Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Return to homepage

DSP and employment support

Skip to sub navigation

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) can support people with intellectual disability to work.

Getting the DSP

The DSP is a government payment for people with disability who can’t work or who need support to work.

The Australian Government knows that most people with intellectual disability need support to work. This is why people with intellectual disability get the DSP.

When someone applies for the DSP, Centrelink usually asks them to do a test called a Job Capacity Assessment (JCA). This helps Centrelink work out:

  • if they’re eligible for the DSP
  • how many hours they can work
  • the type of job support it offer them.

A Job Capacity Assessment has no impact on a person’s NDIS Plan. They can still get employment support in their NDIS plan whether or not they receive employment support through Centrelink.

Work capacity

When Centrelink decides if someone can get the DSP, it looks at whether they need support to work.

Centrelink decides how many hours a week it thinks someone can work. This is also called their future work capacity.

If Centrelink decides someone can work less than 15 hours a week, they will be able to get the DSP.

If Centrelink decides someone can work more than 15 hours a week in a regular job without support, they won’t be able to get the DSP.

Working with support

The Australian Government used to assume that people with intellectual disability could not work at all. Or that if they could, it would only be in an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE).

Even now, an ADE is the only employment program the Australian Government offers to people with intellectual disability who are assessed as being able to work up to seven hours a week without support.

If this applies to your young person and they want to get a regular job, they can still ask Centrelink for support from a Disability Employment Services (DES) provider. They can apply, but Centrelink may not accept them.

If Centrelink says your young person’s future work capacity is between eight and 14 hours a week, then they will automatically be offered support from a DES provider.

If your young person is manifestly eligible for the DSP, they can still ask for support to work. They won’t be penalised though if they say that they can’t work at all.

The two-year rule of DES

Centrelink or a DES provider might think that it will take someone longer than two years to have enough skills to have a future work capacity of eight or more hours a week.

If this happens, they won’t be able to get support from a DES provider. This is because the rules of DES say that people need to be ready to work within two years.

While this might be disappointing, it doesn’t mean that your young person won’t be able to get support from a DES provider in the future. They can also use their NDIS plan to develop more work skills and experience.

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is a payment the Australian Government makes to people with a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric condition.
Read more
A Job Capacity Assessment (JCA) is a test Centrelink uses when people apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP).
Read more
Work capacity is Centrelink’s assessment of how many hours of work you can do a week without support. Future work capacity is Centrelink’s assessment of how many hours you could work if you got Disability Employment Service (DES) support for up to two years.
Read more
An Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE) is a type of employment support for people with disability who need significant support to work.
Read more
Disability Employment Services (DES) is the Australian Government’s employment service that can help people with disability find work and keep a job in open employment.
Read more
The manifest medical rules for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) are rules about what conditions make you automatically eligible for the DSP.
Read more

A project by Inclusion Australia

Subscribe to the Inclusion Australia newsletter to stay up to date