Planning to travel? Find out about changes to receiving Disability Support Pension while travelling outside Australia
- aged between 16 years of age and Age Pension age
- permanently blind or have been assessed as having a physical, intellectual, or psychiatric impairment
- unable to work, or to be retrained for work, for 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage within the next 2 years because of your impairment
- have been assessed as having a severe impairment or as having actively participated in a Program of Support
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, call the TTY service on Freecall 1800 810 586. A TTY phone is required in order to use this service.
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for Disability Support Pension
You may receive Disability Support Pension if you:
- are aged between 16 years of age and Age Pension age
- meet the residence requirements
- meet the income and assets tests for your situation
- are permanently blind, or
- are assessed as having a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment
- are unable to work, or be retrained for work, for 15 hours or more per week at or above the relevant minimum wage within the next 2 years because of your impairment
- have actively participated in, or completed a Program of Support if required
To assess your eligibility for Disability Support Pension, we usually need a report from your doctor or specialist about your disability, injury or illness. You may also need to have a Job Capacity Assessment. This helps us determine whether you can work, how much work you can do, and how much help you need to find and keep a job.
Program of Support for Disability Support Pension
A Program of Support is a Commonwealth Government funded program to help you prepare for, find or maintain work.
Read more about Program of Support for Disability Support Pension
Medical evidence and assessment
Depending on your medical condition, we may require specific medical evidence to assess your eligibility for Disability Support Pension.
Payment rates for Disability Support Pension
The payment rates for Disability Support Pension are updated on 20 March and 20 September each year for those over 21 years of age or under 21 years of age with children.
The rates are updated on 1 January of each year for those under 21 years of age without children.
The rate of Disability Support Pension may be affected by your or your partner’s income and assets.
|Maximum payment rates of the Disability Support Pension if you are over 21 years of age, or under 21 years of age with children||Maximum rate per fortnight|
|a member of a couple||$585.50 each or
|couple separated due to ill health||$776.70 each|
|If you are under 21 years of age with no children||Maximum rate per fortnight|
|single, under 18 years of age, at home||$355.30|
|single, under 18 years of age, independent||$548.50|
|single, 18-20 years of age, at home||$402.70|
|single, 18-20 years of age, independent||$548.50|
|a member of a couple, up to age 20 years of age||$548.50|
These amounts exclude the Pension Supplement, a fortnightly payment additional to the base pension. The maximum rates of Pension Supplement for singles over 21 years of age and for each member of a couple over 21 years of age separated due to ill health is $63.50 a fortnight. The maximum rate for couples both over 21 years of age is $95.80 a fortnight combined.
These amounts include the Youth Disability Supplement, a fortnightly payment additional to the base pension for persons under 21 years of age. The maximum rate of Youth Disability Supplement is $121.70 a fortnight.
Residence requirements for Disability Support Pension
To be eligible for Disability Support Pension, you must satisfy residence requirements. You must:
- be an Australian resident, and
- be physically present in Australia on the day you lodge your claim
You also need to have been an Australian resident for a continuous period of at least 10 years, or for a number of periods that total more than 10 years, with 1 of the periods being at least 5 years, unless:
- you are a refugee or former refugee
- your inability to work or permanent blindness happened while you were an Australian resident, or
- you were a dependent child of an Australian resident at the time your inability to work or permanent blindness happened and you became an Australian resident while you were a dependent child
You may need to meet the above residence requirements for the period you get this payment.
If you have lived or worked in a country with which Australia has an International Social Security Agreement, it may help you meet these residence requirements.
Income and assets tests for Disability Support Pension
The amount of Disability Support Pension you receive will depend on your income and assets.
You can earn a certain amount of income before your Disability Support Pension payment is affected. Read more about the Income test for pensions.
An asset is any property or possession you partly or fully own. It includes assets held outside Australia and debts owing to you. Read more about the Assets test for pensions.
If you are in severe financial hardship but do not meet the eligibility criteria, we will help you by assessing your financial situation and assets differently. Read more about hardship provisions.
If you are permanently blind
If you are permanently blind, you may not be subject to the income or assets test unless:
- you are claiming Rent Assistance, or
- your partner claims an income support payment
Your parents’ income and assets do not affect payment rates. If you get Worker’s Compensation or Third Party damages, it may affect your payment.
Transitional rate of pension
The transitional rate of pension is a special rate for people who would have received a lower pension because of income test changes in 2009.
You will remain on the transitional rate while it is higher than the rate you would be paid under the current income test.
Changes, such as losing a job or an extra day’s pay one fortnight, can result in your transitional rate of pension no longer being higher than the current rate.
While you receive the transitional rate, it is compared to the rate of pension you would receive under the current income test. You are no longer eligible for the transitional rate when the current rate of pension is the same or more than your transitional rate.
You cannot go back to your transitional rate if you start receiving the current rate.
A Service Officer or Financial Information Service officer can explain what effect a brief change may have on your pension, for example an increase or decrease in your employment income.
Other benefits while receiving Disability Support Pension
If you have a disability, illness or injury and you receive Disability Support Pension, you may also qualify for other payments and services such as:
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- register an intent to claim
- read the conditions for claiming and watch the video
- complete your forms
- obtain medical evidence
- complete the supporting documentation
- submit your claim
- we assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
Change of circumstances while receiving Disability Support Pension
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving a payment. For example, if:
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address
- your income changes
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- your care arrangements change
- your work or study load changes
- you leave Australia
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days your payment may be affected. You may be overpaid benefits and you will probably have to pay the money back.
If you deliberately do not tell us about changes, you could be charged with fraud, and a recovery fee may be imposed.
We do regular reviews to make sure that you continue to be eligible for payments and that your rate of payment is correct.
Allowable working hours while receiving Disability Support Pension
If you receive Disability Support Pension, you can work for up to 30 hours a week and continue to receive a part pension, as long as you still meet the income test.
If you work for 30 hours or more, your payments will be stopped. If you reduce your work hours within 2 years, contact us and we can check whether your payment can start again.
Pensioner Concession Card
While you are receiving Disability Support Pension, you are automatically entitled to a Pensioner Concession Card. You can still use your Pensioner Concession Card for up to 12 months even if your income reduces your Disability Support Pension payment to zero.
If you return to work, you need to let us know
If you are not working at the moment and you start working, you will need to contact us. If you are working and you increase your hours or your income changes, you need to let us know.
If you start work or increase your working hours we will carry out an income test. This will allow us to work out if your payment will change. If your circumstances stay the same, you do not need to do anything.
Participation requirements for Disability Support Pension
If you are under 35 years of age and receive a Disability Support Pension, you will need to attend regular participation interviews with us.
Advance payment options
You may be eligible to receive part of your Centrelink payment in advance depending on how long you have been getting it and the amount that you get.
Disability Support Pension while travelling outside Australia
Your Disability Support Pension (DSP) may be affected while you are outside Australia.
Someone to deal with us on your behalf
If you want someone else to handle your Centrelink, Child Support or Medicare business you can authorise them to deal with us on your behalf.
Weekly payment option
You may be eligible to receive your income support payment weekly, instead of fortnightly, in certain circumstances.
Income Stream Reviews
Each year in August and February we review your account-based pension, account-based annuity and market-linked income streams.
Income you earn can affect your payment. We need to know what you have earned each fortnight so you are paid the right amount.
Disability Medical Assessment
To help determine your eligibility for Disability Support Pension, you may be referred a Disability Medical Assessment.
A Disability Medical Assessment helps us review your medical evidence to determine your medical eligibility for Disability Support Pension. Not everyone will need to attend a Disability Medical Assessment.
Your referral for a Disability Medical Assessment
You may be referred for a Disability Medical Assessment when you claim Disability Support Pension. It is now a compulsory part of the application process for some customers.Your Disability Medical Assessment will be conducted by a government contracted doctor or specialist. Your usual doctor or specialist will not conduct the assessment. The government contracted doctor can contact your doctors if they need more information. All government contracted doctors are qualified and trained to carry out these assessments.
There is no cost for this assessment.
If you cannot attend a Disability Medical Assessment
If you are unable to attend the appointment you must call us before the scheduled time on 132 717. Another appointment will be arranged for you.
If you miss the appointment, you must call us on 132 717 as soon as possible and arrange another time.
Contact us if you have:
- any difficulty attending your appointment , for example, because of mobility issues
- any special requirements, for example, you prefer to be interviewed by a government contracted doctor of a particular gender because of your cultural or religious beliefs
If you do not attend your appointment, your claim for Disability Support Pension will be rejected.
At your Disability Medical Assessment
The government contracted doctor will discuss your condition and the evidence you have given to support your claim. Before your appointment they may have sought more information from your treating doctors or other specialists.
The government contracted doctor will not diagnose your condition, or provide any medical advice or treatment.
The length of the appointment will vary according to your individual circumstances and the type of condition being assessed. Allow an hour for your appointment.
What to bring to a Disability Medical Assessment
Bring any extra information and documents about your medical conditions. You do not have to bring the information you have already provided with your claim.
Read more about the types of medical evidence you may be required to bring to your assessment.
If you have concerns about your assessment
If you have concerns about any aspect of your assessment, you should first speak to the government contracted doctor. If the government contracted doctor does not resolve your concerns to your satisfaction, you can provide a complaint or feedback.
Your privacy and personal information
Government contracted doctors are required to protect your privacy and provide a confidential service.
Contact us if you would like to request a copy of your report. We will let you know if you need to make a formal written request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to obtain a copy of your report.
News for people with disability
Listen to the disability podcast, which offers interesting information and interviews that will keep you informed and up to date.
Disability champion videos
Watch videos featuring our Disability Champions who share their stories and achievements with us.
Skills for Education and Employment
A program to help develop speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills to improve the chances of getting and keeping a job.
Read more about Skills for Education and Employment.
Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.
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