The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Disability support pension (DSP) - description

Objective of DSP

DSP is an income support payment (1.1.I.80) for people who are unable to work (1.1.W.60) due to physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairments which will persist for more than 2 years.

Act reference: SSAct section 23(1)-'income support payment'

Supplementary assistance

DSP recipients MAY also receive:

  • mobility allowance
  • rent assistance
  • pension supplement (see Note 1)
  • remote area allowance
  • pensioner concession card
  • youth disability supplement
  • PhA, TAL and UA (see Note 2)
  • incentive allowance
  • APWS for recipients participating in the following activities: WFD, NWEP, RYLDC (Youth Corps), or CDP (former RJCP) structured activities
  • crisis payment
  • pensioner education supplement
  • education entry payment
  • energy supplement.

Note 1: DSP recipients who are over 21 or are under 21 and have dependent children, may be eligible for pension supplement.

Note 2: DSP recipients who are under 21 and without dependent children, may be eligible for PhA, TAL and UA.

Bereavement payment provisions

The surviving member of a couple (1.1.M.120) may be eligible for bereavement payments following the death of a partner (1.1.P.85).

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.5 Bereavement payment provisions

How DSP is paid

DSP is paid fortnightly.

Background information

DSP was formerly known as invalid pension until 12 November 1991.

From 1 July 2006 eligibility criteria for DSP changed so that a person capable of working 15 hours or more per week is no longer qualified for DSP. Grandfathering provisions exist for people who were receiving DSP on 10 May 2005 and these recipients remain qualified for payment if their impairment/s prevents them from working 30 hours or more per week.

From 3 September 2011, new DSP claimants who do not have a severe impairment (1.1.S.127) must demonstrate that they have actively participated in a POS (1.1.P.440) in addition to satisfying the other CITW (1.1.C.330) eligibility criteria for DSP.

From 1 January 2012, Impairment Tables were used for the assessment of new DSP claims and reviews, focusing on how a person's impairment affects their ability to work.

From 1 July 2012 certain DSP recipients under age 35 with some capacity to work are subject to participation requirements as part of qualification for DSP.

Also 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. Prior to 1 July 2012 DSP recipients granted on or after 11 May 2005 and transitional DSP recipients had their payments suspended or cancelled if they were working 15 hours a week or more.

From 27 November 2014, DSP recipients who at review of their impairment and work capacity qualifications for the payment become reviewed 2008-2011 DSP starters are also subject to the requirement of having actively participated in a POS (1.1.A.30).

From 1 April 2023, revised Impairment Tables (1.1.I.10) were introduced and are used for the assessment of new DSP claims made on or after that date and reviews commenced on or after that date.

Explanation 1: Generally, a DSP recipient will become a reviewed 2008-2011 DSP starter as a result of the targeted review (commenced on 1 July 2014) of DSP recipients under age of 35 who were granted the payment between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2011.

Explanation 2: A DSP recipient can, however, also become a reviewed 2008-2011 DSP starter as a result of any other DSP review that involves reassessment of their impairment and work capacity, such as random sample surveys or medical qualification updates ( as long as certain conditions in relation to the review, the recipient and the payment are met. These conditions are summarised in 1.1.R.285.

Act reference: SSAct section 94 Qualification for DSP, section 94A Participation requirements, section 94B Participation plans, section 96 Continuation of DSP

Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2023

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for DSP - 15 hour rule, Qualification for DSP - 30 hour rule, DSP assessment of continuing inability to work - 15 hour rule, 3.6.3 Guidelines to the Tables for the assessment of work-related impairment for DSP, DSP - current rates, Participation requirements for DSP recipients, Continuation, variation or termination of DSP

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