4.14.2 Eligibility of the Principal Beneficiary of a Special Disability Trust


This section contains information on how to determine whether a person is eligible for the means test concessions for special disability trusts.


This section contains information on the following:

  • overview,
  • definition of a person with severe disability, and
  • type of income support payment.


A person does not need to be in receipt of an income support payment for a special disability trust to be established for their care and accommodation needs. However, before a special disability trust can be established the person needs to establish that they meet the definition of severe disability.

Explanation: A person can have assets that exceed the limit for payment of income support or they may be unable to access payment for other qualification reasons. This does not stop them from meeting the eligibility criteria of a person with severe disability for special disability trust purposes.

Example 1: Jane has received a lump sum compensation settlement and is not receiving any income support payments due to a preclusion period. However, she meets all eligibility criteria of a person with severe disability. Although Jane does not receive income support payments during the preclusion period, her parents establish a special disability trust to assist in paying for her care needs.

Example 2: James is currently in prison or psychiatric confinement (in connection with a criminal charge). James meets all the eligibility criteria of a person with severe disability. His grandparents establish a special disability trust for him to assist with his future care and accommodation needs.

Definition of a severe disability

To be eligible to be a principal beneficiary of a special disability trust, a person has a severe disability if:

  • a person has reached 16 years of age:
    • whose level of impairment would qualify the person for DSP or who is already receiving a DVA invalidity service pension or DVA invalidity ISS, and
    • who has a disability that would, if the person had a sole carer, qualify the carer for CP or CA or the person is living in an institution, hostel or group home in which care is provided for people with disabilities, and for which funding is provided (wholly or partly) under an agreement between the Commonwealth and state/territory governments, and
    • who has a disability as a result of which he or she has no likelihood of working for more than 7 hours a week for a wage that is at or above the relevant minimum wage, OR
  • a person under 16 years of age who was a principal beneficiary and who is a profoundly disabled child as defined in SSAct section 197(1) immediately before 1 July 2009, OR
  • a person under 16 years of age:
    • who is a person with a severe disability or a severe medical condition, and
    • whose carer has been given a qualifying rating of intense under the Disability Care Load Assessment (Child) Determination for caring for the child, and
    • who a treating health professional has certified in writing that, because of that disability or condition: the person will need personal care for 6 months or more, and the personal care is required to be provided by a specified number of persons.

Note: An agreement between the Commonwealth and state/territory government for special disability trust purposes includes the:

  • National Disability Agreement,
  • Intergovernmental Agreement for the NDIS launch,
  • National Partnership Agreement on trial of My Way sites,
  • National Health Reform Agreement.

Act reference: SSAct section 197(1) Definitions, section 1209M Beneficiary requirements

Social Security (Special Disability Trust Beneficiary Requirements) Nomination of Agreement Instrument 2015

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.S.130 Severe medical condition (CP (child)), 1.1.S.133 Severe disability

Type of income support payment

A special disability trust and the assessment of the trust, including any means test concessions are not related in any way to the type of income support payment the principal beneficiary receives now or in the future. Eligibility is based on the principal beneficiary having an impairment that would qualify the beneficiary for DSP or the corresponding DVA payment, and has no relationship to the type of payment being received.

Example: John's parents established a special disability trust for him when he was 55 years old. At that time he was in receipt of DSP. John is now 65 years old and is transferring to Age. The special disability trust continues to pay for his care and accommodation needs and the means test concessions continue to apply.

Last reviewed: 20 September 2018