Financial help if you are blind

Last updated: 
27 May 2020

What is financial help if you are blind

If you are blind, you may be able to receive an income support payment‌. Income support payments include:

  • Service Pension
  • Age Pension
  • Income Support Supplement; and
  • Veteran Payment‌ even if your income and assets are above the normal limits

The following payments have special rules if you are permanently blind:

  • Service Pension
  • Income Support Supplement
  • Age Pension; and
  • Veteran Payment

Who can receive income support payments due to blindness

To be assessed under the special rules we will need a report from an ophthalmologist‌ measured using the Snellen Scale saying:

  • you have total loss of sight,
  • your corrected visual acuity‌. The best vision you can achieve with glasses or contact lenses, measured using the Snellen scale.‌ is less than 6/60 in both eyes; or
  • you have visual field deficits. If you have a visual field deficit, your vision will be limited in certain directions. For example, you may have some vision around the sides but be unable to see straight ahead. That cause as much vision impairment as a corrected visual acuity of less than 6/60 in both eyes.

You may then be assessed under the special rules if you are:

  • a veteran with qualifying service‌
  • permanently blind; and
  • an Australian resident

You can be eligible for payments due to blindness even if you work.

How your payments may be affected

If you are blind, your income support payment will not be reduced because of your income or assets.

This may mean you can get an income support payment that you wouldn’t otherwise receive because your income or assets are too high.

If we pay you as a member of a couple, and you are blind but your partner is not, your combined income and assets will affect your partner's payment. This means your partner may receive a reduced rate of payment while you receive the maximum rate.

How you claim

For information about how to claim, visit:

If you already get one of these payments but we are not assessing you as blind, contact us. You will need to supply a written report from your ophthalmologist confirming your blindness.

What to tell us

If anything changes that could affect your entitlements, you need to let us know within 14 days (or 28 days if you receive the Remote Area Allowance or live overseas).

You need to tell us if you or your partner:

  • get compensation payments we don’t know about
  • leave Australia, even for a short time
  • start or stop being partnered‌‌. A partner is someone you are married to or in a marriage-like relationship with. You may be in a marriage-like relationship if you:
    • think of yourselves as a couple
    • share financial and household responsibilities
    • spend social and leisure time together; and
    • appear as a couple to the general community
  • start or stop paying rent, or change how much rent you pay
  • move into aged care
  • go into respite care for more than 14 days; or
  • go to prison, or get out of prison
  • have something else change that could affect your entitlements

If you live with a partner who is not blind, you also need to tell us if you or your partner:

  • have a change in finances, aside from minor everyday fluctuations‌. Generally, you need to tell us when the value of your total financial assets changes by approximately $2000.‌
  • start or stop working, or the amount earned changes
  • take leave from a job and don’t plan to go back
  • start or stop receiving income from somewhere, such as an income stream, a rental property or a foreign pension
  • buy or sell shares or other investments
  • buy or sell your home or another property
  • lend or give away money or other assets
  • move house
  • have a dependent child who stops studying or moves out
  • have someone else move in or out of your home
  • move into a retirement village; or
  • start or close a business

Important information

  • If you are renting, your income and assets may affect the amount of Rent Assistance you get. This does not apply if you get the Income Support Supplement‌. Blind war widow/ers are exempt from income and asset tests for all payments.‌.
  • If you are moving into aged care, you will need to give us information about your income and assets. While they may not affect your payments from us, they will affect your home care package and aged care fees‌If you get payments from us, we will do the income and assets assessment that will be used to work out your aged care fees.‌
  • There is no age requirement for the Income Support Supplement, but if you receive it due to invalidity and you are under Age Pension age‌. Age Pension age is 65-67, depending on your date of birth:
    • 65 if you were born before 1 July 1952
    • 65.5 if you were born between 1 July 1952 and 31 December 1953
    • 66 if you were born between 1 January 1954 and 30 June 1955
    • 66.5 if you were born between 1 July 1955 and 31 December 1956; or
    • 67 if you were born on or after 1 January 1957‌, it is not taxable. Service Pension and Veteran Payment are also not taxable if you are blind and under Age Pension age.
  • If you live with a partner‌. A partner is someone you are married to or in a marriage-like relationship with. You may be in a marriage-like relationship if you:
    • think of yourselves as a couple
    • share financial and household responsibilities
    • spend social and leisure time together; and
    • appear as a couple to the general community‌ and at least one of you is blind, payments will be non-taxable for both of you until one of you reaches Age Pension age.
  • If your income support payment is taxable, we will send you a payment summary at the end of the financial year. If your payment is non-taxable, we will send you a Medicare exemption certificate‌. If you are blind and get an income support payment, you may qualify for a Medicare levy exemption.‌