Disability support pay too low: experts

Angus Livingston
(Australian Associated Press)


Australians living with disabilities face “incredibly onerous” obstacles just to stay on the support pension, as research shows they’re paying extra for basic living costs.

A new report has found people on the Disability Support Pension spend $107-a-week more on basic living costs than other Australians.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations is concerned eligibility thresholds are so tight that more than 200,000 people have been moved to the lower Newstart payment.

“Successive governments have put a number of things in place which are making the application process incredibly onerous and burdensome for people with a disability,” chief executive Ross Joyce told AAP on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of additional costs of living with disability including accessible housing, transport and access to health services.

“These costs are particularly acute for people with disability living in regional and remote areas of Australia.”

Economic modelling unveiled at Parliament House on Tuesday reveals people on disability pensions spend $107-a-week more on basic living costs like travel and healthcare.

“The gaps in standards of living are much higher for households where a family member with disability is on Newstart,” report author Professor Laurie Brown said.

A Monash University report also released on Tuesday found evidence the stress of going on Newstart was taking a toll on people with disabilities.

“We found that disability pension recipients had two and a half times the rate of hospital admission compared to wage earners. People getting Newstart were three times more likely to report at least 10 health conditions,” report author Professor Alex Collie said.

Mr Joyce said the onerous changes need to be rolled back because they haven’t resulted in more people with disability working.

“Instead they’ve resigned more people with disability to poverty and financial insecurity and caused stress and heartache,” he said.

Advocates want an urgent review into the adequacy of the DSP.

They’re calling for the eligibility process to be fair and reasonable, and easier to access for people with disabilities.

They also want the eligibility criteria to recognise that fluctuating conditions or illnesses can mean people’s conditions get significantly better or worse at various points.


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