged 16-20 years old

What is an income test for Disability Support Pension?

The Australian Government uses an income test to determine how much you are eligible for on the Disability Support Pension.

Most types of income are assessed in the income test, including:

  • Income you get from work
  • Real estate income
  • Income from a private trust or private company
  • Superannuation contributions
  • Paid parental leave
  • Some scholarship payments

Some types of income are not assessed. For example, most Australian Government payments are not assessed.

What are the rules for earning on the DSP?

DSP recipients are required to follow some rules in order to keep receiving the pension:

  • You are required to report your income every 2 weeks, even if your income is $0
  • You must tell Centrelink if your circumstances change
  • You must meet the participation requirements if you're under 35 years old

You are better off if you earn an income

Some people think they shouldn't earn money while receiving the pension, however most people are better off financially if they earn an income.

The examples below show how earning an income on top of the pension leaves the recipients with more money per fortnight:

  • Emma is a single 30 year old woman on the Disability Support Pension. She is eligible for $880 per fortnight. Emma starts working one day per week in a retail store and earns $400 per fortnight through this job. Her pension reduces by $160 per fortnight. She now receives $400 (income) + $720 (pension) = $1,120 per fortnight.
  • John is 45 years old and lives with his wife. They currently receive $1,330 per fortnight of Disability Support Pension. John's wife starts a new job and earns $1,000 per fortnight. Their pension payment reduces by $340 per fortnight to $990. Now they earn $1,000 (income) + $990 (pension) = $1,990 per fortnight.

Do you want to work?

If you're living with an injury, illness or disability and want to work, support is available to help you reach your goals.

You might be eligible for Disability Employment Services, a government-funded program which helps people like you find and keep a job.

To find out if you're eligible or discuss your options with a professional, get in touch with the team at APM. We can help you register for Disability Employment Services or find alternative supports and services that are right for your situation.

Disclaimer

Figures in this article were last updated February 2022. For the latest figures and information, please visit the Services Australia website.

For media enquiries, please contact

adrian.bradley@apm.net.au

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