From 1 January 2013 portability for DSP recipients is limited to 6 weeks. However, different rules apply to DSP recipients who are:
DSP recipients with a severe and permanent impairment and no future capacity to work are eligible for indefinite portability of their pension. DSP recipients applying for portability under these provisions are required to undergo a portability assessment which includes an assessment of their impairment and their future work capacity (JCA) before departure. As part of this assessment, a DSP recipient is required to provide medical information.
Generally, those recipients who are overseas will need to return to Australia to undergo a portability assessment under these provisions unless they are unable to return to Australia because they have had a serious accident, or been hospitalised, before the end of their current portability period.
DSP may be payable overseas indefinitely if a recipient is assessed under the SSAct section 23(4B) as severely disabled and is terminally ill. A recipient needs to provide medical information before their departure if they are intending to travel overseas for more than 6 weeks.
If a recipient's portability is likely to be affected by their level of disability (i.e. they are terminally ill and severely disabled) this should be ascertained before they leave Australia.
If a recipient is not terminally ill at the time of leaving Australia, but becomes terminally ill during the first 6 weeks of an absence, the pension may be portable indefinitely once the recipient has provided medical evidence.
Note: If a recipient has provided medical information but is not considered to be terminally ill and remains unable to return to Australia they may be able to make use of discretionary provisions in the SSAct section 1218C to extend their portability period.
In some cases where medical information is not available before departure, DSP will stop after 6 weeks unless relevant medical information is received by Centrelink.
When a recipient is no longer medically qualified for DSP after a pre-departure medical assessment (review), their DSP should be cancelled and they should be advised immediately of this decision. They must also be advised of the arrangements for termination of their payment and their appeal rights.
If a person who is overseas ceases to medically qualify for indefinite portability as a DSP terminally ill and severely disabled recipient, or as a severely disabled recipient with no future work capacity, but still qualifies for DSP, the new portability period of 6 weeks starts on the day the recipient ceases to be terminally ill/severely disabled.
Note: It is possible for this period to be extended in extreme or unforeseen circumstances as it is now a limited period.
DSP recipients going to an agreement country may be entitled to more than 6 weeks portability. If a recipient's portability under an agreement is likely to be affected by their 'severely disabled' status, this should be ascertained before they leave Australia.
Last reviewed: 2 January 2013