Can you claim the DSP overseas?

Tim wants to move overseas and needs to know if he can continue to claim the Disability Support Pension (DSP).


Q. Tim
Can I continue to be paid the Disability Support Pension if I move overseas? How are my payments affected in this situation?

A. Most people on the DSP can only travel overseas for up to four weeks in a 12-month period without it affecting their pension. If you travel overseas for more than four weeks, Centrelink can either suspend or cancel your pension.

If you want to move overseas and keep the DSP you must apply for ‘unlimited portability’.

To be eligible for unlimited portability, a person must have:

  • A ‘severe impairment’
  • An inability to perform any work for the next five years.

A ‘severe’ impairment is defined as an impairment of 20 points or more under a single impairment table.

A person may qualify for DSP by having a total of 20 points across the impairment tables. For instance, they might have moderate functional impairment of lower limb function (10 points) plus a moderate functional impact on mental health function (10 points). But in order to meet the unlimited portability requirement, a person must be assessed as having a severe or extreme functional impairment to just one area – lower limb function, upper limb function, mental health, visual function, etc.

To demonstrate that a severe impairment will prevent you from working (absent a program of support) for the next five years, you need to show that you are unable to work eight or more hours per week without a program of support. This is significantly less than the normal work capacity for DSP, which is 15 hours per week.

A further difficulty arises from the five-year requirement. Most DSP assessments are based on a two-year presumption – the legislative base for ‘permanent’. But the portability rules require an inability to work for five years. 

If you are granted unlimited portability of your DSP, you will be paid at the non-proportional or standard rate for the first 26 weeks of your absence.

After the first 26 weeks the rate may become proportional – depending on the recipient’s circumstances. If they are paid at the proportional rate they are paid based on the your Australian working life residence. If you have lived in Australia for 35 years (420 months), then you are paid the full rate of DSP to which you are entitled. If, for example, you have only resided in Australia for 20 years, then you will be paid 241/420 of the Age Pension (20×12, plus an extra month).

Some DSP recipients are exempt from the proportional rate. These include terminally ill DSP recipients who are severely disabled, and permanently as well as severely impaired DSP recipients with no future work capacity who qualified for DSP because they became unable to work or became permanently blind while they were an Australian resident.

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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