Disability Support Pension (DSP)


The DSP is a payment for people with a longer-term illness. Eligible applicants are those who:

  • are at least 16 and under age pension age
  • have a permanent medical condition that prevents you from working 15 hours or more per week within the next 2 years
  • under the income and assets test limits

People are entitled to this payment from the age of 16 years regardless of parental income support

How applicants are assessed

Specifically for a DSP claim, Centrelink assesses the individual’s functionality and how the condition affects a person’s day-to-day living. This assessment is based on provided medical evidence that confirms/states;

  • How each condition is diagnosed
  • You have – or are – undertaking all reasonable/accessible treatment options and what those options are
  • That each condition will persist for at least two years where you can’t work or retrain to work for at least 15 hours a week in the next 2 years
  • The functional impact of each condition (how each condition affects you)
Functional impact
The functional impact of how each condition affects you involves being assessed via points on relevant impairment tables. Currently, you are required to attain a total of 20 points (i.e., this can be from more than one table) to be eligible for the DSP. The following links contain information on the impairment tables, and how ME/CFS can be assessed by Centrelink (from page 33)

Advice for Applicants

Getting medical evidence

Supporting medical evidence for each functioning impact of the impairment table/s of ME/CFS (e.g. Functions requiring Physical Exertion and Stamina) to a total of 20 points is the most relevant factor in the outcome of your application. Supporting medical evidence can be in the form of letters from the diagnosing specialists/your current treating physicians, and documents such as test results. Documents within the last 2 years carry more support for the outcome of your application.

If you want to talk through your application, the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union can help. They also have heaps of helpful tips on their website.

If you are too unwell to fill out your application, you can nominate somebody else to liaise with Centrelink on your behalf.

Tips for collecting medical evidence*

  • Collect as much documented medical evidence from health professionals:
  1. Verification of the duration of the ME/CFS
  2. The deterioration of your well-being
  3. Documentation of ongoing medical treatment/s to support the claim
  • Start keeping a daily journal of:
    •  the professionals that you have visited,
    • The frequency and supports needed to manage access to these appointments
    • Assessment of the home for equipment
    • Home and community care (HACC) services

* These tips also apply to medical evidence for NDIS applications.

 Need help with your application or appeal?

Anecdotally, Emerge Australia has heard from ME/CFS patients and advocacy groups that it can be quite difficult to accumulate the necessary points required to be eligible for the DSP.

If you require advocacy or help with your DSP application, such as understanding and completing forms, collecting the appropriate medical evidence, assessing the application success rate, and support review process, please go to Legal Services, Advocacy and protection of rights section.

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