Your Rights At Centrelink

For any questions about the Disability Support Pension, the Carers Payment, or the Mobility Allowance, please click here to contact our DSP Officer.

For all other Centrelink information, contact your local National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN) legal centre. These centres are government-funded and will typically assist with Centrelink matters, not with matters to do with your job provider.

NSSRN guide: takes you through the criteria for eligibility for the disability support pension and what evidence is required when you are appealing a decision rejecting your claim for the disability support pension. It also includes an example doctor letter.

Important! Contact our DSP Officer before filling out your application.

DSP: Frequently Asked Questions

Which form(s) do I use?

  • The application form can be downloaded from the Department of Human Services website.
    • Important: Contact our DSP Officer before filling out your application.
    • If you get anything wrong upfront, it will be a lot more difficult to amend later and get a successful application
    • The form is more than 30 pages. You’ll want to know what you are doing before you start!

How can I apply for the Disability Support Pension after 1 July 2015 and what is considered?

  • If you need assistance to fill in the application for the DSP, ask a friend, relative or an advocate to assist you.
  • Consider each question one at a time. In other words think about what the question is asking you. It will say list your disabilities/illnesses, injuries, medical conditions. Here is your chance to list them all. Yes! All of them. Do not leave any out.
  • Start with the one that affects you the most.
    • For example slipped discs, Multiple Sclerosis (examples only).
  • If you find there is not enough room on the form, that’s alright, just add another page. If you do add another page, make sure you number the question that you are answering. For example, Question 6 of Page 9.
  • Make sure you include all the medical reports that you wish to rely on. Also include, for example:
    • letters from Social Workers etc
    • GP & Specialist Reports
    • test results
    • click here to download a template letter to send to your doctors, to ask for their help
      • Note: it is important they fill out the form in just the right way. For example, for the purposes of applying the Tables:
        “most” means more than 50%
        if there are three examples in the descriptor, “most” means two
        if there are four examples in the descriptor, “most” means three
        if there are six examples in the descriptor, “most” means four
  • When you have filled in the form, make a copy of the entire application and all the documents that you have included with it. Again, the entire application, that includes the first page to the last.
  • Do not send originals, ONLY copies.
    • We suggest you send your application by registered mail and track its delivery.
    • Get a confirmation signature to prove that delivery did in fact get to the Department.
  • tick… tock…

    Now sit and wait.

    • Do not expect a reply within two weeks or even months.
    • After you have confirmed that your application has been delivered, wait another 30 days (or so). Then you can call DHS and ask them if they received your application, and ask about the status of that application. Often they have received the application, but have not yet entered it onto their system. They will be able to tell you this.
    • DHS can take months before they decide about your application.
  • They might require you to be assessed by a DMA (Disability Medical Assessment).
    • You will not require an assessment if it is obvious on the face of the records/paper work that you will be eligible for the DSP. For example, you might be permanently blind, have a manifest disability etc.

What will they consider to see if I am eligible for the DSP?

  • To be eligible for the DSP you will need the following and you must meet ALL the criteria, not just one or the other.
  • Medical Criteria s. 94 of the Social Security Act says a person is qualified for the DSP if:
    • (a) The person has a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairments: and
    • The Person’s impairment is of 20 points or more under the Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-Related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011 (The impairment Tables); and
    • The person has a continuing inability to work.
  • In accordance with s. 94 of the Act, you are regarded as having a CITW if:
    • You have an inability to work due to your accepted impairments for 15 hours or more a week; and
    • You have actively participated in a Program of Support (POS).
    • You will not be required to meet the POS if you have an impairment of 20 or more points under a single Impairment Table.
  • NOTE: Everyone who applies for the DSP meets the first criteria; why else would they apply for the DSP?

Where can you get a copy of the Impairment Tables, and what are they?

For a copy of the Tables, click here

    • These Tables commenced 1 January 2012.
    • If you get 20 points, you must also meet the third criteria of having a CITW. This means that you are unable to work for at least 15 hours or more per week within the next 2 years.
    • The definition of “work” means
      • (a) At least 15 hours per week on wages that are at or above the minimum wage: and
      • (b) That exists in Australia, even if not within the person’s locally accessible labour market.
    • DHS will try to argue that you do not satisfy s94 (1) (b) of the Act, and you do not have a CITW as you have not actively participated in a POS,  a requirement under s 94(2) (a) of the Act.
  • The focus is on your level of functioning and not so much on your symptoms.
    • You will only be given points to impairment if your condition causing that impairment is permanent, and that the impairment results from a condition that is more likely than not to persist for more than 2 years.
    • In other words, how does this condition/s affect your ability to function?
    • Can you get out of bed, does any of the medication you are on affect your functioning? You could be undergoing treatment, taking medications that have serious side effects and this affects your ability to function. The treatment, medications could also be causing you excessive drowsiness etc.
  • A condition will only be given points if it is considered to be fully diagnosed, treated and stabilized (FDTS).
    • In other words, your condition/s is not going to improve within the next 2 years. It is more than likely going to persist more than 2 years.
    • You have tried all reasonable treatments and that’s it! If you are on a waiting list of a year or more, your condition could also be considered FDTS.
    • For example if your specialist says you will require surgery, your condition has not been FDTS, so that impairment will not be given any points. It will not be given any points as it has not been FDTS. In other words this has not yet been considered permanent.
    • If your Doctor says they want you to try this new medication. Again, your condition may not be considered FDTS.
  • Assuming you do have the 20 points under the tables and those points are given under a single Impairment Table, you will not be required to participate in a (POS) as your condition is considered to be severe within the meaning of s 94 (3B). That is this condition/s prevents you from working 8 hours or more per week in the next 2 years, and benefiting from any training etc.
    • You will, however, need to meet the requirement of being unable to work 15 hours or more per week in the open market without any assistance or that you do require assistance for the next 2 years (more on this later).
  • If you do not receive 20 points under one Table, then you will be required to have participated in a Program of Support (POS). That is because you have been assessed as not having a severe impairment.
    • Next they look to see, does this condition prevent you from undertaking any work, study of 15 hours or more per week for the next 2 years without any support, assistance? This is referred to as the CITW (Continuing Inability to Work).
    • That is, do you have an inability to work in a Program of Support within the next 2 years because of your impairments, or undertaking training within the next 2 years, or such activity is unlikely because of your impairment to enable you to work independently of a Program of Support within the next 2 years.
    • If the answer is yes, you will be unable to undertake any activity for 15 hours or more per week, for the next 2 years due to your condition/s, and then you would meet those criteria.

How is my eligibility for DSP decided?

  • There are a number of different factors used to determine this, and a lot of factors are disregarded. Some of the ones that are disregarded are:
    • Impairments that have not been given a rating under the Tables;
      • A rating will not be given if the condition/s is not FDTS. It will get no points.
    • The availability of work in the person’s locally accessible labour market (s 94(3) (b);
    • The person’s motivation to work/train, except when your medical evidence indicates that the lack of your motivation is directly attributable to the impairment;
    • The person’s preference regarding the type of work/training;
    • The person’s potential attractiveness to an employer in a particular area of work or employer preferences and discriminatory practices that exist in the open labour maker, including the willingness or otherwise or employers to engage people with disabilities;
    • The existence of a benign employer of sheltered or special employment, that is, only the regular workplace is considered.

What is a Job Capacity Assessment?

  • You may be required to participate in a JCA (Job Capacity Assessment).
  • This is used to determine your eligibility for the DSP.
  • This is usually undertaken by an Occupational Therapist, Psychologist, Doctor, and/or an Allied Health Professional.
  • During the assessment they will ask you a series of questions. Some typical questions are:
    • What have you been mostly doing in the last 2 years?
    • In your most recent job, how many hours did you mostly work?
      • Remember this means your most recent, that is last week, the last time you actually did work.
    • Have you done any paid work at all in the last 2 years?
    • What is the highest level of education that you completed?
    • Do you think any of these could be work related?
      • In other words if you have completed a course in computing, do you think those skills learnt could be useful in the work.
    • Can you still use any of those skills now?
    • What is preventing you from using these skills?
      • For example, you have severe arthritis, or you are no longer able to sit for long periods of time at a desk.
    • Can you read English?
      • They are asking how well you can do this. Can you read fluently, can you read basic words, are you unable to read at all?
    • Do you write English well?
      • As above.
    • Work Capacity, do you have any disabilities or medical conditions that affect the hours you are able to work?
      • Here they are asking you to tell them how many hours you think you could work in a typical week.
        • It may be you can only work short bursts at a time. Your assessment for DSP is based on Bandwidths. In other words, can you really perform a task for more than 2 or 3 hours without requiring a break from it?
        • Can you really do a task repetitively over a course of many hours each day for a week?
      • Do you have any disabilities that affect the type of work that you do?
      • It could be you are not able to work in a brightly lit environment, or a room with air conditioners, heaters, or a noisy environment, you may not be able to do a job that requires sitting more than 30 minutes or at all. On the other hand you may not be able to stand for length periods of time. You may be required to take a nap every hour due to your disability etc (examples only).
      • How long has the condition/s affected your ability to work?
    • These are just a few of the possible questions.
    • They are looking to see what impact the medical conditions that you listed on your DSP application have on your ability to engage in work and to see if you would benefit from any work or training etc.

Paperwork is very important. Make sure you keep copies of ALL paperwork you send in.

Remember, you have the right to appeal a decision. You have 13 weeks from the date of the decision to appeal.