10 February 2022

Find out if you're eligible for financial support for your permanent disability or medical condition.

If you are living with a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that affects your ability to work, you may be eligible for financial and other support from the Australian government and service providers.

This article explains eligibility for the disability pension, how to claim and what to do if you're not eligible.

What is the Disability Support Pension?

The Disability Support Pension is a financial payment from the Australian Government to people who live with a permanent disability that stops them from working.

Who is eligible for disability pension?

The Disability Support Pension is for people living with a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that affects their ability to work.

Not everyone living with a disability will be able to get the Disability Support Pension.

To be eligible, you need to meet a number of rules. These include non-medical rules about your age, income and residency status. There are also medical rules about your condition and how it impacts your ability to work.

Non-medical rules

You must meet all of the non-medical rules to be eligible.

Age

You must be between 16 years old and the age pension age (currently 65 years old).

You can apply for the Disability Support Pension 3 months before you turn 16 years old, but you will not receive payments until you turn 16.

Residency

In general, you have to be an Australian resident for at least 10 years to be eligible.

However, there may be some circumstances where the 10 year rule doesn't apply:

  • You are a refugee or former refugee
  • You became unable to work or permanently blind while an Australian resident
  • You were or are a dependent child of an Australian resident when you became unable to work or permanently blind.

Income

You can earn some income and still be eligible. However, there are income limits which may reduce how much you can receive.

If you and/or your partner earn more than the limit, the amount you are eligible for will reduce.

Assets

Assets are properties or possessions that you own fully or partly, or that you earn interest from. That includes assets outside of Australia and debts owed to you.

You can own some assets and still be eligible for the Disability Support Pension.

If the value of your or your partner's assets is higher than the limit, the amount you are eligible for will be less.

Find out more about limits and how much you're eligible for: How much is the disability pension in Australia?

Medical rules

Your eligibility for the Disability Support Pension depends on whether you meet the medical rules. You need to meet either the manifest medical rules or the general medical rules.

Manifest medical rules

If any of the following rules apply, you may be eligible:

  • You are permanently blind
  • You have an intellectual disability and an IQ under 70
  • You need nursing home level care
  • You have category 4 HIV/AIDS
  • You have a terminal illness with a life expectancy under 2 years
  • You receive a Department of Veterans' Affairs Disability Compensation Payment at the Special Rate

General medical rules

If you meet all of the following criteria and the non-medical rules, you may be eligible.

  • Your condition will last for more than 2 years
  • Your condition is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised
  • Your condition will stop you from working at least 15 hours a week in the next 2 years or will stop you from retraining for another job
  • You will also need to meet Program of Support rules and have an impairment rating of 20 points or more.

Impairment rating

The government will assess your impairment using the Impairment Tables to see how your condition affects your ability to work.

You will be given an impairment rating based on the Impairment Tables and specialist medical evidence.

If your impairment rating is below 20, you will not be eligible for the Disability Support Pension. If your rating is over 20, you may be eligible if you meet the other non-medical and medical requirements.

Program of Support rules

Programs of support help people living with disability prepare for employment, find suitable jobs and stay in work.

You may have to participate in a program of support before you can claim the Disability Support Pension.

You may not have to participate in a program or support if:

  • You meet the manifest medical rules
  • You have an impairment rating of over 20 for a single Impairment Table

Job Capacity Assessment

To claim DSP, you may need to undergo a Job Capacity Assessment.

During the assessment, you will be asked questions about:

  • Your condition/s
  • How your conditions affect your ability to work
  • Your medical evidence
  • Assistance or rehabilitation you have had
  • Assistive technologies, aides and other equipment you use

Disability Medical Assessment

You may need to attend a disability medical assessment if you are claiming under the general medical rules.

In the assessment, a Doctor will ask you about your condition and review your medical evidence and your impairment rating. You should bring any new medical evidence that you haven't already submitted.

How to make DSP claims if you are eligible

You can make a claim:

  • Online using your MyGov account or your Centrelink account
  • In person or via post by filling out a form

Before you start making your claim, make sure you have all the supporting documents and medical evidence you need to make your claim.

You can track the progress of your claim using your MyGov account. You will get a notification on MyGov or in the mail when the application has been processed.

What if you aren't eligible?

If you don't meet the requirements of eligibility for disability pension, you may be eligible for other payments and support programs.

An NDIS Local Area Coordinator like APM can help you find supports and services that are right for you.

Find out more about the programs and payments below by clicking on the links:

Disclaimer

The information in this article is provided as an overview only and may not be the latest or most accurate information on the topic. Please view the relevant government websites for the most up to date information about eligibility for disability pension.

For media enquiries, please contact

adrian.bradley@apm.net.au

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