The Australian Government is implementing improved assessment processes for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) as part of the More Accurate and efficient Disability Support Pension 2010-11 Budget Measure.
Key Elements of this measure include:
- the transfer of DSP policy to FaHCSIA;
- new assessments for jobseekers;
- all assessments being undertaken by Department of Human Services, Job Capacity Assessors; and
- a requirement for DSP applicants, who do not have a severe disability or illness, to provide evidence that they are not able to do any work, even with appropriate capacity building and rehabilitation.
From 1 July 2011, responsibility for DSP assessments was transferred from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) so that all DSP related policy is now in the one place.
New assessments for job seekers with disabilities and other disadvantaged job seekers were also introduced from 1 July 2011. Disadvantaged job seekers will benefit from new assessments to refer them to the most appropriate employment service and identify the level of support that matches their needs.
The new job seeker assessments will be completed by Department of Human Services. These assessments will be undertaken by medical and allied health professionals. The completion of assessments by Australian Government organisations will make the assessment process less complex for disadvantaged job seekers and provide greater consistency in determining their employment service needs.
From 3 September 2011, Job Capacity Assessments for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) will be refined to have a greater focus on a person’s potential to work with appropriate capacity building and rehabilitation. The assessments will also have greater consideration of the person’s transferrable skills, suitability for alternative employment with reasonable adjustment and their capacity to benefit from vocational training and rehabilitation. This does not impact current recipients of the DSP.
Many new applications for the disability pension are not triggered by the acquisition of an impairment or disability, but by changes in an individual’s employment circumstances. Around half of DSP entrants come onto payment from employment without having tested their capacity to be retrained for alternative work. Timely intervention is essential in ensuring people with some capacity maintain their workforce attachment.
As part of the new assessment process, DSP claimants will now be required to provide sufficient evidence that they are unable to participate in work, even with appropriate employment assistance. This evidence will include demonstrating that they have participated in an open employment service or vocational rehabilitation.
DSP claimants who do not have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they could not be assisted back to work will have their DSP claim rejected in the first instance, and will be referred to an appropriate employment service for a program of support, for up to 18 months, and will be offered an alternative income support payment while they are participating in the program, generally Newstart Allowance.
Claimants with manifest or severe disabilities who are clearly unable to work will not be subject to the new requirement.
More needs to be done to encourage people with disability to participate in community life - and key to that is supporting those who can, to enter the workforce. This is especially important given the trend over the last decade which has seen the number of DSP recipients increase by over 31 per cent, reaching more than 757,000 in June 2009.
This measure will focus on keeping people with capacity connected to the workforce, thereby reducing their reliance on income support.