Around 40 percent of people receiving Australia’s Disability Support Pension (DSP) would no longer qualify, as the federal government on Saturday announced sweeping reform to tighten eligibility.
Announcing the reforms on Saturday, Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin said the changes mean chronic pain and obesity will no longer be considered grounds in themselves for eligibility of the DSP, with sufferers assessed on their capacity to perform certain tasks.
People suffering from hearing impairment will also be tested with their hearing aid turned on.
The new tables published on Saturday will not affect existing recipients, but will only apply to new recipients after January 1, 2012.
Macklin said the reform will see many struggling with obesity, chronic pain and hearing impairment return to the workforce.
“The disability pension should be there for people when they need it, but if people are able to work and with support can work, we certainly want to see them working,” she told Australia Associated Press in Melbourne on Saturday.
“The objective of the impairment table … is to assess people’s ability to work and to demonstrate, what they can do, not what they can’t do.”
“We’ve done (this) with very significant input from medical and rehabilitation experts, disability advocates.”
While about 800,000 Australians are currently receiving the DSP, Centrelink, a statutory authority responsible for delivering human services on behalf of agencies of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, estimates that 38 percent of those recipients would not qualify for the pension under the reform.