What is the disability support pension?

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a social security benefit offered through the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services that aims to provide support to those who meet the requirements. This includes individuals with a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops them from working and therefore earning money. It’s also offered to support those who are permanently blind.

Who has access to the disability support pension?

Not every person with a disability or medical condition qualifies for the DSP or receives the same monetary benefit. Instead, the DSP operates on a case by case basis to provide individuals with the most suitable financial help. To receive this support, individuals need to meet both non-medical rules and medical rules.

Non-medical rules

The non-medical rules required to access DSP include being aged between 16 and Age Pension age when claiming and meeting residency rules and income and assets tests. Residency rules generally require individuals looking to access the DSP to be an Australian resident for a minimum of 10 years. For at least 5 of these years, there must be no break in residency in Australia.

However, the 10 year rule doesn’t apply if an individual is unable to work or becomes permanently blind while they were either an Australian resident or a dependent child of an Australian resident.

The amount of DSP an individual can receive depends on their assessable income and assets. The Department of Human Services undertakes income and assets tests to determine eligibility. Individuals can earn some income and still access the DSP, however, the amount will depend on the value of the income. Similarly, individuals can have some assets and qualify for the DSP., but the amount will depend on how much the assets are worth.

For individuals facing severe financial hardship, the Department of Human Services can assess the financial situation differently.

Medical

Individuals also need to meet either the manifest medical rules or the general medical rules. If those seeking DSP don’t meet the manifest medical rules, they may meet the general medical rules. However, if you don’t meet either the manifest or general medical rules, you’re not medically eligible for the DSP.

Manifest medical rules

You’ll meet the manifest medical rules if any of the following apply:

  • You’re permanently blind
  • You have a terminal illness with an average life expectancy of less than two years
  • You have an intellectual disability with an IQ of less than 70
  • You have category 4 HIV/AIDS
  • You need nursing home level care
  • You get a Department of Veterans’ Affairs special rate disability pension (totally and permanently incapacitated).

If individuals meet any of the manifest medical rules, they may be able to access the DSP. However, they’ll also need to meet the non-medical rules as well.

Individuals who are single, under 18 and independent receive a maximum rate per fortnight of $585. Those who are single, aged 18-20 and independent receive $585.

Depending on an individuals’ circumstances, payment can be received in advance in part, or provided weekly if homelessness or financial hardship is a factor.

General medical rules

The DSP have general medical rules that those who don’t meet the manifest medical rules may meet to qualify to receive DSP.

The general medical rules are:

  • Your condition will last more than 2 years
  • Your condition is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised
  • You have an impairment rating of 20 points or more
  • You meet Program of Support rules – if these apply to you
  • Your condition will stop you working at least 15 hours a week in the next 2 years .

It’s important to remember that if you meet all the general medical rules as well as the non-medical rules, then you may be able to access the DSP.

Medical evidence

Another important thing to know is that the DSP requires medical evidence from those claiming to help them assess if you’re eligible. The evidence required usually depends on the nature of the disability or medical condition, but generally includes:

  • Your diagnosed disability or medical condition/s
  • Past, current and planned treatment
  • How your condition impacts you day-to-day
  • The names and contact details of your treating doctors.

To meet eligibility requirements, individuals need to provide evidence that the disability or medical condition affects their ability to work

How much is the disability support pension worth?

The DSP rate varies depending on if those applying are single or married, and with children or without. The DSP payment rates are updated on March 20 and September 20 each year for those 21 and over with or without children, and those under 21 with children. The rates for those under 21 without children are updated on January 1 each year.

Singles 21 or over with or without children, or those under 21 with children, receive a maximum basic rate of $843.60. The maximum Pension Supplement is $68.50 and the Energy Supplement is $14.10, making the maximum total $926.20.

Those under 18 who are single with no children and living at home receive a maximum rate of $379 per fortnight. Those who are single, aged 18-20 and living at home receive $429.60.

Individuals who are single, under 18 and independent receive a maximum rate per fortnight of $585. Those who are single, aged 18-20 and independent receive $585.

Depending on an individuals’ circumstances, payment can be received in advance in part, or provided weekly if homelessness or financial hardship is a factor.

How Ability Options can help

Ability Options offers a range of support services for individuals in Australia living with a disability. Contact us today to find out more about how our services can help you.

Do you know someone who could benefit from our services?

Refer them to Ability Options to help them get the support they want and deserve.

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