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Tribunal: Member A Burke AO

The AAT affirmed a decision a 23 year-old woman, who could no longer work as a beautician, did not qualify for the disability support pension (DSP). She had reasonable prospects for both study and work.

DSP appeals are first considered by the Social Services and Child Support Division (SSCSD) of the AAT. In this case, the SSCSD affirmed the decision to reject the claim for DSP so the applicant was able to appeal for a second review to a different division of the AAT, the General Division.

To qualify for a disability support pension the AAT must be satisfied:

  • the applicant has a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment
  • the impairment attracts (or the impairments attract) 20 points or more under the impairment tables 
  • the applicant has a continuing inability to work.[1]

Before giving an impairment rating, the underlying condition causing it must be judged permanent and likely to last for more than two years.[2] This means the condition must be fully treated and fully stabilised, among other things.[3] The word ‘stabilised’ in this context broadly refers to a condition that has reached a plateau and treating it further would not improve the person’s ability to work.[4]

A Centrelink (the Department) officer initially found the applicant ineligible because her vertigo condition was not fully treated and stabilised. The Department concluded she had not followed specialist advice to complete a block of physiotherapy to reset her sense of balance or addressed the mental health issues exacerbating the condition.

The AAT found the applicant’s vertigo was fully stabilised and treated, however based on the evidence supplied to the Tribunal, and provided at the hearing, found the condition was moderate, rather than severe, awarding her condition 10 points under the impairment tables. The applicant had returned to university part time and was independently managing her dizziness. As a result, at the time of her application, the applicant did not have a severe impairment.

Read the full decision


[1] Social Security Act 1991 (Cth), s 94.

[2] Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination, s 6(3).

[3] Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination, s 6(4).

[4] Social Security Act, s 94(2).