Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Updated Impairment Tables for Disability Support Pensioners

People who apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) from today will be assessed under revised Impairment Tables.

The Tables are used to measure how a person’s impairment affects their ability to work.

The old Impairment Tables were last comprehensively reviewed in 1993, and contained anomalies and inconsistencies which distorted the assessment process.

For example, when hearing impairment was assessed, a person with a hearing aid was not required to wear it, but someone who was having their sight impairment assessed had to wear their glasses.

Consistent with modern medicine and rehabilitation practices, the updated Tables have a greater focus on a person’s ability, concentrating on what they are able to do, rather than what they can’t do.

The updated Tables were recommended by an Advisory Committee consisting of medical, allied health and rehabilitation experts, representatives of people with disability, mental health advocates and relevant Government agencies.

The revised Impairment Tables focus on what people can do, rather than what they can’t do.

The Australian Government believes we can do better than a lifetime spent on income support for Australians who have some capacity to work.

Over the past three budgets, the Government has introduced a series of reforms which are fundamentally overhauling key aspects of the DSP. Since these reforms began on 1 July 2010, the rate at which DSP claims are granted has fallen from 63.3 per cent to 51.8 per cent in October 2011, a drop of more than 11 percentage points.

We have taken a number of steps to help people with a disability get and keep a job whenever possible. This includes investing more than $3 billion over the next four years through uncapping access to Disability Employment Services, so people with disability can get help to find work.

We are also ensuring that people who apply for the DSP, who do not have a severe impairment or illness, demonstrate that they have tried to get help to find work before they can be eligible.

From 1 July 2012, we are introducing further reforms to encourage greater participation in the workforce by DSP recipients, including:

  • Introducing new participation requirements for DSP recipients under the age of 35 with some capacity to work to build their capacity;
  • Providing more generous rules for people receiving the DSP to allow them to work up to 30 hours a week; and
  • Supporting employers to take on more DSP recipients through new financial incentives.

The revised Impairment Tables can be viewed at: