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Government’s Plan to Cut Disability Support Pension Backfires

26 October 2018 at 3:14 pm
Luke Michael
The federal government is ditching controversial plans to review the eligibility of 90,000 people on the Disability Support Pension after only a tiny fraction of recipients were found not to qualify for the payment.

Luke Michael | 26 October 2018 at 3:14 pm


Government’s Plan to Cut Disability Support Pension Backfires
26 October 2018 at 3:14 pm

The federal government is ditching controversial plans to review the eligibility of 90,000 people on the Disability Support Pension after only a tiny fraction of recipients were found not to qualify for the payment.

The DSP medical reviews were expected to save the government $61.2 million over five years by cancelling 2,300 people’s benefits each year and moving 1,800 people onto the lower Newstart payment.

But on Thursday during Senate Estimates, the Department of Social Services revealed the 2016-17 budget policy had been scrapped after only 2 per cent of those reviewed to date were found to be ineligible ­– just 555 people from 28,784 finalised reviews.

Therese Sands, joint-CEO of People with Disability Australia, said she was pleased the policy – which planned for 30,000 reviews a year for three years would be dropped as it caused considerable anguish to the disability community.

“Many people with disability have contacted us over the past two years in significant distress about being reviewed for eligibility for the Disability Support Pension, and potentially losing this income support payment,” Sands told Pro Bono News.

“Our advocates have spent time supporting and assisting them through the long process of review.”

In February Pro Bono News reported a sharp decline in people accessing the DSP due to the Gillard government tightening eligibility requirements in 2012.

New DSP participants declined from a peak of almost 89,000 in 2009-10 to around 32,000 in 2016-17.

During Thursday’s estimates hearing it was revealed only 29.9 per cent of 103,005 DSP claims in 2017-18 were successful, down from a 59.6 per cent success rate in 2010-11.   

Sands said the government needed to stop targeting people with disability on income support, and make sure the safety net supported people instead of hurting them.  

“We also want a review of the impairment tables that mean that many people with disability are trying to survive on the much lower Newstart payment, that doesn’t take into account the extra costs of disability and/or illness,” she said.

A single person on Newstart receives $550 a fortnight compared with $916 a fortnight for a single person on the DSP.  

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert told Pro Bono News she feared more people with disability would be stuck on Newstart if they couldn’t find work.       

She said the government needed to review the number of people with disability on Newstart and re-assess whether they should really be on the DSP.

“I’m deeply concerned that there are people with disability struggling to survive on Newstart and locked out of the labour market because they face discrimination over their disability,” Siewert said.

“We need to make sure they are getting a level of payment that properly supports them and doesn’t condemn them into poverty.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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  • Lost says:

    Good, but I fell into their brilliant idea hole and can’t get out. They just keep rejecting my dsp. Looks like I will be in the forever struggle until they bury me in the hole they made.

    But hey, they saved some money.

  • julie miller says:

    I am currently still going through a dsp medical review since June 2017, I received a letter and never heard from them again, I’ve had to see a pychologist since this begun, plus a gp , an articleI read kathryn campbell has scrapped the dsp medical reviews, does this mean this is finally over, as I havent heard anything from centrelink since 2017. Or do I have to keep going on.

    • penny says:

      you should contact centrelink to check as it is unlikely they will drop your review which is already in the system. if the review still ongoing, do your homework by download impairment tables, identify which table applies to you and how much points you think you are qualified. each medical condition has to be diagnosed, treated and stabilised before the table can be used for impairment points. total minimum 20 points needed, then you have to pass work capacity test of less than 15 hours per week

      • nita says:

        The other issue with these is finding the proper impairment tables because if your impairment falls between two of the tables, neither of them all give you any points. For example, the table on brain function which is intended to work for those with dementia assumes that all dementia is Alzheimers. If your issue is an atypical dementia affecting the frontal lobe of the brain then your symptoms will be more like that of depression, which is covered under the mental health function table. Frontal temporal dementia (FTD) and depression relate to the same area of the brain – depression being reversible suppression of activity and FTD loss of cells in the frontal lobe of the brain. so your condition and all evidence are related to one table and symptoms to another table.

  • julie miller says:

    Still haven’t heard from centrelink after receiving a letter for a deposit medical review, internet has said it got scrapped, going to cost the government to much money. Sad that they put people through he’ll. Anybody no for sure they were cancelled in 2017?

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