Age Pension or DSP – which is better?

Joe is unsure whether he would be better off remaining on the DSP.

Two Pensioners

After a visit to the vehicle-licensing office, Joe is unsure whether he would be better off remaining on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) or switching to the Age Pension.

Q. Joe

While paying my vehicle licence recently, the person behind the counter asked why I'm not on an Age Pension instead of the Disability Support Pension (I'm 66 soon).

She went on to say that as an aged pensioner, I would be entitled to a free driver licence when it's due to be renewed.

Can you tell me which pension would be more beneficial for me?

The pension that is best suited to you really depends on your individual circumstances and is something that you should consider carefully. When you reached Age Pension age, Centrelink should have written to you asking if you wish to transfer to the Age Pension and outlining the differences between both payments.

Essentially, the payment rates are the same for both the Age Pension and the Disability Support Pension. As you receive a Pensioner Concession Card with both payments, I’m not sure as to why you would be eligible for a free driver’s licence as an Age Pension recipient and not a Disability Support Pension recipient. However, it is worth noting that concessions offered differ between states and territories, so you will need to check which concessions are paid in the state in which you reside.

Many people choose to switch to the Age Pension when they reach pension age, as it means they no longer need to have their eligibility for the DSP assessed. However, depending on your individual circumstances, you may receive additional payments due to receiving the DSP that you would not receive under the Age Pension.

It can also be more beneficial to be on an Age Pension if you plan to travel for extended periods overseas.

As this information is only general in nature, you should contact Centrelink to discuss your individual circumstances to enable you to ascertain which payment is best for you.

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    COMMENTS

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    missmarple
    29th May 2017
    10:27am
    I have never heard of a free Drivers Licence when on aged pension,, have I been duped all these years ????? I think NOT
    MICK
    29th May 2017
    11:23am
    Reduced rate yes. Free? I doubt it.
    Troubadour
    29th May 2017
    11:35am
    You and me both, We have never had a free drivers 'licence just a reduced fee.
    PlanB
    29th May 2017
    11:37am
    Yes in NSW we get our driver's licence free and our Rego -- still have to pay for the 3rd party
    --Green Slip-- have to pay for your boat licence.

    Are you in NSW Missmarple?
    PlanB
    29th May 2017
    11:39am
    I meant to add -- the free licence etc is on the Aged Pension do not know about DSP
    PlanB
    29th May 2017
    11:41am
    Also once you turn 75 on the aged pension you have to have a full medical and eye test every year
    SuziJ
    29th May 2017
    11:45am
    I get my eyes tested free every year and have done so since 55. My doctor does a letter for me and I go to my local optometrist and it's all bulk billed.
    Theo1943
    29th May 2017
    11:50am
    I'm in WA, Miss Marple and pensioners in WA get their drivers licence for no annual fee. I have had a free licence for the past nine years. We also get a reduced registration fee on one privately licensed vehicle per person.
    Driver's licence fee exemption
    100% Exemption from payment of the driver licence fee for the renewal or replacement of a driver's licence. Holders of: Centrelink Aged Pensioner Concession Card; WA Seniors Card and a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card; Veterans Affairs Pensioner Concession Card (where the holder is receiving a service pension and is of pension age - See note 1 below); or Veterans who hold a gold Repatriation Health Card endorsed TPI or EDA card issued by the Department of Veteran Affairs.
    Driver's licence fee concession
    50% Reduction of fee for the renewal or replacement of driver's licence by 50%. Holders of: Any other Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card. Any other Veteran's Affairs Pensioner Concession Card; or A WA Seniors Card.
    Photo card fee exemption
    100% Exemption from payment of the PhotoCard fee for the renewal or replacement of a Photo Card. Holders of: Centrelink Aged Pensioner Concession Card; WA Seniors Card and a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card; Veterans Affairs Pensioner Concession Card (where the holder is receiving a service pension and is of pension age - See note 1 below); or Veterans who hold a gold Repatriation Health Card endorsed TPI or EDA card issued by the Department of Veteran Affairs.
    JAID
    29th May 2017
    2:11pm
    An aside, they are not exactly free but Tasmanian licences have got sensible. You tick the number of years you want but only pay one
    small fixed price. Same amount of work for the issuers but perhaps $50 less for a five year licence than before.
    MICK
    29th May 2017
    11:07am
    DSP? The greatest rort going in our system of bludgers looking for a free ride. Can somebody tell me how it is that 1 million+ Australians are 'disabled'? Clearly we have become a nation of hand out people. It is wrong.
    Jezemeg8
    29th May 2017
    11:13am
    Yes, there are SOME on DSP who are duping the system Mick, but the majority of us have very valid reasons for being on this pension. It wasn't my choice to be forced into retirement in my late 40's after being deemed by WorkCover doctors to be "too disabled to continue in employment". No ability to get WorkCover insurance, no possibility of getting any employment.

    So now, even though the DSP is only just enough to cover the medication I require (unfortunately few are on the so-called "free list") I am grateful for the fact it does exist. As with everything in this world there are SOME who choose to rort the system, but please don't paint everyone with the same brush.
    MICK
    29th May 2017
    11:22am
    So it is the fault of the system? If so then up to the government to fix.
    If you did not have the DSP then could you access your treatment through Medicare as I thought that was the purpose of Medicare? Od course if an ailment is 'cosmetic' rather than serious taxpayers might consider it a bit rough to pick up the tab.
    My point was that over 1 million of us on the DSP is not factual. It is a rort which needs to end.
    Old Man
    29th May 2017
    12:09pm
    MICK, I wonder if all the problems started with a Howard government. They managed to reduce unemployment at one stage by putting all those over a certain age, (60 I think) off Newstart and onto the DSP. Cost a bit more but they were able to claim that they had sorted the unemployment problem.

    This action, in my opinion, lowered the status of the DSP and stopped the scrutiny to some degree. Is Centrelink still following the laxness in the system from way back then? When a government makes a decision which is either unpopular or rorting the system, a new government is slow to make adjustments as they can blame the previous lot.

    All in all, I agree that there are some who are gaming the system and maybe some doctors should be brought before the authorities to explain why they have such a high rate of certificates rating patients as unemployed due to a "disability".
    MICK
    29th May 2017
    1:37pm
    Don't disagree with you Old Man.

    FYI the Howard government allowed my superannuation investment (Gorgon LNG deposit) to be sold to foreigners. Now Australians get no return on our gas and no gas for us.
    Thanks Johnny. We really need politicians like you....and we seem to be getting more and more. Attacks on those who do the right thing and handouts to mates at the top. Oh yeah, now deny your victims a pension as well!
    Sorry OM...on a roll. Post speaks for itself.
    Cat
    29th May 2017
    2:18pm
    Mick - you asked "If you did not have the DSP then could you access your treatment through Medicare as I thought that was the purpose of Medicare?"

    I too thought that was the purpose of Medicare, but it turns out not. The reality is that whether you are on DSP or not someone has to be willing to treat a condition. In many instances medicare does not fund the treatment. I have been told by staff at a major city hospital "We don't treat that kind of injury" (in an indignant tone of voice) and left with no treatment. I am still in shock and anger to be told recently by every radiology clinic that medicare does not fund the MRI that I was given a referral for and that I need to have done to find out what the gnawing ongoing pain i one of my breast is that won't go away and just gets worse. I was told that I am too young for the mamogram to be able to see through the breast tissue to be able to see what it is and an ultrasound does not detect many things, and that the MRI is the only thing that will detect the problem in my case but because Medicare doesn't fund any of the cost I would have to pay hundreds for the cost, and because I don't have the money I don't get the MRI, I don't get diagnosed and I don't get treated for whatever it is. Medicare is a sick joke.

    As far as 1 million on disability. If you know about how many in a population are genuinely disabled to the point of serious impediment of every aspect of a person's functioning - there should be more than 1 million on disability in Australia, but because of the overly strict criteria that denies many disabled people the payment, even people with amputated limbs are denied the payment, and as a by-product of that makes it literally impossible for the disability payment to be rorted.

    I had a friend who had bronchiectisis, which is a fatal lung condition as bad as cystic fybrosis. She was in hospital alot, suffered constant side effects from the massive constant doses of medications that she had to take every day, and in spite of this, Centrelink took her DSP away and she died. This is far more often the case than any kind of rorting.

    In the group of 5 women that I went to my school reunion when I was in my 30's, 2 of the 5 were disabled, one with cystic fybrosis and another with internal injuries including damaged kidneys, bladder and more. These were invisible to anyone who looked at the 5 of us who looked like five 'normal people, and the 2 disabled were seen as obvious 'rorters'. Both died before reaching 40. People don't have any idea that a person who is not in a wheelchair or not using aids at a particular time or on a particular day can be suffering as much as anyone in a wheelchair or who looks disabled. It really is a blight on our society the way disabled people are treated because of so much ignorance.
    JAID
    29th May 2017
    2:18pm
    A million must be too many. Fortunately, work is becoming less risky quite quickly and the numbers of at least the non-dodgy claimants will reduce accordingly. Good all round.

    I have seen some awful human damage at work sites and also a couple cases of attempted fraudulent claims. Trouble is that they take expertise to be sure of the status. If that expertise is coming from GP's or phychiatrists for my money and in the absence of alternatives it is better to take their word for it than extend suffering.
    JAID
    29th May 2017
    2:18pm
    A million must be too many. Fortunately, work is becoming less risky quite quickly and the numbers of at least the non-dodgy claimants will reduce accordingly. Good all round.

    I have seen some awful human damage at work sites and also a couple cases of attempted fraudulent claims. Trouble is that they take expertise to be sure of the status. If that expertise is coming from GP's or phychiatrists for my money and in the absence of alternatives it is better to take their word for it than extend suffering.
    Star Trekker
    29th May 2017
    3:44pm
    Cat, I totally agree with you. My daughter cannot get the DSP due to an invisible disability. She is in constant pain and in a myriad of pain relief which barely eases the pain, plus all the other medications she is on for sub-syndromes.
    She is unable to drive, or able go out without support.
    And due to the criteria tables that were put in place by the previous Labor Govt. she is forced to look for work even though some days she can barely get out of bed.
    I know of people who have cancer and cannot get it.
    Cat
    29th May 2017
    6:34pm
    Star Trekker, I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's situation. It's unfair on many levels. Because of the way she is being treated by Centrelink denying her the DSP, no doubt that means that she is not getting access to the kind of support that she would need to successfully have some kind of participation in the workforce anyway, and being forced ad hoc to look for a job in the open job market with a disability would probably just result in aggravation of her condition.

    If you haven't done so already I would suggest getting in contact with your local welfare rights service. They can advise you about what you can do for your situation and what your daughter's entitlements are. Centrelink won't advise your daughter about what her entitlements are. I believe that there is an entitlement for someone in your daughter's situation to be excused from actively looking for work as a result of being unwell. Maybe you have explored this already. It might be a matter of having to go back and forth to the doctor for a certificate.

    I find that it's hard to find a doctor these days who is prepared to deal with more than 1 medical issue or symptom at a time. This is a real problem when it is a set of problems and one medical problem leads to another and the problems start piling up and they can't deal with your whole situation. This can also go against you when you are applying for the DSP. I hope things improve for you and your daughter.
    MICK
    29th May 2017
    8:49pm
    We'll have to agree to disagree Cat. 1 in 25 'disabled does not happen in any nation I can think of and it sounds a lot like some of us trying to game the system. Of course many of the so called conditions are self imposed by bad life styles and then wanting to be fixed up or paid for a bad life style.
    I don't know about your condition so cannot comment. I do know what I see every day I go out and I am not impressed by what many Australians demand. It is not right and proper and says a lot about what we have become as a country. Pretty sad. Travel is wonderful because it gives you a comparison...and we rate poorly from what I have seen so far.
    Jezemeg8
    29th May 2017
    11:09am
    Fortunately as I surrendered my driver's license years ago because I found driving on metropolitan roads too stressful, I no longer need to worry whether there's such a thing as a free driver's license or not. But no, missmarple, I've not heard of that option being available either.
    Allie
    29th May 2017
    11:36am
    Concessions and discounts
    Pensioners

    Eligible pensioners receive the following products free of charge:

    Licences
    Driving tests
    Riding skills test
    Heavy Vehicle Competency Based Assessment (CBA) log book and guide
    Replacement learner driver log book
    Photo Cards (Carers and Seniors Card holders also receive a Photo Card free of charge).
    An eligible pensioner is anyone who holds or receives one of the following:
    A current Pensioner Concession Card (PCC), issued by the Department of Human Services-Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), showing a NSW address
    A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'TPI' (Totally & Permanently Incapacitated)A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'EDA' (Extreme Disablement Adjustment)
    A letter or statement/determination from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, stating that you receive a disability pension of 70% or higher, or an Intermediate or Extreme Disablement Adjustment Pension, or you have been assessed under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, at 50 or more impairment points
    A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'War Widow'
    A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'War Widower'.

    Interstate-issued pensioner concession cards are not acceptable for claiming a concession in NSW.

    Your eligibility for the concession will be validated electronically.

    An eligible pensioner is anyone who holds or receives one of the following:

    A current Pensioner Concession Card (PCC), issued by the Department of Human Services-Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), showing a NSW address
    A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'TPI' (Totally & Permanently Incapacitated)
    A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'EDA' (Extreme Disablement Adjustment)
    A letter or statement/determination from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, stating that you receive a disability pension of 70 per cent or higher, or an Intermediate or Extreme Disablement Adjustment Pension, or you have been assessed under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, at 50 or more impairment points
    A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'War Widow'
    A DVA Gold Card endorsed 'War Widower'.

    Interstate-issued pensioner concession cards are not acceptable for claiming a concession in NSW.

    Your eligibility for the concession will be validated electronically.
    MITZY
    29th May 2017
    12:00pm
    All the above is available for age and disability pensioners provided you have a "clean/clear" driving record in NSW. What happens in other states is entirely up to the governments of those states.
    So, when you get your car registration and on it, it indicates" 0000" you then go and get your pink and green slips (which you pay for) and register your car for "NIL Car Registration Fees". When your driving license is due for renewal the appropriate body has the information that you have NIL car registration fees, have paid for your pink and green slips and, most importantly, you have a clean driving record (i.e. no charges against your driving and no demerit points). You then are eligible for a NSW "FREE" driver's license based on your good driving record. When you reach 75 you receive a letter from the NSW Maritime Services to complete a medical record with your doctor and obtain a satisfactory eye test and you then take these documents to the Maritime Services and they issue you with your one or five year driver's license "free of charge".
    This concession is available for One Car Per Pensioner, i.e. a married couple, both eligible pensioners, are each entitled to these concessions.
    Carer and Disability Pensioners and others are available for the above concessions in NSW. If you live in another state, check the appropriate registry for the full information on each state's concessions.
    JAID
    29th May 2017
    2:25pm
    Wow a "clean driving record" is that clean over your driving life or over a defined period?

    (I wish cruise control had come in during my wild youth)
    dweezy2176
    29th May 2017
    11:39am
    I live in the "multicultural utopia" Fairfield, NSW and out here it is the dream of every ethnic to qualify for the "rorters" .. Sadly, too many, far too many seem to have no trouble getting it! The street I live in is 90% "rorters" including several families with everyone over 16 on DSP.. the only thing missing is visible disabilities .. mind I have heard a few of the "veterans" are now after the swap to OAP because of the O/S travel differences .. seems when you turn 65 your "health" improves, dramatically LOL!
    PlanB
    29th May 2017
    11:43am
    I sure am not for bludgers getting the DSP.
    fred
    29th May 2017
    11:52am
    No where near enough medical scrutiny or assessment for those many fakes getting the Disability Support Pension ,/ including many refugees and immigrants that have not worked in this country and paid at least 10 years tax and medicare levies etc . Well overdue need to clamp down on overgenerous concessions . I have had a life threatening heart attack 15 years ago and have not received one cent
    MICK
    29th May 2017
    1:41pm
    If you posted the facts/truth on The Guardian dweezy your post would be moderated. That means removed because you dared to have an opinion other than the published 'poor minority' trying to create social engineering which is often at odds with both fairness and what society wants.
    dweezy2176
    29th May 2017
    2:17pm
    There was a case on "Current Affair" last week of a "rorter" knocking over $207 000 over 20 years for "totally blind" she has a driver's licence & seemingly perfect sight .. the 2 most alarming things about this "rorter" was she was approved by a doctor in .. Lebanon .. and instead of gaol that "wonderful", caring man, Minister Tudge says, "CentreLink is currently negotiating a repayment schedule"> Even tho she looks well into her 60s .. soooo NO gaol, court or real punishment .. just negotiation .. but seriously CL accepted a medical certificate from Lebanon .. Oooooooh to be born with the right ethnicity!
    Old Man
    29th May 2017
    11:56am
    As far as I can tell, the two pensions are about equal in payments. I think that a person on the DSP can earn a bit more without affecting the payments but I stand to be corrected on this. There is no restriction on assets with the DSP. The DSP may require regular checks to confirm that the disability is still current whereas the age pension has no such restriction. I would be inclined to get an opinion from an expert in this area.
    Star Trekker
    29th May 2017
    1:42pm
    DSP have the same restrictions on assets as the Aged Pension.
    dweezy2176
    29th May 2017
    2:21pm
    O/S travel is now restricted to 6 weeks on the "rorters" but 26 weeks on the OAP + an OAP (35 years residence) can still move O/S & only lose the supplement .. I don't think a "rorter" pension is portable anymore.
    Rose
    29th May 2017
    2:31pm
    The differences between payments for DSP & Age Pension for those eligible & residing in Australia are mainly in eligibility for certain additional Allowances eg if you stay on DSP you can remain eligible for Pension Education Supplement & Ed Entry Payment if you are studying; also you can continue to receive Incentive Allowance & if you are single & sharing rental accommodation you are entitled to a higher rate of Rent Assistance on DSP.
    Portability of payments if you travel or live overseas also has different criteria for each payment.
    Supernan
    29th May 2017
    11:59am
    There is no discount for Drivers Licences in Qld for Pensioners. It varies state to state. We do get small rebate on car rego.
    Charlie
    29th May 2017
    12:45pm
    This doesn't tell me much about the differences.

    I retired 10 years early, due to illness, so I went on to disability support pension.

    When I reached 65 (three years ago) Centrelink told me I had to go on to age pension. This was incorrect. I wrote to human services in Canberra and they said I had a choice.

    I am now on, over 65 disability support pension. I have never heard of a free drivers license for either pension and I live in Queensland. There is however a good registration concession of $150 a year for either pension. (I have small car)

    I get everything the age pension people are entitled to. There is only one extra I know of that only the over 65 disability people get, this has to do with share accommodation and live in carer type of situation.

    The main reason I stayed on disability support pension is that I was using a disability employment agency for casual work and I wanted to keep using the service, however, the legislation defined who can use the service and that's approximately people 16yo to 65yo so I was chopped out of that.
    KSS
    29th May 2017
    1:50pm
    "Everything the age pension people are entitled to" depends on where you live. Different states/territories, different rules! They are not Federal handouts/discounts.
    Star Trekker
    29th May 2017
    1:46pm
    Victorians get a 50 % reduction on rego & 3rd party if on any type of pension. Licenses can be 3 or 10 years but it is cheaper to get the 3 yr one when it is divided to yearly cost. No freebies here.
    tman5491
    29th May 2017
    4:02pm
    I am 68 and on DSP. Centrelink never offered me the option of switching to age pension ? Only a letter confirming I was still on DSP. I never questioned it as I have no plans or money for overseas travel.
    chrissie
    29th May 2017
    4:32pm
    A driver's licence would be one of the cheapest things required. Car insurance, council rates, power, etc far more expensive but no one has mentioned these. I agree with Mick, heaps rorting the system but it's there to be rorted. I remember people at work, Commonwealth government, spending ages trying to work out how to get a pension as well as Com Super and their lump sum. Glad I studied and don't need Centre link.
    KB
    29th May 2017
    4:56pm
    Depending on the state you live in you get a concession rate.Public transport is generally free if you are a senior citizen during peak hours
    seagirl
    31st May 2017
    10:30am
    in Queensland there is no free Drivers Licence and am on the age pension i think all of Australia should be on free Licence i know NSW has free Licence.
    Blossom
    1st Jun 2017
    12:16am
    I know a guy who retired early on recommendation by his GP and the specialist he was seeing regularly who was put on a Disability Pension in the 1970s as he had s few small fractures in his spine, was in constant pain and slightly impaired movement. When he reached retirement age the Govt. changed his pension to Aged Pension. Obviously since then they are given the option which pension they receive
    Rocky
    4th Jun 2017
    3:07pm
    It's free in NSW but not in Qld I only know this because I have lived in both states
    vinradio
    27th Jun 2017
    4:35pm
    Anyone who thinks it is "easy" to get onto the DSP is dreaming. It is actually very difficult to get on to it, more than ever, these days. Don't forget, some disabilities are not visible. I was advised by a GP to go on it, due to several health problems, I was refused. Often the judgements are made by non- medical staff. They use a points scale, and if you don't get to a certain number of points, no luck! However I now get Age pension, and health problems not such an issue anymore.
    Kato
    9th Apr 2018
    9:34pm
    Any one had or have had the experience of caring for some one who is disabled and they are younger. I am at the required pension age later this year. My Partner who I care for will not be eligible for aged pension for another five years. Which one is best for me to stay on. Carer's pension or aged. and does my partner still get her DSP. Any advice Positive only will be greatly appreciated if you can't follow that then don't comment.
    Thanking anyone for help and ideas.
    Star Trekker
    9th Apr 2018
    9:45pm
    Stay on the Carer's pension if you can because of the supplements
    https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/carer-supplement.

    Your partner should be eligible to stay on the DSP until they are at retirement age. They may be able to stay on the DSP afterwards. Carer's is also for looking after the frail aged.
    Kato
    19th Apr 2018
    6:10pm
    Thank You Star Trekker.
    Your advice is much appreciated.


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