Disability Support Pension
Financial support if you have a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition that stops you from working.
- between 16 years of age and age pension age
- have a permanent medical condition that stops you from working
- meet residency requirements
- meet income and assets tests
Eligibility & payment rates
You may get Disability Support Pension if you:
- are between 16 years and age pension age
- meet residency requirements
- meet income and assets tests
- have a permanent and diagnosed disability or medical condition, or
- get a Department of Veterans’ Affairs special rate disability pension due to total and permanent incapacity
You may need to show you:
- have done a Program of Support, and
- can’t work or retrain to work for at least 15 hours a week in the next 2 years
To get Disability Support Pension, you must be:
- an Australian resident, and
- in Australia on the day you claim
How long you need to have been a resident
To get Disability Support Pension you need to have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years in total. For at least 5 of these years, there must be no break in your residence.
What may be different
The 10 year time frame doesn’t apply if you:
- are a refugee or former refugee
- became unable to work or permanently blind while you were:
- an Australian resident, or
- a dependent child of an Australian resident and you then got your Australian resident status while a dependent child
If you don’t meet these rules but you’ve lived or worked in a country that has a social security agreement with Australia, the agreement may help you to claim.
The amount of Disability Support Pension (DSP) paid to you depends on your assessable income and assets.
You can earn some income and still get DSP. The amount depends on how much income you earn.
Read more about the income test for pensions.
You can have some assets and still get DSP. The amount depends on how much your assets are worth.
Your assets include any property or possession you partly or fully own including assets held outside Australia and debts owed to you.
On 1 January 2017 there was a change to the assets test that may have affected your payment.
Read more about the assets test for pensions.
We can assess your financial situation differently if you don’t meet the income and assets test and you’re in severe financial hardship.
Read more about asset hardship provisions.
If you’re permanently blind
You may not be subject to the income or assets test if you’re permanently blind, unless:
- you’re claiming Rent Assistance, or
- your partner claims an income support payment
If you or your partner get a payment for compensation or damages, it may affect the amount we pay you.
Read more about compensation.
To get Disability Support Pension (DSP), we need to assess how your condition affects you.
When you give us your medical evidence with your claim, we’ll be able to tell if you’re medically eligible if you:
- are permanently blind
- have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than 2 years
- have an intellectual disability with an IQ of less than 70, or
- need nursing home level care
Fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised
If you don’t meet any of those situations, your medical condition must be fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised. You may need to attend a Job Capacity Assessment to assess if your disability or medical condition is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised.
To decide if your condition is fully diagnosed we assess if:
- a qualified medical professional examined you
- you have medical evidence for your condition
To decide if your condition is fully treated we assess if:
- you’ve received treatment or rehabilitation
- treatment will continue or you have a plan for the next 2 years
To decide if your condition is fully stabilised we assess if:
- treatment will help you work 15 hours or more a week in the next 2 years, or
- there are medical or other reasons why you can’t receive treatment
If your condition is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised, we then assess how your condition impacts your ability to function each day. A health professional does this using Impairment Tables.
There are 15 and they’re used to give an impairment rating that helps us know if you’re eligible for DSP.
You can read more about Impairment Tables on the Department of Social Services website.
You may be medically eligible
You may be medically eligible for DSP if we give an impairment rating of:
- 20 points or more on a single Table
- 20 points or more combined across more than 1 Table - if this is your rating, you also need to have completed a Program of Support
If the Job Capacity Assessment recommends you’re medically eligible, you may also need to attend a Disability Medical Assessment.
You’re not medically eligible
You’re not medically eligible if we assess that your condition:
- isn’t fully diagnosed, treated or stabilised, or
- has an impairment rating of less than 20 points, or
- doesn’t stop you from working 15 hours or more a week in the next 2 years
Example 1 – not fully treated
Brian reduced his hours of work due to a bad hip and has claimed DSP. Brian’s medical evidence shows he’s waiting to have his hip replaced. The operation is in 3 months and his doctor says Brian will need another 3 months to recover. His doctor also recently diagnosed Brian with depression. The clinical psychologist who is now treating Brian, confirmed the diagnosis.
Brian attends a Job Capacity Assessment where the assessor looks at the medical evidence and finds that Brian’s conditions are not fully treated or stabilised because treatment for his conditions is ongoing. Brian is expected to improve within the next 2 years.
Brian isn’t eligible for DSP.
Example 2 – impairment rating of less than 20 points
Natalie is physically fit but has reduced her hours of work due to a mental health condition. She’s received treatment for her condition for many years from her GP and from a clinical psychologist. They both report Natalie’s condition is stable. Natalie’s condition impacts her day to day activities. She finds most activities difficult such as relationships, concentration, completing tasks, planning, decision making and full time work.
Natalie attends a Job Capacity Assessment where the assessor gives her a 10 point impairment rating under Impairment Table 5. Natalie’s impairment rating is less than the 20 points needed to be medically eligible.
Natalie isn’t eligible for DSP.
You need to submit medical evidence if you claim Disability Support Pension (DSP), or have a medical review.
You may need to attend a Job Capacity Assessment for a Disability Support Pension (DSP) claim or medical review.
You may need to attend a Disability Medical Assessment for a Disability Support Pension (DSP) claim or medical review.
You may need to take part in a Program of Support for at least 18 months in the 3 years before you claim Disability Support Pension (DSP).
The payment rates for Disability Support Pension are updated on 20 March and 20 September each year for those 21 years of age and over 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 paid may be affected by your or your partner’s income and assets.
Maximum payment rates of Disability Support Pension if you are 21 years of age or over, or under 21 years of age with children
|Pension rates per fortnight||Single||Couple each||Couple combined||Couple each,
separated due to ill health
|Maximum basic rate||$808.30||$609.30||$1,218.60||$808.30|
|Maximum Pension Supplement||$65.90||$49.70||$99.40||$65.90|
|If you are under 21 years of age with no children||Maximum rate per fortnight|
|single, under 18 years of age, at home||$364.20|
|single, under 18 years of age, independent||$562.20|
|single, 18-20 years of age, at home||$412.80|
|single, 18-20 years of age, independent||$562.20|
|a member of a couple, up to and including 20 years of age||$562.20|
Check if you’re eligible before you start your claim.
- contact the department to discuss claiming Disability Support Pension
- read the conditions for claiming and watch the video
- complete your forms
- obtain medical evidence
- complete the supporting documentation
- submit your claim
- we will then assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
If you want someone else to deal with us, you can authorise them to enquire, act or get payments for you.
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving Disability Support Pension.
If you get Disability Support Pension (DSP), we may review your medical eligibility to make sure you’re still getting the right support.
You may need to participate in activities to help you find and keep work if you’re getting Disability Support Pension (DSP).
You can work up to 30 hours a week and still get Disability Support Pension (DSP). The amount you get depends on how much income you earn.
Read more about the income test for pensions.
If you work more than 30 hours a week
We’ll stop your DSP if you work 30 hours or more a week.
We may be able to start your DSP again if you start working less than 30 hours a week within 2 years of your DSP stopping.
You must let us know if you:
- start work
- your work hours change, or
- your income changes
We’ll tell you if your DSP will change.
Pensioner Concession Card
If your DSP stops, you may have continued access to your Pensioner Concession Card for up to 12 months if:
- you’re working 30 hours or more a week and told us about this change within 14 days, or
- due to your employment income, you get a zero rate of DSP
You may have continued access to your Pensioner Concession Card for up to 12 weeks if your partner’s employment income reduces your DSP to a zero rate.
How much you or your partner earn affects your payment. We need to know what you and your partner earn each fortnight so you're paid the right amount.
You may be eligible to receive part of your income support payment in advance, depending on how long you have been getting it and the amount that you get.
In certain circumstances you may be eligible to get your income support payment weekly, instead of fortnightly.
To get your payment while outside Australia you must continue to meet the qualification rules for Disability Support Pension.
The transitional rate started in 2009 for pensioners who would get a lower rate if we used the new income test.
Each year in August and February we may review your account-based pension, account-based annuity and market-linked income streams.
If you’re getting Disability Support Pension and reach age pension age, you can transfer to Age Pension.
The Australian government is trialling a new way of delivering welfare payments in some areas using a cashless debit card.
You can get help to manage your money if your bank account is overdrawn.
Watch videos featuring our Disability Champions who share their stories and achievements with us.
A program to improve your speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills is available to help you get and keep a job.
Read more about Skills for Education and Employment.
Select the options that describe your circumstances, then explore a list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
- Centrelink online accounts
- Child Dental Benefits Schedule
- Energy Supplement
- Mobility Allowance
- Pension Supplement
- Pensioner Concession Card
- Pensioner Education Supplement
- Pharmaceutical Allowance
- Rent Assistance
- Rent Deduction Scheme
- Schoolkids Bonus
- Skills for Education and Employment
- Telephone Allowance
- Utilities Allowance
- Youth Disability Supplement