Service Pensions for Australian Veterans
Veterans who actively served in roles where they were exposed to danger from the enemy in World War II or later conflicts, can apply to the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs (“DVA”) for a Service Pension.
The Service Pension is of equivalent amount and subject to the same financial means testing as the Age Pension available from Centrelink. But the Service Pension entitlement age is generally 5 years lower than the Age Pension Age.
Thus a male veteran with ‘qualifying service’ could become entitled to a Service Pension when he attains age 60 years rather than wait until he is 65 years old. The earlier entitlement age is a recognition of the hardships endured and the consequent impact on the veteran’s general health.
Qualifying service includes service with the Australian Defence Force (or with a Commonwealth or Allied Force or as a mariner) that involved incurring danger from the enemy in World War II, or having rendered certain operational service in later conflicts.
If you have served in any role which might be considered to have been ‘qualifying service’ you may ask DVA to assess your claim for ‘qualifying service’. You can ask for an assessment of ‘qualifying service’ at any time; you do not need to wait until you attain the minimum age for a Service Pension.
Disability Pensions for Veterans
Veterans who suffer from medical conditions directly related to their service with the Australian Defence Forces could be eligible for the Disability Pension. The rate of Disability Pension payable depends on the assessed level of disability attributable to your service with the Australian Defence Forces.
Sadly some veterans returned to Australia with significant injuries and are clearly suffering from disabilities resulting from their ‘qualifying service’. These veterans are readily assessed for the Disability Pension.
Many veterans have later discovered health issues that would not have occurred if they had not been involved in their ‘qualifying service’. The assessment process for the Disability Pension is more complex for these veterans as medical evidence is required to demonstrate the link between the medical condition and the service with the relevant defence forces.
The Disability Pension is a form of compensation for physical impairments incurred and thus the amount of the Disability Pension is not subject to any financial means testing.
War Widow Pensions
The surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a consequence of medical condition that was attributable to his ‘qualifying service’ becomes entitled to a War Widow Pension. The War Widow Pension is a form of compensation benefit and is not subject to any financial means testing.
The surviving spouses of DVA Disability Pensioners may apply for the War Widow Pension based on the medical evidence previously provided by the veteran.
Income Support Supplement
A means tested Income Support Supplement (“ISS”) is available to recipients of the War Widow Pension or Disability Pension from DVA. The financial means test for the ISS results in the ISS only being payable to DVA Pensioners who would otherwise be eligible for some Age Pension under the Centrelink Income and Asset Tests.
Help with Health Care Costs
DVA assists veterans and War Widows with their health care costs. DVA pays directly for some medical expenses particularly hospital in patient care. A reasonable level of costs may be reimbursed for some other health care needs.
The DVA White Repatriation Health Card covers the cost of treatments for that veteran’s specified medical conditions only. The DVA Gold Repatriation Health Card covers the cost of treatments for a wide range of medical conditions.
Recipients of the DVA War Widow Pension are also eligible for the DVA Gold Repatriation Health Card.
If you would like further confidential, independent and professional advice about DVA, Centrelink, lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper (03) 9808 0338.
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