Your Disability Support Pension (DSP) questions answered

27 August 2020


Is the Disability Support Pension (DSP) an important income stream for Australians with disability? Yes!

It is a bit confusing at times? Also yes.

Over the past few months, we’ve noticed a lot of people asking questions about the Disability Support Pension (DSP) – especially when the government talks income support and financial help for people affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve taken your questions, put our heads together and come up with some answers.


The most common Disability Support Pension (DSP) questions

What is the Disability Support Pension (DSP)?

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a payment from the Australian Government designed to help people with a permanent disability who are unable to work due to their disability.

It’s income support and to help cover living costs such as food, clothes and other day to day expenses.

Like other pensions, it comes in the form of a fortnightly from Services Australia (formally Centrelink).


How much is the Disability Support Pension (DSP)?

How much someone receives under the Disability Support Pension (DSP) is something that will largely depend on your circumstances.

The maximum an individual over the age of 21 can receive, including the pension supplement and the energy supplement is $944.30 a fortnight* (yes, you read that right). As we wrote about in our DSP myths blog – it really isn’t a lot of money and is why it is so important that people understand their eligibility and any changes to the DSP.


Is there a disability support calculator?

Working out how much someone is likely to receive under the Disability Support Pension (DSP) is tricky. As far as we know, there is no easy calculator to work this out, but you can find all the information on the Services Australia website.


How do I get the Disability Support Pension (DSP)?

To get the Disability Support Pension (DSP), you need to meet some specific criteria and go through some assessments - some of it is medically related, and some isn’t. The process essentially involves Services Australia looking at things like the details of your disability, your age, your income, your assets and residency status.

As we covered in our DSP myths blog, many people are surprised to find out that not all people with a disability are eligible to receive the DSP. It all comes down to whether you meet the criteria at the time.

To get the ball rolling on an application, head along to the Services Australia website.


Why is it so hard to get the Disability Support Pension (DSP)?

Anyone who’s ever had to apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) can tell you that it’s not easy! You need to pull together a lot of documentation and evidence, all the while navigating a vast, bureaucratic government department.

It’s worth noting that around a third of DSP applications get knocked back.

We often hear of people talking about how getting the DSP is a lot harder than it used to be, and there is some truth to this. Two decades of changes to the system have resulted in a tightening of the eligibility criteria.

Hang in there though.

It is possible and is generally well worth it – it’s just that there are a lot of paper work aka boxes to tick along the way.


Coronavirus and the Disability Support Pension (DSP)

Is the Disability Support Pension (DSP) going up like the other Centrelink payments?

Anyone using Services Australia (Centrelink) will know that the last few months have been a wild ride. As the federal government was announcing their support to groups in need, it had many people who receive the Disability Support Pension (DSP) holding their breath. Unfortunately, the payment did not increase in any kind of substantial way. People receiving the DSP were eligible to receive two one-off payments of $750, but there was no actual increase to the fortnightly pension amount.

It would be unlikely for the government to be substantially increasing the DSP any time soon, but we can always hold out hope and keep advocating for a more livable pension.


Am I better off under the Disability Support Pension (DSP) or JobSeeker?

For a brief while it was possible to receive more from Services Australia (Centrelink) if you were on JobSeeker than it was if you were on the Disability Support Pension (DSP). This is because of the extra funding the government made available to people who were unemployed during the pandemic. This extra funding came in the form of a coronavirus supplement, which essentially doubled the JobSeeker amount.

From September onwards, the government will be reducing the JobSeeker payments. This means that once again, most people would be slightly better off financially on the DSP.


What should I consider if I want to apply for JobSeeker?

For anyone considering going to JobSeeker, there are some important things to consider.

Firstly, JobSeeker is for people looking for work and applying for jobs.

Secondly, the DSP is notoriously hard to get, and if you decide to go off the DSP to go to a different payment such as JobSeeker and then you change your mind, you will need to apply for the DSP all over again. If you were eligible once, it doesn’t always mean you will be eligible again. The rules can change and tighten over time.

And thirdly, people who receive the DSP are eligible for other entitlements (like concession cards etc) so you may also lose those entitlements by applying for JobSeeker.

If you are unsure, please speak to Service Australia they provide good advice (even if you must wait on the phone for ages!)


What about the Disability Support Pension and JobKeeper?

JobKeeper is something that the federal government introduced to help the nation through the coronavirus. JobKeeper and the Disability Support Pension have a somewhat complicated relationship. The Government created this really great easy read resource to help you make sense of what this means.

Contact us to find out how we can support you


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