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Wednesday, 23 June 2004
Page: 31437

Mr Gibbons asked the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 23 March 2004:

(1) Is the Minister aware that disabled persons, for example, people with cerebral palsy or permanent intellectual disabilities, are forced to complete a Medical Service Update at regular intervals in order to receive their Disability Support Pension.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that people with cerebral palsy or permanent intellectual disabilities are not likely to experience any change in their conditions during their lifetime.

(3) Is the Minister aware of the stress and frustration the ongoing requirement to complete these forms causes to people with permanent disabilities and more particularly to the parents of disabled persons who generally have to complete the forms for their disabled adult children.

(4) Would the Minister consider providing an exemption from the ongoing requirement to complete medical forms for those disabled persons who have cerebral palsy or permanent intellectual disabilities and who are not likely to experience any change or improvement in their conditions.

Mr Anthony (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) —The Minister for Family and Community Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) This is incorrect. In December 2003 the two and five yearly cyclical Disability Support Pension reviews were replaced by `service update reviews'. These reviews are conducted for those customers whose circumstances are more likely to have changed, and can cover both medical and non-medical eligibility. Not all customers selected for a service update review will be required to undergo further assessment of their medical eligibility for the pension.

(2) While conditions like cerebral palsy or intellectual disability are present for life, it is entirely possible that the impact on a person's functional abilities and/or their capacity for gainful employment will change over time. Assessment for Disability Support Pension is about changing capacity for work, not a change in the underlying medical condition.

(3) Reviews for Disability Support Pension or any other Social Security payment obtain only such information required to determine ongoing entitlement to payment and possible eligibility for other programs of assistance.

(4) The purpose of the medical form is to determine any change in capacity for work. It would not be helpful to exempt anyone from confirmation of capacity for work simply because of the medical condition.