Tribunal: Member I Thompson
The AAT set aside a decision that a 55-year-old woman, who had not worked for ten years, did not qualify for the disability support pension. The Tribunal remade the decision and substituted its findings that her spinal condition was severe and she would struggle to find and maintain employment.
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.
Before giving an impairment rating, the underlying condition causing it must be judged permanent and likely to last for more than two years. This means the condition must be fully treated and fully stabilised, among other things. 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.
An officer of the (then) Department of Social Services (the Department) agreed the applicant had an impairment, but not that the condition was fully treated and stabilised. The Department concluded treating the applicant with untried options could still improve the applicant’s movement and capacity for work.
The AAT found the applicant’s spinal condition was severe and had been fully diagnosed at the time of the claim and in the assessment period. The AAT was satisfied that the applicant had participated in an extensive program of treatment and noted a medical condition can be considered fully treated despite the fact that treatment is continuing or being planned.
Read the full decision
 Social Security Act 1991 (Cth), s 94.
 Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination, s 6(3).
 Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination, s 6(4).