Notes on the data: Income support

Disability support pensioners, June 2016


Policy context:  Disability support payments provide an income to people of working age whose capacity for work is restricted by disability. There has been a steady increase in the number of people receiving the Disability Support Pension (DSP), although the proportion of working age people receiving the DSP has changed little in recent years (5.3% at June 2004 to 5.5% at June 2012) [1]. At June 2013, there were 821,000 DSP recipients in Australia [2].

Receipt of the DSP is strongly age-related, mainly because the incidence of disability rises with age [2]. In 2009, less than 2% of people aged 16 to 29 received DSP, but this rose with age to 5% of people in their 40s, 9% of people in their 50s and over 14% of people aged 60 to 64 years [2]. Disability rises further with increasing age over 65 years, but after 65, most people are entitled to an Age Pension and the DSP is currently no longer relevant [2].


  1. Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Social security trends: snapshot - April 2014. Strawberry Hills, NSW: ACOSS; 2014.
  2. Whiteford P. The rise and fall of "welfare dependency" in Australia. Melbourne: Brotherhood of St Laurence; 2013.

Notes:  People eligible for a Disability Support Pension (DSP) paid by the Department of Human Services (DHS), must be aged 16 years or over and have not reached age-pensionable age; be permanently blind or have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment level of 20% or more and a continuing inability to work for at least 15 hours per week.

Additional notes

The ‘Unknown’ data are calculated from the difference between the sum of the SLA data to the State/Territory totals, and include the sum of these confidentialised data.

PHA data may be the sum of freely available SA2 data if the publication of PHA data could reveal the value of confidentialised cells at the SA2 level. For these indicators, the number of people receiving this payment may be undercounted by up to four persons or either persons if two indicators are added together such as total unemployment which is the sum of Newstart and Youth allowance.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas

Numerator:  People in receipt of a Disability Support Pension from the Department of Human Services or a Service Pension (Permanently Incapacitated) from the Department of Veterans' Affairs


Denominator:  People aged 16 to 64 years


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Department of Social Services and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, June 2016; and ABS Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2015.


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