Disabled face loss of benefits for compliance failures

October 08, 2014 12:00AM

The Australian

THE tough new rules targeting people under 35 on the disability support pension mean their payments will be either suspended or cancelled if they fail to comply with strict eligibility rules.

Welfare Rights will today put out an analysis of the changes that passed the Senate last week that shows for the first time since Australia introduced social security assistance for people with disabil­ities early last century that people receiving the DSP will knock up against a tough compliance ­regime.

And the government has plans to make a tough penalty system even tougher, with its Strengthening the Job Seeker Compliance Framework Bill, which is being investigated by a senate committee.

National Welfare Rights Network president Maree O’Halloran said: “New jobseeker compliance arrangements will now apply to people with disabilities. Their payments will be either suspended or cancelled if they don’t attend a participation interview, do not enter a compulsory agreement or if they fail to undertake a compulsory activity.”

People who fail to comply for a third time within a 12-month ­period will have DSP payments cancelled. They will be forced to reapply under the tougher 2012 Impairment Tables, which make it much harder to get on the DSP.

Information also released by the Department of Social Services reveals that almost half of those targeted for DSP medical reviews — also a 2014-15 budget measure — have a psychiatric or psychological disability. Senate estimates hearings revealed that 48 per cent, or 13,350, of people picked for a medical review had a psychological or psychiatric condition as their primary disability.

A spokeswoman for Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews confirmed that a participation plan had to include a compulsory work-focused activity.

The spokeswoman said: “The Abbott government was able to begin this measure on July 2014 because of changes legislated by the Gillard Labor Party in July 2012.

“The Labor Party legislated for DSP recipients under 35 years who have a capacity of eight or more hours a week to take up participation plans. However, the participation plans had no compulsory activities”.