Disturbing gap between the Disability Support Pension and cost of living for people with disabilities

Disturbing gap between the Disability Support Pension and cost of living for people with disabilities

Posted September 18, 2019

A new report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) on the need to improve income support for people with disability compares the additional financial hardship and insecurity of households with a person or people with disability and those without.

The relative gap in the capacity of households reliant on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) or the Newstart Allowance to pay for the bare necessities is most disturbing and adds to the disadvantages faced by people with disability and those who care for them.

Equally concerning is the impact of changes to eligibility requirements for the DSP, which has resulted in a decline of successful claims from 69% in 2010-11 to 40.6% in 2013-14 and 29.8% in 2017-18.

People with disability now assessed as having partial capacity to work have no choice but to apply for the Newstart Allowance, which is significantly below the poverty line. In December 2014, 20 per cent of people on the Newstart Allowance had a disability. Four years later this number had grown to 28%.

A partial capacity to work does not necessarily mean the ability to actually obtain work.

In light of the findings of this report, Carers Australia supports the recommendation of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) for an urgent review into the adequacy of the Disability Support Pension.

We also support the recommendation for broadening the eligibility for the DSP. In particular, the requirement that people be fully treated and stabilised before they can access the DSP should be removed. Treating and stablilising a condition can be hard for people with episodic illness, and where there is a rapid onset of disease or accidents and injury – especially in circumstances where they may have multiple health conditions. How are they meant to live in the meantime?

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