Government Report: DSP Harder to Get

Article published 23 March 2018

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Eligibility Stricter

The Australian Government’s report on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) has revealed the effects of stricter eligibility requirements which were implemented in 2012.

The report shows a sharp drop in the number of people being assessed as eligible for the DSP. In 2009-2010, there were 89,000 new DSP entrants, but in 2016-2017 this had dropped to 32,000.

The stricter criteria introduced have resulted in changes to assessments that focus on ability to perform certain activities rather than on medical diagnoses of conditions.

There have also been changes in the makeup of people receiving the DSP. The number of DSP recipients with physical impairments has declined and the proportion with psychiatric and intellectual impairments has increased.

The report’s release coincides with growing awareness that the Government’s crackdown on current DSP recipients has achieved little success. In the 2016-17 Budget, the Government announced it would review up to 90,000 current DSP recipients in a bid to save around $60 million.

Evidence at a Senate Estimates hearing on 1 March 2018 revealed that from July 2016 to November 2017, 30,056 reviews had taken place. But falling far from the Government’s ambitious targets, just 16 people had their DSP cancelled involuntarily. A further 119 recipients voluntarily chose to have their Disability Support Pension cancelled.

Despite assertions that the crackdown was an ‘integrity’ measure rather than a savings measure, it makes one question the amount of resources that were needed to conduct a crackdown that has succeeded in only half a per cent of cases.

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