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‘Crackdown’ on the Disability Support Pension Passes

23 November 2011 at 2:27 pm
Staff Reporter
The Gillard Government’s controversial changes to the Social Security Act – which includes changes to the Impairment Tables used to determine eligibility for the Disability Support Pension - have passed through Parliament.

Staff Reporter | 23 November 2011 at 2:27 pm


‘Crackdown’ on the Disability Support Pension Passes
23 November 2011 at 2:27 pm

The Gillard Government’s controversial changes to the Social Security Act – which includes changes to the Impairment Tables used to determine eligibility for the Disability Support Pension – have passed through Parliament.

With the legislation passing through the Senate with coalition backing, people who apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) from the 1st January 2012 will be assessed under the new Impairment Tables.

The Impairment Tables are used in Disability Support Pension assessments to measure how a person's impairment affects their ability to work, and were last reviewed in 1993.

The government unveiled its plan to get people off the Disability Support Pension and into the workforce in July, revealing that the number of people receiving the DSP had reached 800,000, growing by 100,000 over the last 2 years alone. The changes to the Impairment Tables are estimated to save the government $35 million a year.

The Gillard Government said the legislation will ensure the Impairment tables “are able to be updated regularly and enable the introduction of new Tables that are consistent with modern medical and rehabilitation practice.”

The Gillard government said the new tables “focus on what people are able to do, rather than what they can’t do”, however this has not stopped criticism of the changes.

The Greens say the government and coalition have united in supporting changes to the Social Security Act that are likely to lead to deeply unjust outcomes for vulnerable people.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said her party supports efforts to assist people into the workforce, however the changes will push large numbers of people with disabilities onto the Newstart allowance, a payment wich is $131 a week below the DSP.

It has been estimated that as many as four out of every ten people who qualified for the Disability Support Pension earlier this year would not qualify under the new regime which is set to come into effect in 2012.

“As well as less financial assistance, people will be forced to meet stricter activity requirements in a deeply inhospitable labour market,” Siewert Said.

Siewert says other changes to the Social Security Act will hurt children.

“The introduction of participation plans for young parents and teenager mothers is also concerning, with the prospect their parenting payments may be suspended if they do not comply.”

The Greens said that the Government should be helping people to overcome the obstacles they face to participation or finding work- including a lack of child care and poor access to public transport – instead of focusing on punitive measures.

The Advisory Committee’s review of the Disability Support Pension Impairment Tables and recommended new Tables can be viewed at

*Slideshow Flickr image: Some rights reserved by indrarado 

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  • Margaret Cook says:

    The issues are that the changes will affect the way our workplaces will have to accept people who have a disability into the work setting. I hope they can accommodate them and make reasonable adjustments according to the United Nations principles in a work place setting.
    With still a resistance to employing people who also have a mental illness in the workplace will also present a challenge when this rule comes in. Many a case has been in front of the courts over decades of discrimination against people who have a mental illness.
    Of course there is a solution to the above situation and that’s peoples own enterprise there are many examples overseas and in NSW and in Australia that could be looked at.
    This is all I am going to address on this issue for now I could say a lot more but for now this is enough to give a brief outline of some of the impacts of the new rules on human beings.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is another example of broken promises by the Gillard debacle they call a Government; offer a disability insurance scheme on one hand and then basically change the rules early so when it eventually all happens, no one will qualify. Bring on an ELECTION !!

  • Anonymous says:

    I have applied for disability pension ,and have been rejected ,as I only get 15 points for 1 of my health problems,but I Have many health problems.The new impairment tables come in January ,so why am I being assessed on those tables now when I put my claim in August.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am one of those ‘vulnerable’ people being affected by this change. I have been on a Disability support pension for 11 years and am only 33. I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, so life consits of pain, lots of pain relief and huge medical bills. My monetary benefit from centrelink is minimal ($27/fn) but without my DSP card my medical bills would be tens of thousands of dollars a year. I have done what the govenment wants and found a job to accomodate my many limitations, checked with centrelink to make sure I was within the parameters and now because my employer made a mistake with my pay, have been cut off completely, and advised by the call centre that it is an irreversable decision. Leaving me unable to pay my medical bills and therefore having to cease employment, as it is an aggravating factor to my condition. Kudos to Gillard and Centrelink.

  • nina says:

    i am a disabled person who has 10 points for each of my disabilities.under the old system they could all be added togeather to make a minimum of 20 points.But now according to this new imparment criteria i do not qualify for a pension.As i am not disabled enought.
    so onto newstart for me ,below poverty line,and made to look for work that i cant do.
    figure that one out .

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