Disability Support Pension - Better and Fairer assessments 

Key Elements

The Government is introducing improved assessment processes for the DSP and a number of measures to support re-engagement with the workforce.

Differentiated assessment processes

From 1 July 2010, DSP assessment will be simplified to fast-track more claimants who are clearly or manifestly eligible due to a catastrophic, congenital disability or cancer. This will enable them to receive financial support more quickly. Likewise, clients with clear ineligibility for the DSP will be referred to the appropriate income support assessment or employment service mechanism.

The existing eligibility criteria for the DSP remain unchanged.

Enhanced Job Capacity Assessments

In cases which are not clear cut, people will have their eligibility for DSP fully assessed through a comprehensive Job Capacity Assessment undertaken by Senior Job Capacity Assessors. This will make sure claimants are seen by a more experienced assessor and receive a more thorough assessment.

To support Senior Job Capacity Assessors, the Government will:

  • introduce new, clearer guidelines on the assessment of work capacity, including explicit consideration of prior work history and previous access of employment services in determining current capacity to work; and
  • establish new Health Professional Advice Units in Centrelink to give Assessors specialist medical and rehabilitation advice, to complement the claimant’s doctor’s report.

The Government will also provide new payments for claimants’ treating doctors when they provide additional diagnostic or further information on the claimant (with the claimant’s consent) at the request of the Health Professional Advice Unit. The fee will be set at $80 for telephone advice, or $150 for a face to face consultation or the provision of a written report.

Updated impairment tables

The Government will also update the Impairment Tables used for DSP assessments, to make sure they are consistent with contemporary medical and rehabilitation practice. The new Impairment Tables will be developed in consultation with the medical profession and disability stakeholders and are expected to be introduced by 1 January 2012.

Together, these changes would mean an estimated 1,600 people, previously ineligible for DSP, can now be granted the pension each year.

In addition, it is estimated that under improved assessment processes, around 6,500 new DSP claimants each year would not be eligible for the DSP, and will receive more appropriate income support payments such as Newstart Allowance.

Workforce re-engagement contacts

The Government will pilot a new workforce re-engagement contact strategy through Centrelink for new entrants onto the DSP. Through this pilot, Centrelink will contact those newly granted the DSP to:

  • determine the most appropriate time and method for successfully encouraging re engagement in the workforce, including face-to-face interviews, telephone canvassing and group information sessions; and
  • make clearer the assistance and incentives available, the tapered withdrawal of income support, and the workforce re-entry suspension provisions.

This additional support will be provided to around 16,000 new DSP entrants each year, providing them with the assistance and confidence to successfully re-engage with the workforce and to participate more fully in community life.

Improved information for DSP recipients

Centrelink will also provide better information about specialist disability employment services to around 40,000 DSP recipients each year that take up work. This information will assist recipients to stay in the workforce longer when they do re-engage.

National communication strategy

A national communication strategy will be implemented to promote the participation of people with disability and increase community awareness.

Background

Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a payment made to people with disability who are unable to work for at least 15 hours per week at or above the relevant minimum wage, or be re-skilled for such work, for more than two years because of their disability.

Job Capacity Assessors provide assessments to Centrelink to assist them to determine eligibility for the Disability Support Pension, activity test requirements for Newstart Allowance clients and make referrals to services such as Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) funded employment services.

Implementation

Most elements of the measure will commence from 1 July 2010, except for the updated Impairment Tables which are expected to be introduced by 1 January 2012.

Key stakeholders, including disability and welfare advocacy groups, as well as the medical profession will be consulted during the implementation process.

Implementation of this measure within government will be overseen by an inter-agency group comprising FaHCSIA, the Department of Human Services, DEEWR and Centrelink.

Total Government Funding

This measure delivers a net saving of $7.2 million over the four years.

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