Review rejects  Hawkins  appeal
Denied pension: Prue Hawkins. Picture: Rob Duncan/The West Australian

Former Telethon child Prue Hawkins has been denied the disability support pension - again.

Ms Hawkins, who has osteogenesis imperfecta or "brittle bone disease", was working as a Legal Aid lawyer until her contract ended in February.

The 33-year-old reapplied for the disability pension while she tried to find a new job - no easy task, given her severe physical restrictions.

Much to her surprise, her claim was rejected last month on grounds she was not impaired enough.

"I was in absolute shock when the guy from Centrelink rang me," Ms Hawkins said. "I actually thought it was someone having a joke."

_The West Australian _queried the decision with the Department of Human Services, prompting minister Marise Payne to order a review of the claim.

Ms Hawkins learnt the results of that review on Monday.

"Apparently I still don't have enough magical points on the impairment table," she said.

"The crux of their argument is that because I've proved that I have capacity to work, that essentially shuts all the doors.

"There's no consideration of the difficulties of seeking further employment, there's no consideration of further medical problems or higher living expenses.

"It's a case of, 'you've worked before and you can work again, so go away'."

Ms Payne said her department could not grant payments outside the legislation.

New eligibility criteria introduced in 2012 put more emphasis on an applicant's ability to work.

"I am advised Ms Hawkins is receiving the appropriate Centrelink support payment for her circumstances," she said.

"As minister, I do not have the authority to overturn decisions made in accordance with the law.

"Changes to the impairment tables were introduced by the previous government on January 1, 2012.

"The changes mean that if someone has demonstrated they are capable of full-time work, even if they have a serious medical condition, it is unlikely that person will be eligible for DSP."

Ms Hawkins, who is receiving the Newstart Allowance, said the changes to the impairment tables acted as a disincentive for disabled people to seek employment.

Ms Hawkins said that she was lucky she had a family who would support her until she found work.

"What about the people out there who aren't as lucky as I am? What happens to them," she said.

"I know there are people out there who try to abuse the system but that doesn't mean this is OK.

"They're dealing with people's lives here, in quite a significant way."

'Apparently I still don't have enough magical points on the impairment table.'" *Prue Hawkins *

The West Australian

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