3.6.1.12 Qualification for DSP - 15 Hour Rule

Topic applies to

Since 2006, the DSP qualification criteria have undergone a number of changes. This topic summarises these changes and explains which criteria apply to DSP claimants and recipients, dependent on their date of claim or start date on DSP.

Qualification for people whose start date on DSP was prior to 11 May 2005 is covered separately in 3.6.1.10.

Application of the DSP qualification criteria at review is covered in 6.2.5.03.

From 1 July 2012 DSP recipients may continue to receive DSP if they obtain paid work of at least 15 and less than 30 hours a week notwithstanding that to qualify for DSP at claim they must be assessed as having a work capacity of less than 15 hours a week.

Act reference: SSAct section 96 Continuation of DSP

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.6.1.100 Continuation, variation or termination of DSP

Overview of changes to DSP qualifications 2006 - 2015

The impairment criterion which requires that to qualify for DSP a person must have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment that attracts an impairment rating of at least 20 points under the Impairment Tables (1.1.I.10) has not changed in this period.

There have been, however, a number of changes to the CITW (1.1.C.330) criteria since 2006. These changes are summarised below.

Note: People assessed as permanently blind are not subject to the impairment and CITW requirements - see 3.6.2.40.

DSP recipients whose start date on DSP is between 11 May 2005 and 30 June 2006 (transitional recipients) were originally granted DSP under the 30 hour work capacity rule. However, at review, these recipients have their CITW assessed against the CITW criteria and definitions in force from 1 July 2006 that is, they must, among other things, be unable to work for 15 hours or more per week and be unable to be retrained for such work in the next 2 years. This is referred to as 15 hour work capacity rule.

Note: In practice it is unlikely that decision makers would now encounter any cases of transitional recipients that have not already been reviewed.

From 1 July 2006, all DSP claimants and recipients who made, or are taken to have been made, a claim for DSP on or after that date have been, and are being, assessed against the 15 hour work capacity rule.

From 3 September 2011, new DSP claimants:

  • who do not have a severe impairment must demonstrate that they have actively participated in a POS (1.1.A.30), in addition to meeting the other CITW criteria, including the 15 hour rule, and
  • who have a severe impairment (1.1.S.127) are not required to demonstrate that they have actively participated in a POS but are required to meet the other CITW criteria, including the 15 hour rule.

Explanation 1: The POS requirements for DSP claimants apply only to claims lodged on or after 3 September 2011. Any claims lodged before that date, including claims undetermined at that date, do not attract POS requirements.

Explanation 2: Any person who loses DSP eligibility that is not restored as a result of an appropriate review or appeal process and who subsequently reclaims DSP on or after 3 September 2011, is to be assessed under the post 3 September 2011 rules. This means that the POS requirements may apply to this person. This is because any reclaims (notwithstanding reasons for cancellation) are treated as new claims.

From 27 November 2014, to have a CITW, those DSP recipients who at review of their impairment and work capacity qualifications become reviewed 2008-2011 DSP starters (1.1.R.285) and are given an opportunity to participate, are also required to demonstrate that they have actively participated in a POS. This is in addition to the requirement of meeting the other CITW criteria, including the 15 hour work capacity rule.

Explanation: The DSP recipients who at review (first review) become reviewed 2008-2011 DSP starters continue to receive their DSP but are required to participate in a POS. When these recipients have their DSP qualification reviewed again (subsequent review), they will be required to demonstrate that they have actively participated in a POS. At this subsequent review they will also be assessed against the other CITW criteria, including the 15 hour rule (6.2.5.03).

Act reference: SSAct section 94(2) A person has a continuing inability to work…, section 94(3A) If a person is receiving DSP and the Secretary gives the person a notice…

SS(Admin)Act section 12 Deemed claim in certain cases, section 13 Deemed claim-person contacting…, section 15 Deemed claim-incorrect or inappropriate claims…, Schedule 2 clause 4 Start day-early claim

Qualification (1.1.Q.10) criteria

To qualify for DSP, a person must meet the criteria listed in the following table. Where more detail about a criterion is required, the second column indicates where you will find this.

Criterion More Detail
A person must
Be 16 years of age or more, AND  
Satisfy the residence criteria, AND This topic
Be permanently blind (1.1.P.210), OR 3.6.2.40 Assessment of Blindness for DSP
Have a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition resulting in functional impairment (1.1.F.270) of at least 20 points as measured by the Impairment Tables, AND 3.6.2 Assessment for DSP
Meet any participation requirements that apply to the person if the person meets the criteria for participation requirements, such as a compulsory activity. 3.6.1.110 Participation Requirements for DSP Recipients, 3.6.1.120 Participation requirement exemptions for DSP recipients
AND must also meet one of the following requirements
Have a CITW (1.1.C.330), OR 3.6.2 Assessment for DSP, 1.1.A.30 Active participation in a program of support (DSP), 3.6.2.112 DSP Assessment of Continuing Inability to Work - 15 Hour Rule
Be participating in the SWS. 1.1.I.95 Independently of a program of support, 3.6.2.112 DSP Assessment of Continuing Inability to Work - 15 Hour Rule
Person not qualified in certain circumstances
A person is not qualified for DSP if they brought about their CITW with a view to obtaining DSP. This impacts people who brought about a CITW solely with a view to obtaining DSP. It does not impact people who brought about a CITW for other purposes.

Note: When assessing qualification for DSP, the requirement for the person to have an impairment rating of at least 20 points under the Impairment Tables and the requirement for the person to have a CITW, are of equal importance.

Explanation: Some people will have an impairment rating of at least 20 points, but will not be qualified for DSP because they do not have a CITW.

In limited circumstances, a person may be taken to have 20 points under the Impairment Tables and a CITW without further assessment where the available medical evidence indicates clear qualification under one or more of the manifest categories, and if all other DSP qualification criteria are met. This is known as a manifest (1.1.M.30) grant.

Act reference: Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011

SSAct section 94(1) A person is qualified for DSP…, section 94(2) A person has a continuing inability to work…, section 95 Qualification for DSP-permanent blindness

SSAct pre-1 January 2012 Schedule 1B Tables for the assessment of work-related impairment for DSP

SSAct pre-3 September 2011 section 94(1) A person is qualified for DSP…, section 94(2) A person has a continuing inability to work…, section 95 Qualification for DSP-permanent blindness

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.6.2.20 Manifest Grants & Rejections for DSP, 3.6.2.100 DSP Assessment of Impairment Ratings, 3.6.1.110 Participation Requirements for DSP Recipients, 3.6.2.110 DSP Assessment of Continuing Inability to Work - 30 Hour Rule, 3.6.2.112 DSP Assessment of Continuing Inability to Work - 15 Hour Rule, 1.1.R.133 Relevant minimum wage (DSP, MOB, Partial capacity to work & CA)

Proper claim

A person must lodge a proper claim before DSP can be granted. A person cannot lodge a proper claim for DSP if they are over age pension age.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act Part 3 Division 1 Claim for social security payment or concession card

Policy reference: SS Guide 8.1.1 Claim Lodgement Provisions

Residence qualification criteria

To satisfy the residence criteria when claiming DSP, the person must have:

  • been an Australian resident at the time when the CITW or permanent blindness occurred (a person's CITW arises at the time of the incapacitating accident regardless of the age of the person when this occurred. For people with severe congenital abnormalities CITW occurred at birth), OR
  • 10 years of qualifying residence, OR
  • a QRE (i.e. reside in Australia and are either a refugee or a former refugee), OR
  • been born outside Australia and be a dependent child of an Australian resident at the time when the CITW or permanent blindness occurred, and have become an Australian resident while still a dependent child of an Australian resident.

Ten years qualifying residence is satisfied if the person has been an Australian resident for:

  • at least 10 years at any point in the past, OR
  • 2 or more periods that in total exceed 10 years, AND at least one of those periods is of 5 years duration or more.

To remain qualified for DSP, a recipient must be an Australian resident (1.1.A.330) or be exempted from the requirement to be an Australian resident because they are entitled to indefinite portability.

It may also be possible for the person to qualify for DSP under the terms of an international agreement (1.1.A.120). The international agreements are found in the SS(IntAgree)Act.

Act reference: SSAct section 7 Australian residence definitions, section 7(6) A person has a qualifying residence exemption…, section 7(6B) A person is a refugee…, section 94(2) A person has a continuing inability to work…, section 95 Qualification for DSP-permanent blindness, section 1218AA Unlimited portability period for DSP-terminally ill overseas disability support pensioner, section 1218AAA Unlimited portability period for DSP-severely impaired disability support pensioner

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1.10 Residence requirements, 7.1.1.10 Overview of portability legislation, Part 10 Australian Social Security Agreements

Working credit balance prevents loss of qualification

A DSP recipient who has a working credit balance and commences employment on a long term basis which means they no longer meet the CITW criterion, is treated as still being qualified for DSP for the period it takes to run down their working credit balance. This allows the recipient to benefit from their working credit balance - providing encouragement to recipients to take up a job.

This treatment will continue until the earliest of:

  • their working credit balance is reduced to nil, or
  • qualification (other than related to the employment) is lost, or
  • payability (other than related to employment income) is lost.

Note:

  • DSP-permanent blindness recipients can accrue and deplete working credits if their income details are obtained for the purpose of paying RA.
  • Australian Disability Enterprise wages are employment income and any available working credits will be used to offset this employment income under the income test.

Act reference: SSAct section 1073J Working credit balance prevents loss of qualification in certain cases

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.11.30 Working credit depletion

Failure to comply

If a DSP claimant or recipient fails to comply with a notice from Centrelink requesting them to do the following, the pension is not payable:

  • contact a specified officer of the department, OR
  • attend an interview at a specified location, OR
  • complete a questionnaire, OR
  • attend a medical, psychiatric or psychological examination, OR
  • provide a report from a previous examination by a medical practitioner.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 64 Effect of failing to comply with requirement to attend Department etc.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.6.1.90 Notification & Recipient Obligations for DSP, 3.6.2 Assessment for DSP, 6.2.5 Disability & Carer Reviews

Comparable foreign payment (1.1.C.230)

If a person claims DSP and they or their partner may be entitled to a CFP, they are required to take reasonable action to obtain the foreign payment. If they fail to take reasonable action to obtain the CFP within the specified period, their claim may be rejected.

Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 66 Notice to obtain foreign payment, section 40 Rejection of claim for failure to obtain foreign payment

Policy reference: SS Guide Part 7 Portability & comparable foreign payment (CFP)

Last reviewed: 15 August 2016