Review of the Disability Support Pension Impairment Tables

Introduction and Scope of the Review

The Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011 (the Impairment Tables) sunset on 1 April 2023. The Impairment Tables contains 15 individual Tables used to assess a person’s functional impairment and its effect on their ability to work.

Sunsetting is the automatic repeal of legislative instruments after a fixed period. Without an instrument in place, there is no legal basis to assess and grant DSP to new applicants.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) conducted a review of the Impairment Tables before making a new instrument. The scope of the review was limited to the Determination, and not broader DSP policy to ensure new Impairment Tables were in place by 1 April 2023.

DSS noted issues raised by stakeholders outside the scope of the review and this feedback may be used in future policy development.

The new Impairment Tables, the Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2023, commenced on 1 April 2023.

The new Tables apply to all new DSP claimants and, any existing DSP recipients selected for medical review, where the notice of review is issued on or after 1 April 2023. The random selection of current recipients for review is an existing arrangement. No changes to the policy of reviewing recipients of DSP are being made as part of this process.

Stakeholder Consultation

The review included consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. These include disability peak bodies, medical professionals, Services Australia staff, and people with lived experience of the DSP process.

Consultations were multi-phased allowing feedback on both the 2011 Determination and Exposure Draft of the Determination. Where appropriate consent was provided, DSS published feedback on the Exposure Draft on the department's Engage page at Responses to our Questionnaire |

Targeted consultation with medical experts took place to ensure wording used is consistent with current medical terminology and assessments. This also ensured each rating level of the Tables represents the appropriate level of functional impact.

The Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, also held a roundtable with senior representatives from disability peak body groups. This allowed the Minister to hear about the challenges people face with the Impairment Tables, drawing on their experience and expertise to inform changes to the new Impairment Tables.

Changes to the Tables

The Impairment Tables were last reviewed in 2011, when a large scale review was undertaken by an advisory committee. The 2011 review changed the focus of the Tables from a condition based assessment to a function-based assessment of a person’s ability to work.

The 2023 review built on the 2011 review and focussed on making practical amendments to improve clarity and consistency across the Tables, and address advances in medical technology and terminology.

Changes made to the Impairment Tables following the review are at Table of changes to the Impairment Tables.

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