Friday, 7 February 2014

Newstart or Disability Support Pension?

I want to work, but I can't. I need operations for injuries sustained through hard work over many years. At the moment, I receive the Newstart benefit. I believe that I would qualify for a Disability Support Pension (DSP) if I had someone help me to document my illness and injury and the effect it has on my day-to-day life.

Here is a list of my injuries.
• Right elbow - A screw in my right elbow from a roller skating break when I was a kid (Story to come). I have had 3 operations so far for compressed nerves. When the nerves grow back they compress on the screw in the bone. The pain and doctor visits are ongoing - I need something done to them about every two years.

• Right hand – My right wrist has a ligament detached from the bone causing pain and swelling. I can't use a computer mouse. I have arthritis in my right index and ring fingers. I find it hard to hold a pen and my hand aches. The next operation I need is on my right wrist.

• I have plates in my left arm from the hit-and-run accident. I have had two operations for tennis elbow and two carpal tunnel operations so far.

• Left ankle – In my left ankle I have a screw in the tibia from a fall through a roof (Another story).

• Right foot - My right ankle has a chip in the bone and a torn ligament, the bone rubs. I can't walk easily on this foot. The next operation after my wrist will be this ankle. I cannot ever wear steel cap boots again. I have a lump under my right foot, from wearing boots, that needs removal.

• Spine – I have a 50-degree curvature of the spine from working in the meatworks as a teenager. This is painful, especially as I sleep in the back seat of my car.

• Thyroid - Graves disease in pregnancy has left me with thyroid problems. The result is depression if I am not medicated. The medication must be kept in a fridge, which I do not have access to. At the moment, one of the charities that help me sometimes stores the medication in their fridge. This means that I have to drive to the charity each day and it costs me petrol.

• Liver – I have hemochromatosis of the liver. That means that my body absorbs and stores too much iron. The extra iron builds up in organs, especially the liver, and can cause serious damage. Without treatment, the disease can cause organs to fail. I need regular venisections – where the blood drains - otherwise I rust… Haha, I mean otherwise I get very tired.

So, I don't qualify for DSP. I would really like to work, but I am not qualified in anything and my body couldn't use a computer, carry or wash plates or be on my feet for long periods. 

Just after my car accident I was on the DSP. I was told after a while that I was not injured anymore, so they cut me off. So I went back to work. I have tried, I really have, to stay self-sufficient. I did work and pay taxes for many years.

I am on Newstart allowance. I need to pay health insurance and car insurance and car maintenance costs. I use a pre-paid mobile phone. The phone allows me to manage my money, pay my bills and is a lifeline to the outside world. I have found enormous help from people on twitter via the phone… without the phone I might not have a conversation with another human for days.

I spend $5 per day on food, and use what is left for petrol. If I don't have money for petrol I can't go anywhere – this means no showers, no visits to the charities, no doctor appointments. It means that I cannot move my home (the car) to a safe place if someone makes me feel unsafe. If I need toiletries, I can only buy them when I when have spare dollars. I buy gas for cooking and pay for rego and car repairs if I have the money. The health insurance doesn't cover all of the cost of the operations, I need to pay for the gaps and excess for the operations.

So - how to survive? I can't work it out. I am not disabled, so I don't qualify for the DSP. Therefore I am forced to be on Newstart. It is a joke right? This is supposed to be the lucky country. We homeless are the invisible people. The government just ignores us. I have paid taxes my whole life. It sucks.


  1. Hi Kath
    I understand what you are going through, I have had this problem for 4 years however I do have a roof ever my head.
    I receive rent assistance of $120 a fortnight which gives me $640 in total.
    I pay $400 rent which leaves me with $240.
    Out of that that I pay $20 to Centrelink which was a loan to pay an electricity bill.
    Then medication, car rego and insurance, petrol, electricity, pre paid mobile, food and tests the doctor keeps ordering.
    I have a degenerative spine in the neck, bone on bone, exposed nerves, osteoarthritis and suffer constant migraines. I also have a degenerative lumber spine with exposed and crushed root nerves which is always painful, a fractured joint and sciatica.
    I am know slow release tramadol and slow release morphine while I sit on a waiting list to see my Neurosurgeon (have been waiting for 2 years in the public system)
    Centrelink recognise that I have a disability but won't pay me for it until a specialist looks at me.
    I have been forced to work 15 hours a week, I have worked for 6 months in a large hardware store in the paint department. Heavy lifting is involved and climbing up and down ladders which has made my condition worse.
    I have not worked the last 3 weeks as my employer said business is quiet.
    So from earning $470 a week (which is livable) I am now back to $320 a week and have to find another job!
    I am so depressed with everything that is happening, its just not right.
    I want to work but cannot find anything suitable with my disability.
    I live in a county town with no transport so I cannot sell my car for extra cash.
    I am really annoyed with how I am treated as an a Australian.

  2. Hi Kat, I am disabled and I am a big fan of the Out and About App ( It has helped me to find ways to access my community better and plan a great day out.

  3. I am so sorry to read of the distressing situation of Kath and anonymous31/5/14.

    My health situation and work situation is very similar to anonymous. I couldn't get DSP.

    I am very lucky to have a roof over my head. An acquaintance has taken me in but doesn't really want me here. I won't describe my living situation as it is too gross. I pay rent to the acquaintance. I have nowhere else to go.

    I am 55 years old and alone. I am so sorry for anyone who is worse off than me. At least I have a roof for now.

  4. It can be really frustrating if you get denied after you applied for disability. But I wonder if you reviewed the criteria. Usually, this is what the institutions base their qualifications, like the salary bracket, or the severity of your condition. I think they must be one of the reasons why you got denied. Or was the reason stated in the rejection notice? So, what are you planning now?

    Patricia Briggs @ Source Brokerage, Inc.

  5. Oh my! I’m so sorry to hear all about your injuries. However, despite all of those, you shouldn't think that you aren't capable of doing anything. Just look on the brighter side of life, because it is still good to you. Every driver should always be careful and practice safety all the time in order to avoid any accidents. Anyway, thanks for sharing that! I wish you all the best!

    Faith Brady @ KHunter LAw

  6. Knowing all about the injuries you sustained after your accident is really shocking. I’m sorry that you had to experience that kind of suffering, but don’t think that you wouldn't be capable of doing things anymore. You remained alive for a good purpose, and that's what's of utmost importance. In any way, thanks for sharing that, Janine! Be strong and take care always!

    Jerry Brady @ Lambert And Williams

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