Assessing functional capacity

We assess your patient’s functional capacity based on their medical evidence they give us.

If your patient claims Disability Support Pension (DSP), they need to give us medical evidence from their treating health professionals. This evidence must detail any limitations your patient has which impacts their daily functioning as a direct result of their medical condition(s).

Functional impact is a loss of functional capacity affecting your patient’s ability to work that results from the person's medical condition.

Medical evidence may include details about your patient’s functional capacity to perform daily tasks such as:

  • self-care (showering, dressing, grooming tasks)
  • household tasks (such as cleaning, cooking, vacuuming, mowing lawns)
  • decision making or concentration abilities (watching a movie, reading a book, managing finances, cooking tasks with multiple steps, shopping)
  • management of bowel/bladder
  • using their senses (visual disturbances or limitations, depth perception, reading small texts, hearing warning signals, ability to undertake conversations in loud rooms or on a phone)
  • ability to engage in social activities (attend social functions, maintain friendships, leave the home to attend regular appointments without support, use public transport)
  • mobility (use of aids, walking/standing tolerances, range of movement or whether assistance is needed from another person to manage mobility tasks)
  • impacts to their physical functioning such as endurance limitations or ability to do a task on a repetitive basis.

Services Australia allied health professionals use this medical evidence to assess your patient’s medical conditions against the Impairment Tables.

The Impairment Tables focus on functional ability, concentrating on what your patient is able to do rather than what they cannot do. The Tables are consistent with contemporary medical and rehabilitation practice.

They help assess if there will be any significant functional improvement, with or without reasonable treatment, within the next two years.

When assessing whether your patient can perform an activity, Services Australia will consider whether they can complete or sustain that activity. The allied health professional will assess how your patient would cope with the activity when they would be expected to do so, and not only once or rarely.

The Impairment Table rating system uses a points system. It is standardised across the Tables as follows:

Level of functional impact Impairment points rating
No or minimal functional impact 0 points
Mild functional impact 5 points
Moderate functional impact 10 points
Severe functional impact 20 points
Extreme functional impact 30 points
Page last updated: 27 September 2023.
QC 65092