Working while you’re getting Disability Support Pension

You may be able to work and still get Disability Support Pension (DSP).

Hours you can work

If you get DSP, you can have paid work up to 29 hours a week. You can do this without losing your DSP payment providing you meet the income test.

You must tell us if you or your partner have started work within 14 days. You must also tell us the details of that work.

If you’re permanently blind and get DSP, we don’t use the income test unless you also get Rent Assistance. This means you don’t have to tell us the hours you work or report your employment income.

If you get DSP and start working, you may be able to get a Special Employment Advance.

Suspending your DSP for 2 years

We can suspend your DSP payment for up to 2 years if either:

  • you work 30 or more hours per week
  • your income goes over the cut off point for more than 6 fortnights in a row.

We can also suspend your DSP payment for 2 years if all of the following apply. Your partner:

  • gets Age Pension or DSP
  • their employment income goes over the cut off point for more than 6 fortnights in a row.

We can’t suspend your DSP if your partner gets another payment such as JobSeeker Payment or Carer Payment. If your partner stops work or reduces their income, you can claim DSP again.

You won’t need to report your employment income if your payment is suspended.

You can keep your Pensioner Concession Card for up to 2 years during the suspension period.

We won’t suspend your DSP for working 30 or more hours per week if one of the following applies:

  • you work for an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE)
  • you work under the Supported Wage System
  • you get ongoing support from Disability Employment Services.

This means you can still get DSP, subject to the income test.

ADEs provide supported employment to people with disability. Read more about supported employment on the Department of Social Services website.

You can also find out more about the Supported Wage System on the Job Access website.

Your partner’s payment

If we suspend your DSP because you’re working, your partner may also have their payment suspended. This can happen if they get one of the following:

Your partner’s payment may also be suspended if they get one of these payments from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA):

  • DVA Age Pension
  • Income Support Supplement
  • Invalidity Service Pension
  • Veteran Payment.

You can read about these payments on the DVA website.

If we suspend your partner’s payment, they can also keep their Pensioner Concession Card for up to 2 years.

Restoring your DSP

You can ask us to restore your DSP within 2 years if either:

  • your hours and income reduce below the cut off limit for DSP
  • you stop working.

If this happens, call us on the Disability, sickness and carers line and ask for your DSP to be restored.

You must contact us within the period stated in the letter or email we sent you when your payment was suspended. If you contact us after this period, you’ll need to submit a new claim for DSP.

Rules if you work and get DSP

Income reporting

You must tell us if you or your partner start any paid work. If you don’t, we may pay you too much DSP and you’ll have a debt to pay back. We may also stop your payment.

Doing paid work can affect how much your DSP payment will be.

Your employment income also affects any Working Credit or Work Bonus you may have.

You need to report any income you and your partner get every 2 weeks unless you’re permanently blind and not receiving Rent Assistance.

You need to contact us to report your working hours if all the following apply to you:

  • you get Mobility Allowance
  • you’re working 15 hours or more per week
  • you don’t have to report your employment income.

If your circumstances change while getting Mobility Allowance you need to contact us.

If you report late, your payment will be late. If you don’t report every 2 weeks, your payment will stop.

When you report, you need to tell us about:

  • the gross income from work you and your partner received
  • the number of hours you worked.

It’s important to check pre-filled information in your report before you submit it. Learn what you must do when we pre-fill your information.

You can report income using one of the following:

If you need help with reporting your employment income, call us on the disability, sickness and carers line. When you call we’ll help you use our self service options. If you need more help, we can book an appointment at a service centre for you.

If you need help to use our digital services, we can also arrange a digital coaching appointment at a service centre.

If you work for an Australian Disability Enterprise, your employer can report your income directly to us. Read more about our Employer Reporting service.

Read more about employment income reporting.

Self-employment

If you start self-employment, we’ll assess if your self-employment is equal to 30 hours or more per week in open employment.

Depending on this, we’ll assess if you either can:

  • still get DSP subject to the income test
  • have your DSP suspended for up to 2 years.

If we assess you can still get DSP, you’ll need to tell us about your business income. You must do this within 14 days of starting self-employment.

Working Credit

Working Credit increases how much you can earn before we start reducing your DSP payments.

We calculate your Working Credit and how and when we’ll deduct these credits when you report your income. You don’t need to do anything extra.

Read more about Working Credit.

Work Bonus

If you’re Age Pension age or over and get DSP, the Work Bonus can help you keep more of your payment while you’re working.

Read more about Work Bonus.

Voluntary work

You can choose to participate in voluntary work while you’re getting DSP. This can help you develop important skills and experience so you can find paid work.

However, there’s no requirement to do so, unless you’re under 35 years of age and have voluntary work as a compulsory participation requirement.

Read more about your DSP participation requirements if you’re under 35.

Page last updated: 18 December 2023.
QC 39896