For Health Professionals
Medical evidence is the most important part of a DSP application, but providing it can be time consuming for health professionals. This page provides an outline of what to include in your medical report or letter to best help your patient access adequate income support.
What is the role of health professionals in DSP applications?
The Disability Support Pension (DSP) is an income support payment for people who cannot work due to long term injury, illness or disability. Many people living with disability find themselves stuck on JobSeeker Payment, required to look for work and participate in activities which aggravate their health conditions, and unable to afford the extra expenses living with disability creates. Access to the DSP – which has a higher rate and is not conditional on looking for work – is often a significant improvement to the quality of life of these people. As you may know, showing you are eligible for the DSP is challenging.
Getting the right medical evidence from health professionals is critical to successful applications. You are an expert in your patient’s health. Your evidence will likely be the difference between success and rejection.
DSP applications require supporting evidence from appropriately qualified health professionals. Some conditions/impairments have specific requirements around who can provide evidence. These are:
- Mental health conditions must be diagnosed by a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist.
- Intellectual conditions must be diagnosed by a psychologist.
- Hearing and ear conditions must be diagnosed by an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat (‘ENT’) specialist.
- Vision and eye conditions must be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist.
Medical Evidence should include
Medical evidence for DSP applications is typically in the form of a letter or report with any other relevant documents attached.
Addressing the criteria Centrelink uses to assess DSP claims directly is the best way to ensure your evidence is not misinterpreted, and the best way to show your client is eligible.
Your letter should ideally:
- State whether the condition/s are fully diagnosed
- What are the condition/s?
- When were the condition/s diagnosed?
- Who diagnosed the condition/s?
- State whether the conditions are fully treated and fully stabilised
- What treatment has been undertaken?
- Is further treatment planned?
- Are there available treatments that have not been undertaken? If so, why? (e.g. the treatment is too expensive or too risky.)
- Are the condition/s likely to improve with or without further treatment?
- Assess the level of impairment against the impairment tables by scoring at least 20 points across the tables.
- The best evidence addresses the criteria from the Impairment Tables directly.
- If you do not feel comfortable using the Impairment Tables, instead state what the patient’s condition/s prevent them from doing in their day to day life.
- Include your opinion on the patient’s work capacity
- How many hours a week can they work?
- Is this less than 15 hours?
- Include any other supporting medical documents (such as scans, medications lists, other specialist reports etc).
We have created an example letter template to guide you through the key criteria. This letter can be used by any health professional to help provide evidence for a DSP application or appeal.
Download Word document letter template
Download PDF letter template
Assessing impairment against the tables
The DSP legislation includes 15 Tables covering different areas of functional impairment. To be eligible for the DSP, the patient must have 20 points under these Tables. That could be 20 points under a single table, or 20 points in total across multiple tables.
The following steps guide you through using the Tables to assess functional Impairment:
1) Select the relevant tables for the impairments.
Tables should be selected based on functional impact; what your patient can and cannot do. You may use more than one table. e.g. If your patient has multiple conditions or a single condition that causes multiple impairments.
2) Identify the severity level based on the criteria within the table.
There are four levels of impairment severity ratings for each table: mild (5 points), moderate (10 points), severe (20 points), and extreme (30 points).
3) Explain in your letter or report why you have chosen that impairment level, with reference to the descriptors and examples.
Using the language of the tables will help ensure your evidence is not misinterpreted by decision makers without a background in health or medicine.
The links below will take you to the impairment table legislation to make your assessment against:
- Table 1 – Functions requiring Physical Exertion and Stamina
- Table 2 – Upper Limb Function
- Table 3 – Lower Limb Function
- Table 4 – Spinal Function
- Table 5 – Mental Health Function
- Table 6 – Functioning related to Alcohol, Drug and Other Substance Use
- Table 7 – Brain Function
- Table 8 – Communication Function
- Table 9 – Intellectual Function
- Table 10 – Digestive and Reproductive Function
- Table 11 – Hearing and other Functions of the Ear
- Table 12 – Visual Function
- Table 13 – Continence Function
- Table 14 – Functions of the Skin
- Table 15 – Functions of Consciousness
FAQs for health professionals
- How do I know if my patient is eligible?
- How do I assess with multiple conditions?
- Do I need to use the impairment tables to write an assessment?
- What does fully diagnosed mean?
- What does full treated or stabilised mean?
- What happens if the application is rejected?
- What is a program of support for the DSP?
Further support and resources
Read our FAQs for health professionals
Call our Worker Help Line
If you are a support worker or health professional assisting a client with a DSP issue, you can contact SSRV using the Worker Help Line. The Worker Help Line is available on 03 9481 0655.
The Worker Help Line operates Monday to Friday, between 9:00am and 5:00pm.
The Worker Help Line will provide you with information and advice about your client’s situation. If your client is eligible for other services, the Worker Help Line will let you know.
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