Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The DSP medical reviews - 90,000 people over three years

Severely disabled man told to prove he couldn't work by Centrelink
I didn't know much about it so I looked it up on the dept of human services site. Firstly, there are exemptions to having your Disability Support Pension reviewed by the gov. It appears that if you were granted the DSP under the new rules bought in by the Labor gov in 2012, and it was plainly obvious even under those rules that you qualified for the DSP, then you're exempt. 

Other than that, it seems that anyone on the DSP is up for grabs for a review.

So we're talking about Centrelink, that great monolithic structure that barely functions on the best of days, choosing people to be reviewed under the new 2012 rules. People who are supposed to have perhaps a capacity for working. Nope, can't see anything going wrong there....
From 1 July 2016, there will be additional medical reviews of Disability Support Pension (DSP) customers undertaken over 3 years.

Reviews will include certain DSP customers who are most at risk of not meeting eligibility criteria. The Department will use a risk profiling based approach to select people for review. Reviews will apply the current DSP qualification criteria using the January 2012 revised Impairment Tables.

Under this measure, DSP customers will have a comprehensive review of their medical qualification for DSP.

Customers granted on manifest grounds under current manifest rules and people working in Australian Disability Enterprises or under Supported Worker Systems will be excluded. Dept of Human Services
Unless of course you're one of the people who obviously can't work but still haven't gone through the 2012 tests, you may very well find yourself up for review. Evidently these aren't isolated cases. Like this one, who was obviously not "most at risk of not meeting eligibility criteria":
A report in The Age at the weekend that a severely disabled man who has been in state care since 1999 was ordered by Centrelink to prove his eligibility for a pension was distressing for all who read it, but of course so much more traumatic for this man and his family. 

Andrew Johnson, 30, cannot speak; has autism, Tourette syndrome, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and epilepsy; and needs a stomach tube to help him feed. Despite this, his case was included in a widespread crackdown on disability support recipients. Essentially, Mr Johnson was told he must prove why he was not out working, rather than receiving the disability pension. 

The review, delivered without warning via an officious letter from Centrelink, not surprisingly put Mr Johnson's family under a huge amount of stress as they scrabbled to find decades old medical documents and other evidence of his severe impairment. 

While the review was eventually dropped after intervention from Mr Johnson's gastroenterologist, letters to The Age confirm this cruel and farcical situation is not a one-off. The government is reviewing 90,000 disability support recipients for their ability to work, following welfare changes in the 2016 federal budget. Centrelink says the target group for the reviews is current disability support pension recipients who have not been assessed in the past two years. 

While we understand and support the need to ensure public money is wisely spent, the case of Andrew Johnson highlights the need for compassion, sensitivity and simple common sense, in reviewing support for the disabled. 

Even the most fleeting glance at Mr Johnson's records should have ruled him out of any need to repeat proof of his entitlement for a pension. Those at Centrelink responsible for the decision to review his situation certainly owe Mr Johnson's family an apology. 

Anecdotal evidence shows there are many other cases which ought be excluded from such a review. The Age  
Thing is when Centrelink comes calling you have no power. If they say jump you have to try even if you're disabled :s  If you don't comply and get through all the hoops they'll just stop your payments and you starve. Resistance is futile. Some moron deep within the Centrelink bowels orders a review that is blatantly bullshit, and there's just nothing you can do about it.

Under 2012 rules only about 25% of DSP applicants are successful (including me BTW) which begs the question; is the gov trying to cut 75% of people off the DSP?

Wouldn't it be nice if politicians had to go through all of this to get their pay?  

In any case, if you feel you may cop some nutty review, my advice would be to make sure all the reports and the like are accessible and centralised with your GP. It will make things much easier if the time comes.