Government to target disability pension for budget cuts – fair or not? 324



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It was revealed yesterday that the Federal Government plans to crack down on access to the disability pension to prevent “rorters” from falsely claiming the pension. It is reported that this could save up to $70 million as there are up to 50,000 people living on the disability pension who would be otherwise fit for work with the correct support and rehabilitation.

The new legislation, to be introduced from January 1, means that anyone seeking access to the disability pension will have undergo an examination by a Government-appointed doctor to be deemed eligible.

Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews said that using the Government-appointed doctors will mean that there will be consistency around the level of disability required to access the pension. He said, “This measure is not aimed at those who may never be able to work, but rather at people who can work with independent advice and the right support”.

Currently, there are over 800,000 Australians claiming the disability pension despite many being able bodied and able minded for work but whom chose not to.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowel has reportedly dismissed the legislation as a “thought bubble” from Mr Andrews. He said, “Those who can’t work need support and encouragement to return to work – they do not need demonisation”.

The previous Labor government already tightened eligibility criteria for the disability pension including tougher impairment tables and job search requirements.

This leaves us faced with a big question: is this too tough in the current economic climate or is this a very necessary step?

Personally, I know a friend who is in his mid 40s – he has had a severe learning disability all of his life but despite being mentally hindered, he has a beautiful personality. All of his life, he has tried. He still went to school, he still played sports and sadly he endured bullying. But like everything, he battled through. His parents never wanted him to be reliant on government funding so they did all they could to equip him with the necessary skills to one day find a job, and he did. He works at a local office supplies warehouse greeting customers, directing them to their products and helping them with their queries.

This is a young man who has every right to be on the disability pension and in fact, he has been deemed as eligible, but he and his family have chosen not to accept. So is the issue in educating people who could be in similar roles? Do we need to teach them that they are in fact useful and can be economic contributors?

We’ve grown up in a culture that has for so long ostracised people with disabilities – those severe and not severe – so perhaps the first move is education. Educating people that are disabled and society as a whole that they are people with incredible value to offer.

The Government initiative to tighten up the eligibility requirements again is a great one – it saves the social services funding and boosts the economy. We just have to make sure that if we’re going to turn these people down from perhaps their only income source through all of their lives, that we fully commit to helping them find an alternative.


What are your thoughts on tightening the disability pension eligibility requirements? Do you think that this is fair or otherwise? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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  1. I am all for financial independence if your capable, but sadly many are not. Many disabilities remain hidden!! To the person passing on the street these people may seem quite normal , but may in fact be suffering with illnesses that can’t be seen. Labor has tightened it up already and that has not been in force for long. The hiring of Government Doctors, when our GP’S are more than capable of a diagnosis, seems a huge waste of taxpayers money

  2. ‘that this could save up to $70 million as there are up to 50,000 people living on the disability pension who would be otherwise fit for work with the correct support and rehabilitation’

    Ok, great idea… now tell me, how much will it cost to identify these people, and then provide the necessary ‘correct support and rehabilitation?’

    Support and rehabilitation doe not come cheap.

    So tell us all the TRUE cost.. pluses and minuses.. before you implement this process.

    I suspect it will cost MORE than it will save.

    But then again, I am a cynic.

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  3. Eleven years ago I applied for disability and was assessed by a Centrelink doctor. After viewing all my scans, pathology and numerous reports, it was agreed that indeed I have secondary cancer, under control and am now an aged pensioner. Surely a medical professional could make a better assessment than a lay person.

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  4. There are a lot of people out there that are on the disability pension for no other reason than they don’t have to look for work, I know quite a few.

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    • if you know people who are rorting.. you need to report them..your complicit in the act if you don’t. But I doubt very much all these people are running around discussing their medical conditions with you !!

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      • Sorry Shana but I too am amazed at the number of people who have no compunction in advising they are on the DSP but are still living ordinary lives lifting and carrying and in some cases working at hard labour for cash money, some even lifting boats from the top of caravans/motorhomes ect..

  5. This is designed to to get people off the DSP and on to Newstart where they get less money. It is not easy to get the DSP despite what many may think for instance you cannot get the DSP if you have cancer. We have the highest unemployment for 12 years with this Abbot Government, able bodied people can’t get work so how will these sick people ever find a job? Abbott promised he would create a million new jobs ( another lie), instead he is working his way to putting a million out of work

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    • A thought just occurred to me.. how many doctors would they have to hire to cover every town around Australia? and how much would that cost?

    • In our town we have to travel 400 klm to be assessed in Adelaide. If you don’t go over for the assessment they refuse you. End of story. So if you don’t have the mobility to travel the distance you are stuffed. We have a coach which comes through once a day. Plus you need overnight accommodation in Adelaide. So the cost is also prohibitive.

    • I am sure there many outback towns like yours Ruth..I can’t comprehend if it has been tightened why they would force sick people to go through this testing again

  6. About time they looked into their own pay.If they were paid by performance we would not be in the excreta that we are today and they would all be under the minimum wage like the majority of the real doers are in Aust today.

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    • I opened the news this AM and all I am seeing is Abbott defending Peta Credlin ( who no one elected). What about the mess they are creating in our country? NO ONE seem to be reporting that. Yes your right, they are to busy making everyone else’s life miserable when they are the ones who deserve a pay cut

    • I shudder at the thought of what the outcome would be if a performance toe cutter gang went through Canberra like a packet of salts

    • Start looking after the people laying their lives on the line every day first before the gutless wonders wonders who send them there start to live like fat hogs on their huge pensions.if that’s not getting a free ride on the country then nothing is.BLUDGERS!!!!

    • What have all these comments got to do with the issue in question. Can we please keep to the subject and not use the political soapbox to put your views across.

    • you own this website Christine O’ Shea? because you certainly don’t own me.. stop telling others what to do if your just a poster here like the rest of us

    • Well said Marv! You have earned a new(?) nickname. Marvellous Marv. Truer words are rarely spoken.

  7. A big problem with this is family doctors signing their forms so making them see a government Dr is a good idea

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    • I think you will find that the “government” doctor will simply be the family doctor being paid an extra bonus to do the work. They won’t be specifically hiring hundreds of doctors who’s sole job is to work for the government.

  8. What an insult to our wonderful G Ps.

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    • No, this is not an insult to our wonderful GPs– only the guilty ones who have been passing the fraudsters enabling them to obtain taxpayers money to bludge on society.

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      • 20 years ago as a result of landing on my tail bone on a railway line at work several years before, I refused to sue, preferring to stay at work. I had ongoing medical attention for it & it’s still with me today.
        At 52 years old, I was unemployed & the system then gave potential employers the right to ask for your medical records. You can refuse but that prettywell indicates you have something to hide & you’re not considered for the job.
        Realizing people were not going to risk all the potential of someone my age & my back failing, I was sent to the government doctor & check & tested. The results sent to Centrelink
        The report recommended that due to accelerated erosion of several of my lower vertebra, I was not to lift or carry objects above 15 kgs & that prospective (Jobs) need to have a provision where I could “change positions & move around at regular intervals”
        I have always been a manual worker as I was a poor student & this report, I thought, pretty much made me an island. Not so. I was sent out to find work, & then, with Centrelink having my medical report to pass on to any employer, I never did get another permanent job.
        If people think it’s easy to get the DSP, I doubt they have ever tried. It’s not.
        Once again, I think the focus is on the 5-10% of suspects that appear to be rorting the system.
        Nothing is perfect, & that goes for human talent & failure.

    • I said an insult to our wonderful G Ps Christine not our, very few, bad G Ps. And you think there are not going to be any bad Government Drs.

  9. Also designed I think to remove the local “friendly” GP from signing the forms willy-nilly. Certain ethnic communities are well known for this happening, highlighted by 2 high profile cases in recent times (Mr. Habib holidaying in Pakistan and the latest being a Macedonian man being allowed to live permanently overseas whilst this does not apply to the majority of other recipients). So, a true independent assessment by a medical doctor is a step in the right direction. My son was offered the DSP initially due to his CP, got the points and was then told he was “too smart” to receive it. I never encouraged him to apply and he is now one of Australia’s top young executives. Sorry for the rant, but having actually read the Legislation, it should be made public that addicts are allowed the flexibility of up to 15 hours a weeks to seek out their drugs on the DSP, so yes, a radical overhaul is required.

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  10. They have targeted the disabled from day 1 in office and I am sure they have made many people sicker than what they already were with stress. They are putting a price of $5.00 for a GP visit, what they now appear to be saying is that our GP’s can’t diagnose properly. Not much of an endorsement of the GP’S of Australia

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