Assessing your ability to work

We assess your ability to work as part of general medical rules for Disability Support Pension (DSP).

How we assess your ability to work

We assess how your condition affects your ability to work, based on your medical evidence.

We look at all of the following:

  • if you can work at least 15 hours per week now, or in the next 2 years
  • if training would help you work in the next 2 years
  • how many hours you can work with training and support
  • if you need help to stay in work.

This includes any work that is both:

  • at, or above, the relevant minimum wage
  • in Australia, even if it’s not within your local area.

Keep in mind, work doesn’t have to be the same job you may have done before.

You may need to attend a Job Capacity Assessment.

You may need to take part in a Program of Support before you can get DSP.

Examples of how we assess your ability to work

Example 1 – Ability to retrain

Lesley has a long-term back injury. He can no longer do any work where he has to lift heavy objects. This means he can’t work in his usual job as a labourer.

Lesley applies for DSP. He attends a Job Capacity Assessment. Our assessor determines using his medical evidence that Lesley could be retrained for work that doesn’t include heavy manual tasks.

This means that with support, Lesley could find work he is able to do within the next 2 years. Due to his ability to work, Lesley can’t get DSP.

We provide support to help Lesley retrain for other work. We refer him to Disability Employment Services, which helps people with disability, illness or injury find and keep a job.

Example 2 – Unable to work 15 hours a week

Diane was self-employed. She has Parkinson’s disease and eventually had to close down her business.

Diane found another job. The employer provided special equipment to help Diane work.

Unfortunately Diane’s condition got worse. She struggled to work more than 10 hours a week, even with assistance. She applies for DSP and provides medical evidence.

Diane’s medical evidence confirms she isn’t able to work for at least 15 hours a week. As she meets the medical and non-medical rules, Diane gets DSP.

Page last updated: 3 March 2022.
QC 51261