Researchers call for urgent pension review

Disability advocates and researchers are calling for urgent reforms to the Disability Support Pension.

Calls for urgent pension review

Disability advocates and researchers are calling for urgent reforms to the Disability Support Pension (DSP), with a new report released on Tuesday showing people with a disability spend $107 a week more on basic living costs, such as transport and healthcare, than Australians without disability.

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) report into the standard of living for people with disability is one of three new studies by Australian universities that was launched at Parliament House on Tuesday to highlight the economic and health impacts of disability.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisation (AFDO) and its partners are concerned that successive Governments have made meeting the eligibility threshold so burdensome and difficult that many people with disability, who may have been eligible in the past, can no longer access the DSP.

More than 200,000 Australians with a disability are now receiving the lower Newstart allowance and tens of thousands of people are not receiving any support at all.

The NATSEM report found that

  • The income gap between households with disability and households without is $107 a week for a household with an adult member with disability.
  • To close the gap in household income to provide the same standard of living, families already receiving the DSP would need $183 more per week on average, and $343 for 200,000 people with disability receiving Newstart.
  • If the Government spent an additional $3.1 billion a year on the DSP, then the gap in the standard of living of households already on the DSP would nearly halve.

Report author Professor Laurie Brown said income support provided through the DSP is inadequate to provide these families with the same standard of living as households that are similar in every other way, but who have no family member with disability.

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

AFDO chief executive Ross Joyce said the financial cost of living with disability and the declining access to the DSP is causing significant economic, social, psychological stress and unnecessary hardship for people with disability.

“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,” Mr Joyce said.

“Over the past two decades, both parties put barriers in place for people with disability to access the DSP to make budgetary savings. We need to wind back those changes 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.

“We know that the Australian community supports the Disability Support Pension. The conversation that is now needed is about the adequacy of the DSP and how it is applied, so that people with disability are treated with fairness and dignity.”

Do you receive the DSP? Is the money you receive adequate to cover your costs? Should the DSP rate be higher to cover the higher expenses involved?

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    Star Trekker
    18th Sep 2019
    My daughter has multiple disabilities and is on Newstart. I get Carer's Allowance for her.
    I subsidise the cost of her medications as a lot of them are not on the PBS and some are not on prescription either. My husband is on DSP and I am on a Wife's pension which is not enough to cover our own health costs let alone hers.
    If Gillard hadn't changed the way DSP was given out we would not be in dire straits.
    18th Sep 2019
    my daughter is on disability Im on carers , all mine goes to pay rent phone and insurance. daughters money pays for food/electric etc. the NDIS doesnt cover a lot of things ( they use the excuse its medical )
    18th Sep 2019
    Too true - I'm carer for the ex and being over the age, she gets nothing from NDIS - funny system that - when does a disability cease being a disability? Any extra costs come out of pocket.... fortunately the State kicks in for travel over 100 km each way for treatment etc, but most travel is under that, as most can testify.

    I'm looking at working over Chrissie - first port of call is an electric shopper and nifty little alloy trailer it can go in on back of the car (told her I needed that long bus with the load lifter on the back.. but NO...)

    What's money in a good cause eh?........................ unless you ask the government for it........
    18th Sep 2019
    This was all supposed to change with the disability support insurance scheme.??

    I was one of the people who had a good job, but was disabled at 56.

    First thing they hit me with, was the amount of money I was allowed to have in the bank before my payment was reduced. I had $70,000 drawn from my super and put in the bank so my payments were reduced. Way less than I am allowed now on the age pension. But now its too late.

    i continually had the feeling the government was trying to erode anything I had, before I got to age pension, with the result that I drew my super at age 58 to survive.
    18th Sep 2019
    Does seem to be the agenda program there, charlie - this endless campaign to have retirees or near-retirees 'live off their accumulated wealth' - and then have nothing in full retirement.

    Same thing applies to those falling unemployed - gotta be dead broke and eating your assets to get any 'assistance' - meaning that the hill to climb to get back on top is higher and steeper than it should be - so once again they end up with less at retirement time.

    Postponing reality is something governments are good at in their desperate need to appear to be in control of their spending (while they spend like drunken sailors on their pet projects and their own salary rises etc).

    One could extend that to genuine infrastructure - the idea of opening the Channel Country lower end to the ocean was mooted once again - somebody said it was too costly - yet years of subsidising and rebuilding farms etc due to lack of water is somehow worthwhile...

    Well - the Snowies Scheme was costly, the trains were costly, the Harbour Bridge was costly.... but 'we' made it through using a genuine long-term business arrangement, and not a smash and grab for my own pocket privatised feed the leeches style that prevails these days.
    18th Sep 2019
    Charlie - I too got caught with this same situation. I was shafted from my job 18 months before becoming eligible for the Aged Pension. Stupid, stupid me - I took some money out of my super and put it in my mortgage account to cover keeping a roof over my head. CL said I had too much money, and my Newstart was hugely reduced.
    If I had left the money in my super (CL could not take it into consideration until I reached prservation age) - and drawn on it as I needed it - I would not have been penalised. And to top it off - this was AFTER speaking to a CL financial person.
    18th Sep 2019
    Robbing you today to ensure they pay you more down the track - postponing reality - now that you've been warned - take all steps to reduce your income in retirement etc so you can pull more from FedGuvCo.
    18th Sep 2019
    All of this is true. All of these ideas have merit. The stupidity of bureaucracy in this country is staggering. Of course, everybody is protecting their jobs and this is why we have the growth in bureaucracy, which has become an industry in itself.

    I am extremely sympathetic to the disabled person's plight but as Trebor pointed out they are not the only group affected by bureaucracy. It is true that governments are continually introducing ridiculous rules and forcing more and more people into hardship in their senior years. The answer to this is more people working and paying taxes but this is an impossibility. Women now need to provide for themselves and "married " pensions or tax benefits for single income families have disappeared. This requires an increase the number of jobs available at a time when technology is eating into the number of jobs available.

    Once this is recognized, then a complete review of welfare and the tax system is a no-brainer. Cash flow is the government's biggest problem.
    18th Sep 2019
    Hmm - going back - the issue of permanent high unemployment (something I mooted in a study program in 1983 - stating at the time that there would be a permanent number of unemployed so action was required NOW (1983) - has been in the making since the advent of large numbers of women into the workforce as Fraser Anning said - it was Inevitable!

    This situation has not and never will alter in favour of employment - and has grown worse with the advent of greater and greater automation. Unless the profits from such automation are shared across society in a fair manner - all markets will eventually dry up and stagnate for lack of buyers... no monee - no buyee.... and those who live under the bridge will not be bothering with fancy finished goods, but will be learning the joys of the simple life.

    I once again recall when I first became homeless - in my early fifties after a lifetime of solid work - and was sitting on the roadside, nearly out of fuel, at a fire at sunset in Winter in the New England area.... and thinking what a great painting this would make - "Modern Day Swaggy with his Faithful Steed" (the Falcon station wagon).

    The simple life has its merits.....
    18th Sep 2019
    SunnyOZ, something doesn't add up there, taking money from your Super and parking it in your mortgage on your Principal home should not have reduced your NSA. Was it parked in an offset account?
    18th Sep 2019
    SunnyOZ, something doesn't add up there, taking money from your Super and parking it in your mortgage on your Principal home should not have reduced your NSA. Was it parked in an offset account?
    Ted Wards
    18th Sep 2019
    I sometimes think we view disability wrongly, we focus on what the person cannot do, rather than focusing on what they can do. I also think the term itself is very misleading as sometimes a person with an ability issue is made disabled by the environment they are in.

    This is just a rhetorical question, not having a go at anyone. Carer's are such wonderful people who do their role with very little assistance or training. Not many of them will access resources like Carer's Australia or the specific organisations that assist to cope with specific illnesses. Heck most of them don't even recognise that they are carers. The power of carers, if they ever got together, would be enormous and the fact that they save the government millions, if not more in the care they provide, is a powerful lobby position. The reason they don't is because they are just too exhausted and overwhelmed!

    If carer's were to receive training in how to support their caree in a focused and targeted way, would the costs change? Further, would their role change?

    I've been working in this industry a long time in many roles and have seen carer's who refuse to receive any help as they believe it is their responsibility, not realising that if they received whatever help they could, they could enjoy (?) that role and not be so exhausted.
    I am not talking about severely disabled people here, although there are models of care not used in this country that could also address this issue.

    The cost of "disability" will only ever increase in this society because the focus in on looking at symptoms se doctors can prescribe an ever increasing amount of drugs to find relief of the symptoms. This is very deliberate because it generates obscene amounts of profit for the pharmaceutical companies! So naturally because the companies are worldwide and powerful, Governments are not going to fight them and things stay the same.

    The real question I guess is what amount or payment would be enough? Then there's the question so if you got lots more, what would you spend it on? Would it be on essentials or what maybe called luxuries?

    So for someone to say another $108 a week was it would be enough...enough for what? Is it that we need to reduce the cost of purchasing disability support and prescriptions? What about the multi- trillion dollar alternative therapy track? It has a proven record of curing, yet no one looks at this.

    Do you know that more people die every year from medicines and treatments, than are helped by western medicine? Just a little food for thought....
    18th Sep 2019
    I was on disability from age 51, Ted - reasons not specified - and when I was undergoing a job course I made it clear that I did not consider myself disabled - the young facilitator, an ex-Army guy - smiled and said:- "I know!"

    I get better as I age, though... tough breed.. I can walk now....
    18th Sep 2019
    I’m on a DSP and have been for several years. Prior to that I was a full-time carer to my Mum. She had dementia and severe mobility issues but she also had a will of iron and would have me and only me do anything for her - bathing, toileting, everything- 24/7 365 days a year. She refused to have even a day or 1/2 day of respite or day care. I did it, but in the meantime I became ill too and over the years my problems have only worsened. Restless legs syndrome, Periodic Limb Movement disorder, myoclonic jerks, sleep apnoea, arthritis ... I take a mass of prescription medication but that doesn’t fix the problem, it helps a bit. That means over the years I’ve looked to alternative therapies too, but they’re never cheap. At the moment I’m getting some relief from acupuncture but even after my private health benefit, and that will reach the limit soon, it costs me $40 out of pocket each session. Then there’s the arthritis, osteo and history of rheumatoid so occasionally I’m so sore I need massage, or physio. Another $40-$50. In a blink, Pension disappears.

    18th Sep 2019
    Disability has always had extra costs, even if only for medical treatments etc...

    Disability should be handled under one roof and not along with Colonel C'Link's plethora of payments, which tends to make consideration of individual cases nigh impossible... one size does not fit all.

    We already have a massive bureaucracy developing for NDIS, with plenty of you-beaut jobs and salaries and perks and government cars etc (as usual the vast majority of funding goes into administration etc, not to the end recipients) - why not amalgamate Disability and NDIS fully and make a workload of it?
    18th Sep 2019
    Sounds a solid idea to me Trebor!
    18th Sep 2019
    Just the first thought that sprung to mind, Paddo - needs work and a lot of consideration of facts and figures ... but on the other hand, governments are perfect at duplicating 'work' when they can .... (look at the number of 'assistant Ministers' mandated for the simple job of running a tiny portfolio and accepting reports from lackeys - (**eyes rolling emoticon implied**) ...
    18th Sep 2019
    46 ministers out of 76 seats - in the old wharfie industry that was called 'feather-bedding'.... and was treated with horror by wharf companies and government....

    One rule for those who lift and another rule for those who lean in reality ...
    18th Sep 2019
    Talk talk talk talk talk!
    The facts are clear. We have a government which feels entitled to come after ALL retirees no matter which income group they fit into. They've even come up with a concept known as 'Robo Debt' to fleece people decades later and with no proof of debt at all.

    Don't expect it to get any better. This lot understand that over 60s generally have a lot of wealth tied up in their home and this government wants those people to live off it and spend it. Its a cash grab.
    Nobody should be surprised to see the current government introduce Death Duties. They've been pretty quiet about it but a failing government will always go after any wealth they see lying around. Us!
    Karl Marx
    18th Sep 2019
    And that's why MICK, politicians & their rich top end of town mates don't have their wealth lying around as it's mostly hidden & off shore.
    18th Sep 2019
    .. yep - so they can pull the pension as well...
    18th Sep 2019
    Yes DSP is inadequate and it is criminal that it is too hard to qualify for. That government policy was set up for the wrong reasons.

    My own experience of the direction governments have gone with DSP tells me an urgent review is required. Responsible politicians need to start doing their job properly and bring in better thought out policies for our vulnerable disabled people.
    19th Sep 2019
    Did I hear 'responsible politicians'? I thought the two words were mutually exclusive....
    19th Sep 2019
    A pension is not welfare.

    Now is the season for discontent, so do something about it!
    It is time to kill off this insane hugely expensive pensioner whacking bureaucracy.

    It is time for all of us (yes that means you) to rant at our MPs and Senators daily to take action for human decency and a huge stress reduction for pensioners

    Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules.

    Hiring more Centrelink staff will only increase taxpayer’s costs for processing the creeping insane red tape monster system politicians and well paid bureaucrats have created.

    Help scrap it now. Become a hero.

    Even the UK and poorer New Zealand has a NO ASSET pension so it is cheaper and user friendly.

    Why worry that few million$ earners get it too. That is peanuts to them, not enough for a good vintage champagne.

    Do retired and retiring people really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be part of 3 million waiting queues and lost calls?

    We all (that means you) need to tell our MP and senators every day that these criminal asset tests for a pension must be dropped now.

    Does your MP really like being part of the system that allows this indirect abuse of the elderly?

    This abuse is actually sponsored by our government and forced down to Centrelink and borders on a criminal act.

    Why do MPs normally compassionate persons let this Centrelink abuse happen at taxpayers’ expense?
    Karl Marx
    19th Sep 2019
    Exactly Gray, the government would save billions but then they & their rich mates would lose out on millions of $s in private companies used to support a broken system.
    20th Sep 2019
    I believe most people would support an Increase of at least $183 per week for genuine disabled persons and an increase for their carers. this would be easily be funded by identifying and removing those not genuinely disabled and rorting the system.
    Easier said than done because the rorters have been firmly entrenched in the system and are experts in covering their tracks.
    22nd Sep 2019
    its all about a surplus and uncaring so called Christians ,looking after themselves

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