Changes to Disability Support Pensioners Working Hours Introduced into Parliament
Thursday, 16th February 2012 at 9:39 am
The Federal Government has introduced further reforms to the Disability Support Pension (DPS) allowing people with disabilities to work twice as many hours.
The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Disability Support Pension Participation Reforms) Bill 2012 introduces new participation requirements for Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients who have some capacity to work.
In November 2011, the Gillard Government introduced its 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.
People who apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) from the 1st January 2012 are 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 says the latest Bill introduces more generous rules to allow DSP recipients to work up to 30 hours a week and continue to receive a part-pension, subject to income and assets testing.
From 1 July this year:
- DSP recipients aged under 35 years with some capacity to work will be required to attend regular participation interviews with Centrelink to develop participation plans, to help build their capacity and overcome barriers to work; and
- All DSP recipients will be able to work up to 30 hours a week without their payment being suspended or cancelled, subject to the income test. Currently DSP recipients granted after 11 May 2005 can only work up to 15 hours a week before their payment is suspended or cancelled. These people find it difficult to find work that is limited to only 15 hours a week and many want to work more hours.
The government says that this is an important change that will give people with disability the security they need to test their ability to work more hours, without worrying about losing qualification for the disability pension.
It says this will encourage an estimated 4,000 DSP recipients to take up work, and an estimated 3,900 DSP recipients who are already employed to work extra hours.
In addition to these changes to the DSP, the Government says it is delivering extra support for people with disability, including more employment services and new financial incentives for employers to take on more people with disability.
The Government says it will also ensure the DSP continues to be an essential safety net for Australians who are unable to work.
The Bill also introduces new rules from 1 July that allow DSP recipients who have a severe and permanent disability and no future work capacity to travel overseas for more than 13 weeks while retaining access to their pension.