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TRIBUNAL: Member Thompson

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) affirmed a decision made by the Department of Social Services (the Department) to reject a claim for the provision of the Disability Support Pension (DSP).

The applicant initially lodged a claim in 2019 which was rejected by the Department. She then sought a review of the decision by an Authorised Review Officer (ARO) at Centrelink.

After the ARO affirmed the original decision, the applicant requested a first-tier review by the Social Services & Child Support Division (SSCSD) of the AAT, where the decision under review was again affirmed. The applicant then applied to the General Division of the AAT for a second review of the Department’s original decision.

The Tribunal considered oral evidence provided by the applicant and documents lodged by both parties, including various medical reports. In her oral evidence, the applicant described ongoing issues including mental health conditions, addiction, a shoulder injury and bursitis. The applicant had consulted numerous health care providers for treatment over the past few years but struggled with obsessive thinking, mental and physical exhaustion, inability to concentrate and shoulder pain, which she claimed prevented her from earning a living.

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

  • the applicant has a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment
  • the impairment/s attracts 20 points or more under the Impairment Tables
  • the applicant has a continuing inability to work.

In regard to the applicant’s mental health condition, the Tribunal found that it was diagnosed but not fully treated and fully stabilised during the qualification period. As a result, a rating under the Impairment Tables could not be given. The applicant’s upper limb condition was diagnosed, however it was not fully treated and stabilised during the qualification period resulting in no rating being applied.

The Tribunal found that the applicant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that attracted a rating of at least 20 points and therefore, did not satisfy the required criteria within the meaning of the Act. Given this, the Tribunal did not consider it necessary to assess if the applicant had a continuing inability to work during the qualification period.

Read the full decision