Eligibility for the Disability Support Pension

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

If you are living with a permanent injury, illness or disability that affects your ability to work, there is support available to help.

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 make a new claim and what options and supports are available to you if you're not eligible.

What is the Disability Support Pension?

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a financial payment from the Australian Government to people who live with a permanent injury, illness or disability that impacts their ability to work.

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 an injury, illness or 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.

It can be difficult to grasp all the requirements of eligibility for the disability pension, so we've broken it down for you.

Non-medical rules

Eligibility for the Disability Support Pension requires you meet all of the non-medical rules.

Age

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

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

Residence requirement

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 for the DSP.

However, there are limits to your income support payments that 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 four 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

Upon a medical review, if you meet all of the following criteria and the non-medical rules, you may be eligible.

  • Your condition will last for more than two 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 two 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 social security impairment tables to see how your condition affects your ability to work.

These tables are designed to assess the impact of a person's permanent physical, intellectual, or psychiatric condition on their ability to work.

The assessment considers various factors, including functional limitations, treatment, and rehabilitation outcomes, to assign an impairment rating.

A rating of 20 points or more, combined with meeting other non-medical and medical requirements, may qualify you for the DSP.

The Impairment Tables ensure that the eligibility process is consistent, objective, and transparent, helping to identify individuals who genuinely need the financial support provided by the Disability Support Pension.

Program of Support rules

If you have an impairment rating of less than 20, and you don't have a manifest medical condition, you may be required to participate in a Program of Support.

A Program of Support helps 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 of Support if:

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

If you are required to participate in a Program of Support, there are several Disability Employment Service providers you can choose from, such as APM.

At APM, we help people living with injury, illness or disability find and keep fulfilling work and achieve their goals.

We can help you with your job search process including things like interview coaching, helping you write a resume and other various training activities.

If you are required to participate in a Program of Support, register now to get started with our friendly team.

Job Capacity Assessment

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

A Job Capacity Assessment is a critical component of the DSP application process, designed to evaluate the impact of your medical condition on your ability to work.

This will ensure you receive the right assistance and resources.

A Job Capacity Assessment involves a full review of your medical evidence, your functional limitations, and any relevant treatments or rehabilitation you have undergone.

The assessment also takes into account any use of assistive technologies, aides, or equipment.

The assessment helps determine your support requirements, including your eligibility for the disability pension and/or a referral to a Disability Employment Services provider like APM.

During the assessment, you will be asked questions about:

  • Your medical condition/s.
  • How your medical 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.

A Disability Medical Assessment can only be performed by a government-contracted medical practitioner or clinical psychologist.

In the assessment the 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.

The doctor's role is to validate the information you provide and ensure that your condition has been fully diagnosed, treated, and stabilised.

Based on the outcome of this assessment, your eligibility for the DSP is determined, ensuring that those with genuine needs receive the appropriate financial support requirements.

How to make DSP claims if you are eligible

Once you've determined you are eligible, you can begin to make your DSP claim.

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.

For more information on how to apply for the DSP, read our step-by-step guide.

Can I receive payment while I wait?

During the DSP application process, you might be eligible for other temporary financial support to alleviate financial stress while waiting for a decision on your DSP claim.

The JobSeeker payment (previously known as the Newstart allowance) is one option, which is designed to provide short-term financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to illness or injury or are actively seeking employment.

The specific payment amount and eligibility criteria may vary depending on your personal circumstances, such as your income, assets, and living arrangements.

It is essential for you to explore these options and consult with relevant authorities to ensure you receive the appropriate support during your DSP application process.

What if you aren't eligible?

If you aren't eligible for the DSP, there are several steps you can take.

If you disagree with the final eligibility decision, you can ask for a review of the decision, and appeal it if necessary.

For more information on this process, view our step-by-step DSP application guide.

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:

How we can help you on your employment journey

If you aren't eligible for the Disability Support Pension and find yourself in need of employment, or want to find work to supplement your DSP, a Disability Employment Services provider like APM can help.

At APM, our friendly consultants are passionate about finding a job that is right for you, and helping you access all the support you need to thrive in your new role.

Register today to start your job search and take the first step in finding work you love.

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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.