Tribunal: Member Deborah Mitchell

The Department of Social Services (the Department) rejected the applicant’s claim for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) for the impairments pancreatitis, epilepsy and anxiety. An Authorised Review Officer within the Department affirmed this decision. The applicant applied to the AAT for a review of the decision.

DSP appeals are first considered by the Social Services and Child Support Division (SSCSD) of the AAT. The SSCSD affirmed the decision to reject the claim for DSP. DSP decisions may be appealed to a different division of the AAT, the General Division, for second review. The applicant appealed to the General Division of the AAT for a second review.

To qualify for the payment of DSP the AAT must be satisfied that:

the applicant has a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment

the impairment(s) attract 20 points or more under the impairment tables

the applicant has a continuing inability to work.[1]

Both parties agreed the applicant suffered from the impairments he claimed. The AAT had to establish whether the applicant’s impairments attracted 20 points or more under the impairment tables. The impairment tables are designed to determine the level of impact impairments have on an individual claiming the DSP.[2] The crucial factor in this case was the fact that to be assigned an impairment rating, the applicant’s impairment(s) must be permanent.[3] To be permanent, the impairment must be fully treated and fully stabilised, among other things.[4] The word ‘stabilised’ in this context broadly refers to the requirement that further reasonable treatment for conditions would not result in improvements that would enable the applicant to work.[5]

Having regard to the medical evidence before it, the AAT found that the applicant’s pancreatitis, epilepsy and mental health condition were not fully treated or fully stabilised and therefore could not be considered permanent.

Because the AAT concluded the conditions were not permanent, the AAT was unable to assign impairment points for the conditions and the applicant did not qualify for the DSP.

The AAT affirmed the decision to reject the claim for DSP.

Read the full decision on AustLII.

 

 

[1] Section 94 of the Social Security Act 1991

[2] Section 5(2) of the Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011

[3] Section 6(3) of the Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011

[4] Section 6(4) of the Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011

[5] See the full definition in Section 6(6) of the Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011