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Pensions: What is the difference?

The Difference Between the Age Pension (blind) and the Disability Support Pension (blind)

Elderly couple walking together

If you are currently receiving the DSP (blind), you will have the option of either remaining on this payment, or transferring to the Age Pension (blind) once you turn 65. Both the DSP (blind) and the Age Pension (blind) are paid at the same rate and follow the same income and assets test free status. At retirement age, however, both pensions are considered as taxable payments. The DSP (blind) is also considered as income when calculating for additional supplements such as rent assistance, Worker’s Compensation or Third Party damages.

The Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment are available to those on the DSP (blind) but not to those on the Age Pension (blind). These payments will affect those who choose to study in a secondary or tertiary course at an educational institution approved by the Australian Government. Incentive Allowances (payment for those receiving sheltered employment allowances) are also only available to those on the DSP (blind).

Regardless of which pension you are on, you will still be able to access the mobility allowance. If you complete a minimum of 15 hours of work-related activities in a week, however, you will receive a higher rate of allowance under the DSP (blind) than the Age Pension (blind).

The length of portability also varies depending on which payment you are receiving; with portability referring to the amount of time an individual can be absent from Australia without their payments being suspended. A portability period of up to six weeks applies to individuals on the DSP (blind), while those on the Age Pension (blind) can travel overseas for up to 6 months while still receiving their pension. Should an individual return to Australia after the specified time period, their pension will be suspended and subsequently cancelled.

Unlike those on the Age Pension (blind), however, individuals on the DSP (blind) are able to apply for indefinite portability. Indefinite portability; meaning that they are able to be absent from Australia for an unspecified period of time and will still continue to receive payments. As blindness is considered a manifest disability, individuals on the DSP (blind) may be eligible for indefinite portability without the need for a Job Capacity Assessment. If
you wish to apply for indefinite portability, you will need to contact Centrelink’s International Service (ph: 131 673) well in advance of your departure from Australia.

We hope that this article has provided you with enough information to be able to choose the payment that will best meet your needs. If you do not wish to be transferred to the Age Pension (blind) once reaching retirement age, you should contact Centrelink’s Disability and Carer’s Line on (ph: 132 717). If this change has happened automatically, you can appeal the cancellation of the DSP (blind). An individual has 13 weeks from the day advised of the cancellation to lodge the appeal.

This article was written by Thai Nguyen, Advocacy and Policy Officer for Blind Citizens Australia. Blind Citizens News, June 2014

Australian Government Department of human services


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