Victoria Legal Aid

What is a program of support?

A program of support is a program you have to complete through an employment service provider before you can claim disability support pension. Find out more about programs of support.

Doing a program of support through an employment service provider is generally needed before you can get a disability support pension (DSP). Your program of support might include looking for jobs or doing some training.

How do I enrol in a program of support?

You must enrol with an employment service provider and actively attend a program of support.

You can enrol with:

To get a disability support pension you must have actively participated with a provider for a least 18 months in the previous three years before you apply for disability support pension. There are very limited exceptions to this rule.

If you get a medical exemption from doing a program of support, this period will not count towards 18 months. Unless you meet one of the limited exceptions, you must complete a total of 18 months before you can claim disability support pension.

Example 1

Sam has a back injury and depression and had to stop working. He has been on Newstart and enrolled in a program of support for 18 months. Sam got a medical exemption for about six months because he didn’t feel up to going into his employment service provider for the training.

This means Sam has only done 12 months of program of support because his six-month medical exemption period does not towards the 18-month requirement. Sam will need to do a further six months of program of support before claiming disability support pension.

What are the exceptions to completing a program of support?

You do not have to complete a program of support if you have a ‘severe impairment’. You have a severe impairment if you have a condition which scores at least 20 points on a single impairment tableExternal Link .

You may not have to do a program of support for 18 months if your employment service provider terminated your participation in the program because they could not improve your ability to find or keep work. You can also be exempt if your employment service provider decides that at the time of your disability support pension claim, any further engagement in the program of support would not improve your ability to find or keep work.

Example 2

Sam gets his doctor to write him a letter saying that his back problem scores 10 points on Table 4 and his depression scores 10 points on Table 5 for mental health.

He also gets a letter from his psychologist saying his depression is diagnosed, reasonably treated and stabilised.

Sam is required to do program of support because he does not have a severe impairment, he has 20 points under two impairment tables. Centrelink rejects his claim because he hasn’t done a program of support and Sam doesn't meet one of the exceptions. Sam should call Legal HelpExternal Link to get some further advice.

What evidence do you need to show you’ve completed a program of support?

If you have done a program of support, you can ask your employment service provider to write a letter to confirm your participation with Centrelink.

Download the disability support pension template letter to give to your employment service provider:

You can also use the Centrelink form 'Information about participation in a program of support' available on the Services Australia websiteExternal Link .

What if I don’t like my employment service provider?

If you are unhappy with your employment service provider, you can ask Centrelink to refer you to a different provider.

You can also make a complaint or suggestion by contacting the National Customer Service Line (NCSL). There is information about making a complaint about employment services on the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations websiteExternal Link .

More information

Find out more information about disability support pensionsExternal Link .

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 14 April 2023

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