Disability Support Pension applicants are being forced into poverty, inquiry hears

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A Senate committee reviewing the effectiveness of the Disability Support Pension has heard plenty of long-standing complaints and frustrations about the payment. 

Similar concerns regarding the national disability insurance scheme were raised last year. 

Speaker said that people who should be eligible for the DSP are often demoted to much lower payments due to job-seeking requirements, and applicants must “jump through hoops” to receive assistance. 

Also, according to speakers, the process does not “understand” certain conditions, and eligibility requirements are too bureaucratic and focused on the medical model of disability.

The Commission also heard a request to eliminate “support programs” like work preparation plans and review the government’s “disability table” to determine the severity of a person’s disability or illness.

DSP provides up to $868.30 per person for two weeks if they have “permanent physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disability” and cannot work more than 15 hours per week. 

The condition of the recipient must also be “properly diagnosed, treated, and stabilized.” 

Unlike other government payments, the percentage of DSPs was not raised at the start of last year’s coronavirus outbreak. 

As of 2018, over 750,000 Australians received the DSP.

People with Disability Australia senior policy manager Giancarlo de Vera said the DSP and the application process in its current form “fall woefully short by any measure”.

According to the DSS submission, DSP spending in 2020-21 was projected to be $ 18.48 billion, or nearly 12% of social security spending.

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