Social Services Minister Scott Morrison revealed yesterday that the rate at which applicants are being approved for a Disability Support Pension (DSP) has fallen to just 36.9 per cent – the lowest in a decade. This is a major turnaround compared to the 64.5 per cent approval rate of 2008-9 when 91,131 applications were approved, compared to just 41,832 in the last financial year.
Mr Morrison was required with “stopping the bludgers” in December of last year, which saw the implementation of rule changes that now affect all applicants. Any new applicant for the DSP is now required to see a Commonwealth-contracted doctor to have their claim independently assessed.
“The Abbott Government is serious about ensuring the integrity of our welfare safety net,” Mr Morrison said. “This means ensuring it is focused on those most in need of support while cracking down on those who want to game the system.”
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Last financial year there were 113,365 new applicants for a DSP. While 41,832 people were approved, a staggering 71,533 didn’t meet the requirements of the new assessment criteria for Commonwealth-contracted doctors. The number of Australians on the DSP in 2014-15 decreased to 814,391, taking us well below 2011-12 levels.
It’s clear that under the new, stricter guidelines, only the most serious of cases are now being approved, although one has to wonder how many people in genuine need have had their applications rejected. Yes, there is no doubt that a handful of ‘bludgers’, as Mr Morrison has called them, will not be approved for a DSP, but at what cost to those who may need these benefits?
It’s a worrying trend to see a government going out of its way to actively decrease the number of people who receive the DSP – a payment that has been set up as a safety net for those who need it most.
What do you think? Is the use of Commonwealth-contracted doctors for independent assessments reasonable, or do you think the agenda has been set for these doctors by the government? Do you believe that 63 per cent of DSP applicants could be “bludgers”?
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