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Understanding the Disability Support Pension

For many individuals with disabilities, financial assistance is crucial in managing daily life and maintaining independence. The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a vital income support payment in Australia, designed to assist those aged 16 to 64 who face challenges in securing employment due to their disability. This blog delves into the intricacies of the DSP, its eligibility criteria, the benefits it offers, and additional support available for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Disability Support Pension

What is the Disability Support Pension (DSP)?

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a means-tested income support payment that helps recipients meet everyday living costs. It is available to individuals aged 16 and over but under the Age Pension age at the time of the claim. To qualify, recipients must have a reduced capacity to work due to their disability.

Eligibility Criteria for DSP

To be eligible for the DSP, applicants must meet both non-medical and medical criteria.

Non-Medical Criteria:

  1. Age: Applicants must be between 16 and the Age Pension age.

  2. Residency: Applicants must have been an Australian resident for at least 10 years, either consecutively or cumulatively, with at least five years in a row.

  3. Income and Assets Test: Applicants must meet specific income and asset limits to qualify. The limits vary based on living situations and family status.

Medical Criteria:

  1. Manifest Conditions: Certain conditions automatically qualify for DSP without further assessment, such as permanent blindness, terminal illness with less than two years of life expectancy, and intellectual disability with an IQ below 70.

  2. General Medical Rules: Conditions must be fully diagnosed, treated, and stabilised, and expected to persist for at least two years. Applicants must also have an impairment rating of at least 20 points based on the Impairment Tables.

Understanding Impairment Tables

The Impairment Tables assess the impact of a condition on an individual’s ability to work. They assign points based on the severity of the impairment:

  • 0 points: No impairment

  • 5 points: Mild impairment

  • 10 points: Moderate impairment

  • 20 points: Severe impairment

  • 30 points: Extreme impairment

Applicants with 20 points in a single table are eligible for DSP. Those with 20 points across multiple tables must also meet the Program of Support requirements, which involve participating in job training programs.

The DSP Application Process

Applying for DSP involves several steps:

  1. Initial Assessment: Determine eligibility based on non-medical criteria.

  2. Medical Assessment: Provide detailed medical evidence from healthcare professionals.

  3. Impairment Rating: Undergo an assessment using the Impairment Tables.

  4. Program of Support: Participate in employment programs if required.

Applicants can apply online via their myGov account, by phone, or in person at a Centrelink service centre. Supporting documents such as medical records, financial statements, and employment history are necessary to complete the application.

Financial Benefits of DSP

The amount of DSP payment depends on the recipient’s living situation and income. As of now, the maximum rate for a single adult is $944.30 per fortnight, which includes the basic rate, pension supplement, and energy supplement. Couples and younger adults may receive different amounts based on their circumstances.

Additional Financial Assistance for People with Disability

Apart from DSP, individuals with disabilities may be eligible for other forms of financial assistance:

Mobility Allowance: Helps with transport costs for those unable to use public transport without assistance. With the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), eligibility for the Mobility Allowance has decreased.

Support for Carers: Various payments are available for those caring for individuals with disabilities:

The Size and Demographics of the DSP Population

As of March 2023, around 769,000 people aged 16 and over received DSP, with 645,000 aged 16-64. The DSP is one of the most prevalent income support payments in Australia, second only to unemployment benefits for this age group.

Trends and Changes in DSP

Over the years, eligibility criteria for DSP have tightened, resulting in fluctuating recipient numbers. Policy changes and the increasing qualifying age for the Age Pension have significantly influenced DSP trends.


The Disability Support Pension plays a crucial role in providing financial stability for individuals with disabilities, enabling them to meet daily living costs and maintain their independence. Understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and additional support options is essential for those seeking DSP.

At My Companionship, we are dedicated to assisting individuals with disabilities and their caregivers in navigating these complexities to ensure they receive the support they need. If you or a loved one may be eligible for DSP, don't hesitate to reach out for guidance and assistance.


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