The Abbott government's landmark review into the welfare system has suggested that only people with a permanent disability and no capacity to work should receive the disability support pension.
In response, the Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has said that the ''real issue'' with the DSP is that it has been a ''set and forget payment'' and that some people on it may be able to do some work.
The McClure review's discussion paper, released on Sunday, also highlighted that there is a growing number of people receiving DSP who have a mental illness, which it says can be ''episodic'' in nature.
The recent debate about the disability pension has also included newspaper headlines about ''Disabling rorters'' and ''Slackers'' - which has seen disability advocates, such as People with Disability Australia's Craig Wallace fire back: ''we are not rorters, we are not slackers''.
As the debate about the DSP continues, with the public submissions now open for the McClure review and its first round table in Canberra next week, we ask who is on the DSP? Why? And for how long?
Data from the Department of Social Services shows as of June 2013, 821,738 people were on the DSP out of a total population of about 23.5 million.
The DSP pays $766 a fortnight for a single person. To qualify, a person must be 16 years or over and under the age pension age. They must either be blind (this is singled out due to a historical legacy) or have an impairment that means they cannot work 15 or more hours a week for the next two years or undertake training in that time.
The first interactive graph above - which plots the growth of the disability support pension alongside population since 1974 - shows the number of people on the DSP has outstripped population growth. In part this has been attributed to the ageing of the population, changes to other benefits, and the increasing of the age of eligibility for the age pension.
In 2011 the Gillard government tightened some of the eligibility requirements around the disability pension and numbers have dropped slightly, by 0.7 per cent, from June 2012 to June 2013.
The data also confirms a marked increase in the number of people with psychological and psychiatric conditions on the DSP since 2001. More than 31 per cent of those on the DSP have a psychological/ psychiatric illness listed as their main condition. The compares with 26 per cent for musculo-skeletal and connective tissue (for example, bad backs and arthritis) and 12 per cent for an intellectual or learning disability.
The proportion of DSP recipients listing psychological/psychiatric overtook musculo-skeletal for the first time in 2011.
As National Disability Services chief executive Ken Baker notes, there is an increasing public awareness of mental health conditions.
''There is a greater sensibility and awareness of mental health and there's probably less stigma so people are more willing to declare it,'' he said.
A significant proportion of DSP conditions come under ''other'' – and this is the third biggest group. This includes a wide range of conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, congenital abnormalities and those related to the immune and respiratory systems.
The largest group on the DSP is between 55 and 64 years of age, before it drops right off at 65. Mr Baker explains that the older you are, the more likely you are to have a disability but that from 65, most people go on to the age pension.
The 55 to 64-year-old grouping is also boosted by containing the hefty baby boomers cohort.
We also learn from the data that as per the government's rhetoric, people tend to spend a lengthy time on the DSP.
As of June 2013, more than 56 per cent had been on the DSP for 10 years or more. Eighteen per cent had received the disability pension for 20 years or more.
This is to be expected, says Mr Baker.
''For many people, we're talking about life-long disability.''
But he adds the time people spend on the DSP also reflects the lack of job opportunities for people with disabilities.
''It does seem to me that that is the missing part in the welfare to work equation at present. We need to do a lot more ensuring that people's pathways to employment are robust.''
Just over 8 per cent of those on the DSP in June 2013 reported some earnings to the government. Of that, 5 per cent earned $500 or less a fortnight.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 53 per cent of working age Australians with a disability participated in the workforce in 2012. This compares with 83 per cent of non-disabled Australians.
Gender and marital status
There have been more men on the DSP than women over the past four decades. But over the past 20 years, there have been an increasing proportion of women on the disability pension. In part this is due to the closing of wife and widow pensions, an increase in the age pension age and tightening of eligibility around the parenting payment. Given that men have historically worked more, they have also been more susceptible to workplace injuries.
The Department of Social Services data also shows that as at June 2013, 27 per cent of recipients are married or in a de facto relationship, while 28 per cent owned a home. Seventy six per cent were born in Australia with the next biggest group (4.6 per cent) born in Britain or Ireland.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the growth in the DSP has largely kept track with population growth.