Claiming a Disability Pension or Applying for an Increase in
The information in this section relies heavily on Departmental
booklets on the subjects, as issued from time to time
What is a Disability Pension?
A disability pension is paid to compensate veterans for
injuries or diseases caused or aggravated by war service or
certain defence service on behalf of Australia.
Can you claim?
You may be eligible for a disability pension if you suffer
from an injury or disease that is a result of service:
- in the Australian Defence Force during a time of
- in the the Australian Merchant Navy during World War 2;
- as a United Nations Peacekeeper representing Australia
- in the Australian Defence Force whilst undertaking
hazardous service overseas;
- as one of certain civilians who assisted the Australian
Defence Force in wartime; or
- in the Australian Defence Force (after completion of 3
years qualifying period, unless medically discharged)
from 7 December 1972 to 6 April 1994. (If
you enlisted before 22 May 1986 you can also claim for
injuries or diseases resulting from service after 6
You may also be entitled to a disability pension if you served
with a Commonwealth or allied country and you lived in Australia
immediately before you enlisted.
How to Claim
Obtain a claim form
See your local branch of the Vietnam Veterans' Association of
Australia, or other bona fide ex-service organisation to obtain a
form. You may also telephone or write to the Department of
Veterans' Affairs, and ask for a copy of the form Claim for
Disability Pension and Medical Treatment and/or Application for
Increase in Disability Pension to be sent to you.
Get help to complete the form
You should ask a pensions officer from your local branch of
the VVAA or other ex-service organisation to assist you in
completing the forms. Ensure that this officer has been
trained under the Training Information Program (TIP). This
assistance should be free. At the very most there may be an
administrative fee of $50, or you may be asked to join the
organisation that is providing assistance. If
any of the following are familiar to you, you are strongly
encouraged to change your pensions officer immediately!
You are probably NOT
dealing with a someone genuinely representing a
bona fide Ex-Service Organisation if you are:
- guaranteed a
successful outcome; and/or
- required to pay a
fee for service of any amount; and/or
- required to pay an
up-front fee in excess of $50 for
administrative expenses; and/or
- required to sign
over a percentage of your initial
payment (back pay) to the organisation
or individual; and/or
- strongly encouraged
to donate a proportion of your back pay
to the individual or organisation when
the claim succeeds; and/or
- encouraged to
exaggerate the extent of your disability
or make statements that are not true in
relation to your injuries or
- encouraged to make
statements that are incomplete, or omit
facts in relation to your injuries or
- directed or
encouraged to reveal more complete
information at a later stage in the
claims review (appeals) process, for any
What to include on the form if this is an initial claim
You must clearly state on the form:
- the reasons why you think the disability is related to
your service; and
- your doctor's diagnosis of the conditions being claimed
for and the time of onset of the conditions.
You need to get the medical diagnosis sections of Part 17 of
the form completed for the conditions in the claim.
It is important that you lodge the form with the Department as
soon as possible to obtain maximum benefits if your claim is
What to include on the form if you are applying for an
increase in pension
The form is the same form used for claiming new
disabilities. It is important to note that when making an
application for increase, you will need to answer from question
20 onwards on the form.
You must clearly state on the form:
- information about the treatment you have received for
your accepted disabilities; and
- the reasons why you believe that your accepted
disabilities have worsened.
Complete a Lifestyle Rating options form
It will help the Department to process your claim if you also
complete a Lifestyle Rating options form and submit it with your
claim. Your ex-Service organisation representative should
assist you with this. This multi-coloured form provides you with
three options for the assessment of the effect of your
disabilities on your lifestyle. Copies of the form are
available from the Department or your representative.
How Claims are Processed
How long does it take?
Claim processing can take up to three months or longer,
depending on the amount of detail included on the initial claim
form, and the complexity of the case.
Why does it take so long?
The processing time is required to:
- get documents about your service from the Department of
Defence if you have never claimed before;
- conduct further medical examinations if necessary; and
- allow the Department to gather further information from
you about your medical and personal histories if
What further medical information is required?
It may be necessary to obtain further medical information to
help make a decision on your claim. This may involve an
examination by you GP, specialist or a Departmental doctor.
The Department will arrange any such appointments at no cost
to you. If you need to travel or stay away from home
for the examination, the Department will assist you with the cost
of travel and accommodation.
Other information that may be required
The Department may also ask you for more information about:
- your service background;
- employment and financial information;
- details of injuries or accidents; and/or
- other personal details relating to your claim.
The Basis for Decisions
What is the decision based on?
The decision on whether your disabilities are service-related
is based on medical and scientific evidence. This
information is detailed in the Repatriation Medical Authority's
Statements of Principles. These should be shown to you and
explained by your ex-Service representative.
What about 'unusual' conditions?
If your claim is for a condition not included in the
Statements of Principles, it will be determined on the basis of
the best scientific and medical evidence available.
How the Department will inform you
Whether your claim is successful or not, you will be given
written reasons for the decision as well as information that
explains the decision.
Your successful claim may entitle you to be paid a disability
pension, or a higher rate of disability pension if you already
have accepted disabilities.
Appeals Against Decisions
You can request the Department to review the decision
If you want to appeal, you should write to the Department and
request a review of the decision. Your ex-Service
representative can assist you with this and may counsel you about
the likely success of such an appeal. State in your letter
that you want a review by the Veterans' Review Board (VRB). The
VRB has offices in each capital city.
If you decide to appeal the decision it is in your interest to
send a letter as early as possiblye after receiving your decision
as time limits apply. These limits are mentioned in
The Repatriation Commission may intervene and conduct a review
under Section 31 of the Veterans' Entitlement Act. If this
results in a decision that you are happy with, the appeal need go
If you are not happy with the result of the Commission's
review, or the Commission is unable to intervene, then the VRB
will review the first Commission decision about your pension
If you are unsatisfied with the Veterans' Review Board
If you are dissatisfied with the VRB review, you may then
appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). It is
in your interest to lodge the appeal immediately following the
VRB review as time limits apply. The VRB will inform you of the
Information about your rights to appeal
Information on your rights of appeal will be given to you with
the advice on the decision.
Categories of disability pension
There are four categories of disability pension:
- General Rate - paid in increments of 10% up to 100%;
- Extreme Disablement Adjustment - for over 65 years of
- Intermediate Rate; and
- Special Rate - also known as Totally and Permanently
Incapacitated or TPI.
How much per category?
The grounds on which these pensions rates are paid are complex
but generally the greater the incapacity you suffer, the more
pension you receive.
The Intermediate Rate and Special Rate may be payable if your
ability to work is affected by your accepted disabilities alone,
and you incapacity reaches a certain level. In some cases,
the Special Rate is granted temporarily. In these cases, it is
known as the the Totally and Temporarily Incapacitated (TTI)
You can obtain a current Disability Pension Rate Chart by
contacting your nearest office of the Department of Veterans'
Other allowances you can claim
Supplementary benefits are available to certain veterans who
suffer from accepted disablities. These benefits include
allowances for specific purposes, assistance with the education
of children, and assistance in purchasing and maintaining a motor
vehicle. Details of these benefits, who is entitled to them
and how to claim them are available from the Department, or your
What Affects Your Pension
The basis for the amount
How much disability pension you are paid is based on the
degree of incapacity you suffer from your accepted disabilities
and the effects of those disabilities on your lifestyle.
The factors are decided by using the Guide to the Assessment
of Rates of Veterans' Pensions (GARP).
Where you have been in paid employment and your accepted
disabilities alone are preventing you from continuing to work,
you may be eligible to be paid at the Intermediate Rate or
Special Rate of pension.
Payments for the same disabilities
Your disability pension will be affected by any payments you
are claiming or already receiving from other organisations for
the same disabilities.
If you are receiving such payments, you must say so on your
These other payments are usually related to compensation from
the Department of Defence, from another country, worker's
compensation or damages awarded by a court.
Defence Forces Retirement and Death Benefits
Defence Forces Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) payments
will not affect your disability pension.
Payments, Indexation and Taxation
How are pensions paid?
Disability pensions are paid fortnightly to an Australian
bank, building society or credit union account nominated on your
claim form. You can change this account at any time by
notifying the Department in writing.
Are disability pensions indexed?
Disability pension rates are indexed twice yearly in line with
changes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Any increases
from indexation are paid automatically, you do not need to
contact the Department.
Are disability pensions taxed?
Disability pensions are not taxed. You do not need to
declare it as income in your tax return. If you receive a
disability pension only from the Department of Veterans' Affairs,
a group certificate will not be issued.
Your Pension and Other Benefits
Your disability pension is not regarded as income when
assessing your service pension entitlements.
Your disability pension is regarded as income when assessing
your eligibility for rent assistance.
If you are granted a disability pension, or your rate of
disability pension is increased, your rent assistance may be
Age or invalidity pensions
Centrelink treats your disability pension as income when
assessing entitlement to the age or disability support
pension. This also applies to age pensions paid by the
Department of Veterans' Affairs on behalf of Centrelink.
Health Care Benefits
Health care and medical treatment
If you have disabilities accepted as being service-related,
you will be issued with a health care card. The card you are
issued will depend on a number of factors:
- whether you already have a health care card;
- the level of disability pension you are granted; and
- whether you satisfy alternative qualifying conditions
for a health care card.
Types of health cards
The Department issues two types of health care cards:
- White Repatriation Health Card for specific
- Gold Repatriation Health Card for all
Information about health care
Details about your entitlement to health care will be provided
with the letter advising you of the decision on your claim.
Information is available from the Department about the range
of health care and treatment provided by the Department, and how
to qualify for it.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to see any
documents held on your file, or which have been used to make a
decision on your claim. You can arrange to see your file or
other documents by contacting the nearest office of the