Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Updated Disability Support Pension Impairment Tables

The Impairment Tables used to assess people’s eligibility for the Disability Support Pension will be able to be updated for the first time in more than ten years, as a result of legislation passed through Parliament today.

People who apply for the Disability Support Pension from the 1st January 2012 will be assessed under the new Impairment Tables.

The legislation passed today 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 Impairment Tables are used in Disability Support Pension assessments to measure how a person’s impairment affects their ability to work.

They were last reviewed in 1993 and contain anomalies and inconsistencies which have distorted the assessment process.

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

An Advisory Committee consisting of medical, allied health and rehabilitation experts, representatives of people with disability, mental health advocates and relevant Government agencies was established in April 2010.

Following a thorough review and extensive consultation, the Advisory Committee found the current Impairment Tables are longer consistent with contemporary medical and rehabilitation practice, and recommended new Impairment Tables.

The Government has been continuing to consult with disability stakeholders and medical experts to ensure the recommended new Tables are implemented fairly and effectively from 1 January next year.

The new Impairment Tables focus on what people are able to 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.

That’s why we are taking steps to support people on disability pensions to get and keep a job wherever possible.

We know that many people with disability want to work if they can, but that they may need extra support. Employers may also need incentives to encourage them to employ people with disability.

From 1 July 2012 we are introducing a range of reforms to encourage greater participation by DSP recipients.

  • Introduce new participation requirements for disability support pensioners under the age of 35 with some capacity to work to build their capacity;
  • Provide more generous rules for existing disability pensioners to encourage them to work more hours; and
  • Support employers to take on more disability pensioners through new financial incentives.

The Government is also investing over $3 billion over the next four years through uncapping access to Disability Employment Services, so people with disability can more easily get help to find work.

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