Disability Support Pension – Participation Requirements

Many people with disability want to work if they can and gain the significant benefits that come with working, such as stronger skills, improved health and wellbeing, social connectedness, better incomes and higher living standards.

People receiving Disability Support Pension (DSP) may not know about the available assistance from employment services or that they can work and still receive DSP.

Reforms announced in the 2011-12 Budget introduced participation requirements for some DSP recipients designed to support people with disability into work.

New arrangements

New participation requirements come in from 1 July 2012.

The changes affect current and new DSP recipients under age 35 who are assessed as having a work capacity of 8 hours or more a week.

Other DSP recipients can volunteer to participate.

New participation requirements and Service Offer

From 1 July 2012, certain DSP recipients under age 35 are required to attend regular participation interviews and to develop participation plans to help them to build their capacity.  The interviews will be scheduled quarterly for 18 months and then six monthly.

The purpose of the interviews is to identify suitable activities for the DSP recipient that take into account their individual circumstances and barriers to participation.

Information about available supports and services will be provided and participation requirements explained, including the obligation to attend ongoing interviews and to have a signed participation plan.

The participation plan will be individually tailored with the DSP recipient and will include voluntary activities to address vocational and non-vocational barriers.  There will be no obligation to complete the activities but the DSP recipient must attend the regular interviews and must have a signed plan.


Existing DSP recipients affected by the changes will be identified and contacted for an interview progressively commencing 1 July 2012.

DSP recipients granted on or after 1 July 2012 who are affected by the changes will be contacted for an interview shortly after their claim is granted.

Certain DSP recipients will be exempt from the participation requirements.

Interviews will be scheduled at a convenient time for DSP recipients. DSP recipients who are unable to attend a scheduled interview due to health, caring or personal reasons will be able to reschedule the interview.


Exemptions from the participation requirements will apply to DSP recipients who:

  • are aged 35 years or over;
  • are manifestly eligible for DSP;
  • are assessed as having a work capacity of 0-7 hours a week;
  • are employed under the Supported Wage System or in Australian Disability Enterprises; or
  • have a dependent child under the age of six

In addition, certain DSP recipients may be temporarily exempt from participation requirements if they are:

  • working or studying (attendance required at initial interview only);
  • travelling or residing overseas;
  • in psychiatric confinement;
  • unable to meet participation requirements due to illness or accident;
  • pregnant, from six weeks prior to the expected due date until six weeks after the birth of the child; or
  • experiencing special personal circumstances beyond their control.

If a DSP recipient is subject to participation requirements and they are working or studying in an approved course of study, they will have modified participation requirements.  They will be required to attend an initial interview and develop a participation plan but will be exempt from attending ongoing interviews while they are working or studying in an approved course of study.

DSP recipients under age 35 who have not had a recent work capacity assessment may be requested to attend an Employment Services Assessment to determine their work capacity. An assessment undertaken for this purpose will be used to determine whether participation requirements apply to the DSP recipient and will not affect the DSP recipient’s eligibility for payment.

Other reasons for temporary exemptions from the participation requirements may be evident only following an initial interview.  A DSP recipient may be asked to attend an initial interview or may be contacted by telephone to discuss their individual circumstances.

More information

For more information about working while receiving DSP see the Helping People to Work fact sheet.

For more information about DSP participation requirements visit:

Last updated: