Disability pension

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A disability pension is a form of pension given to those people who are permanently or temporarily unable to work due to a disability. It is distinct from welfare.

North America[edit]

An example of a disability pension is from a private or Public Pension Plan, or the Canada Pension Plan. Another example is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in the United States.

Generally, there is a minimum time of service required to be eligible for the disability retirement benefit. The claimants might be directed to sign a waiver for their medical records to be disclosed and commonly is scheduled for an independent medical evaluation (IME) to confirm they are permanently disabled. The pension is calculated based on years worked, so the disability retiree can retire earlier (since they are unable to work), but receives an equitable pension based on years of service.



Australian residents of working age who are unable to work for 15 hours a week for the next two years are eligible for the Disability Support Pension. Those intending to claim the DSP need to provide a report from their treating doctor.[1]

Beneficiaries of the Disability Support Pension receive significantly more than those on unemployment benefits; as of 1 January 2009 the basic rate is A$562.10 per fortnight for singles and A$469.50 for each member of a couple.[2]

The Disability Support Pension, previously known as the Invalid Pension, were first introduced in the state of New South Wales in 1908. The Commonwealth government introduced a nationwide Invalid Pension on December 5, 1910.[3] [4]

Australians who are temporarily unable to work due to illness, injury or a short-term disability may be eligible for Sickness Allowance.[5] Sickness Allowance pays less than the DSP; as of 1 January 2009, single recipients were entitled to a basic rate of A$449.30 per fortnight and couples A$405.30 for each person.[6]

Like all Australian social security payments, eligibility for the DSP and the Sickness Allowance is not dependent on individual contributions; rather, benefits are paid out of general Commonwealth government revenue.[7]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand income support exists for people with physical or mental health issues. The two main disability benefits are the Sickness Benefit, and the Invalid's Benefit. A doctor's referral and medical certificate (or equivalent) is needed to claim the benefits. The Invalid's Benefit is for someone who has a severe disability, and/or long term sickness, which is paid slightly more than the Sickness Benefit. In addition, there is the Disability Allowance, to supplement medical costs. If the Disability Allowance does not pay for all medical costs, then Temporary Additional Support is provided, but obtaining it is more difficult. All of these benefits have maximum limits, depending on such things as income (both the individual and their partner) and cash assets. Note that the Sickness Benefit and Invalid's Benefit are for people aged less than 65 but the Disability Allowance is for anyone over 18 years.


United Kingdom[edit]

The United Kingdom equivalents are:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which is a benefit for children who have walking difficulties or need personal care due to physical, mental or sensory disability. It was historically also available to people of working age (up to the age of 65)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is a new benefit for people of working age (between 18 and state pension age), who need help with personal care and/or mobility due to physical or mental disability. PIP will continue to be paid to claimants after they reach state pension age.
  • Attendance Allowance (AA) which is a benefit for people over the state pension age (65), who need help with personal care due to physical or mental disability. Since PIP claims continue beyond pension age, AA will effectively be gradually superseded, taking a couple of decades to fade away.

In order to cover loss of income from illness and disability, there is also Statutory Sick Pay, and its long term equivalent - Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The new Universal Credit scheme will include an equivalent element for those with long-term unfitness to work; ESA will consequently be abolished by the roll out of Universal Credit.


  1. ^ Centrelink (2007-12-13). "Who can get Disability Support Pension?". Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  2. ^ Centrelink (2008-12-16). "How much Disability Support Pension do I get?". Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  3. ^ "Commonwealth Old-Age and Invalid Pensions Schemes", by T.H. Kewley, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society (1953) p153
  4. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (1971-01-01). "1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 1971: History of Pensions and Other Benefits in Australia". Archived from the original on 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  5. ^ Centrelink (2007-02-09). "Sickness Allowance". Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  6. ^ Centrelink (2008-12-16). "How much Sickness Allowance do I get?". Archived from the original on 2008-07-26. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  7. ^ Social Security Administration (United States) (2004). "Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Asia and the Pacific, 2004". Retrieved 2009-01-10.