Disabled may be $166 short

YOUNG people on a disability pension could be $166 a week worse off if they are moved onto the dole as part of the government’s crackdown on welfare in tonight’s budget.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews said people under 35 who went on the disability pension under “less rigorous” rules between 2008 and 2011 would be reassessed.

“If people are capable of working let’s encourage them to work rather than sitting on welfare,” he said.

If disability pensioners under 35 are able to do eight or more hours of work a week, they will be required to do activities such as work experience, education and training or work for the dole, he said.

As well as tightening the eligibility for disability payments, there will be a ban on recipients travelling overseas for more than four weeks.

The Newstart payment is $255 a week, while the disability support pension is $421 a week.

Disability advocates want the 28,000 people who will be reassessed to be helped into work rather than put on the dole.

Disabilities Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes said the government had a “shameful” record of employing people with disabilities.

About 15 per cent of workers have a disability but only about 3 per cent in the public service do.

“We don’t want a welfare plan, we want a jobs plan,” Mr Innes said.

“That’s what the government should be focusing on, rather than trying to punish people who are already struggling.”