Disability Impairment Tables revised
After consultation with support organisations, the Federal Government is tightening the criteria which will permit a person to gain access to the Disability Support Pension.
The Government's main objective under the change is to that ensure that there are up-to-date Impairment Tables which reflect today's medical and rehabilitation practice. It's other objective is to ensure that those people who have a disability and who are able to work and want to work are supported to do so.
The revised Tables will apply only to people who are assessed for disability from 1 January 2012.
People who are now on a Disability Support Pension (DSP) will not be affected by the changes.
The Impairment Tables have not been reviewed for 18 years – since 1993.
Presently there are around 800,000 Australians on the Disability Support Pension, more than the number of people on unemployment benefits.
An Advisory Committee of medical, allied health and rehabilitation experts, disability advocates, mental health advocates and Government agencies was established in 2010 to provide advice on updating the Impairment Tables.
The Government now considers that through medical advances and support mechanisms, many people who, under the current old guidelines are moved onto the Disability Support Pension could be supported into productive and personally rewarding jobs.
Centrelink has estimated that from 1 January 2012 up to as many as 40 per cent of those who qualify for the DSP under the current Tables would not qualify for the DSP under the new changes.
Changes to pension assessments will include people with hearing impairments being assessed with hearing aides on and being used.
Also being changed are guidelines for people with periodic mental health conditions.
Where people are overweight or suffer chronic pain, they will be assessed on their ability to perform work.
For those people with a disability who are assessed as able to work the government will provide additional employment assistance.
For people who do have some capacity to work, the Government has expanded the Disability Employment Service. It has taken the cap off the Disability Network to permit people with disabilities can get access to disability employment support without the long delays which have existed under the previous arrangements.
The draft legislative instrument that contains the revised Impairment Tables, based on the Advisory Committee's report, will be released shortly for public comment.
The Government has made the Impairment Tables public for review by the community. The Tables will also go a Senate inquiry that is also looking at the changes before they are implemented on 1 January 2012.
Views on the Tables can be made to a Senator in your state for input into the inquiry.
For a list of Senators see: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/senators/index.htm
For a copy of the revised Imparement Tables see: http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/payments/Pages/dsp_impairment_tables.aspx
2 August 2011.