Chapter 3 - Which pension do you get?


This chapter is about income support payments and compensation paid by DVA. It aims to help you identify the type of pension you receive and gives you general information about other pensions and support available from DVA.

The pensions are:

    • Service pension (means-tested).

    • Social security age pension (paid by DVA) (means-tested).

    • Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)

    • Income support supplement for war widow(er)s (means-tested).

    • Disability pension (not means-tested).

    Compensation payments under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA)

    • War widow(er)'s pension (not means-tested).

    • Orphan's pension (not means-tested).

For information about allowances and concessions see Chapter 6- Benefits and services. For health care information, see Chapter 7 - Your health.

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Age criteria

Your age and date of birth may affect your eligibility for a number of pensions and associated benefits. Superannuation products are assessed based on your age. Your age will determine if some pensions are taxable payments subject to income tax.

Due to age equalisation, pension age for females increases in six-month increments every two years. By 1 January 2014 the pension age for females will be the same as the pension age for males.

The following tables will be referred to in this and other chapters of You and Your Pension.

Table 1. Pension/qualifying age

A man reaches pension age when he turns 60 years.

Table 1. Pension/qualifying age
 For females born between  Pension/qualifying age is
1 July 1940 and 31 December 1941 55 years and 6 months
1 January 1942 and 30 June 1943 56 years
1 July 1943 and 31 December 1944 56 years and 6 months
1 January 1945 and 30 June 1946 57 years
1 July 1946 and 31 December 1947 57 years and 6 months
1 January 1948 and 30 June 1949 58 years
1 July 1949 and 31 December 1950 58 years and 6 months
1 January 1951 and 30 June 1952 59 years
1 July 1952 and 31 December 1953 59 years and 6 months
on or after 1 January 1954 60 years

Table 2. Pension age for Non-Veterans

A man reaches pension age when he turns 65 years.

Table 2. Pension age for Non-Veterans
 For females born between  Pension age is
1 July 1935 and 31 December 1936 60 years 6 months
1 January 1937 and 30 June 1938 61 years
1 July 1938 and 31 December 1939 61 years 6 months
1 January 1940 and 30 June 1941 62 years
1 July 1941 and 31 December 1942 62 years 6 months
1 January 1943 and 30 June 1944 63 years
1 July 1944 and 31 December 1945 63 years 6 months
1 January 1946 and 30 June 1947 64 years
1 July 1947 and 31 December 1948 64 years 6 months
on or after 1 January 1949 65 years

By January 2014 the age requirements for non-veterans, male and female, will be the same.

Commencing in 2017, pension age used for non-veterans, security age pension and other purposes will gradually increase to 67.

Service pension

Service pensions (or ‘Burnt out Diggers’ pensions as some veterans call them) are means-tested pensions, like the social security age pension and disability support pension. They are paid on the grounds of age or invalidity to eligible veterans. Service pension can also be paid to eligible partners including widows and widowers. Veterans must have qualifying service (which broadly means that they incurred danger from hostile enemy forces) and can receive the age service pension five years earlier than eligible people can receive the social security age pension, acknowledging that the effects of war may be intangible and result in premature ageing.

There are two rates of service pension: the singles rate and the couples rate. The rate paid for each member of a couple is less than the rate paid to a single person because couples can share some household costs.

See Factsheets:

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Age service pension

This is paid at pension age* to eligible veterans. Refer to 'What affects the rate of service pension' later in this chapter for more information on other factors that impact on the payment of the service pension.

*For pension age refer to Table 1 under Age Criteria in this Chapter.

Note: You cannot receive a DVA service pension and a social security pension at the same time

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Invalidity service pension

Invalidity service pension can be granted to eligible veterans below age pension age (refer to Table 2 in this chapter) who are permanently incapacitated for work. The incapacity does not need to be service related.

For invalidity service pension purposes, a person is considered to be automatically accepted as meeting the permanently incapacitated for work test if the person is:

  • permanently blind in both eyes; or
  • in receipt of or eligible for the Special Rate of disability pension (T&PI); or
  • in receipt of or eligible for the Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

If the person does not meet the conditions for automatic acceptance, the following criteria need to be satisfied

  • the person has a disability(ies) that results in a combined impairment rating of 40 points or more using the Guide to the Assessment of Rates of Veterans' Pensions (GARP); and
  • the incapacity from the disability(ies) alone, permanently prevents the person from working for periods adding up to more than 8 hours per week; and
  • the disability(ies) is permanent.

On reaching age pension age, invalidity service pension continues to be paid, however, the payment becomes taxable income.

Refer to 'What affects the rate of service pension' later in this chapter for more information on other factors that impact on the payment of the invalidity service pension.

Note: You cannot receive a DVA service pension and a social security payment at the same time.

See Factsheet:

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Partner service pension

You may be eligible to receive the partner service pension if:

  • you are married to or living in a de facto relationship with a veteran eligible for or receiving a service pension; and
  • you are at least qualifying age*; or
  • you have dependent children; or
  • you are the partner of a service pensioner who also receives the Special Rate (T&PI) disability pension under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 ; or
  • you are the partner of a person receiving or eligible for the Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004; or
  • you are 50 years of age or above and you are the partner of a service pensioner who receives an above general rate (AGR) disability pension.  AGR includes general rate disability pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 that is increased by subsection 27(1) items 1 to 6, or extreme disablement adjustment, intermediate rate, temporary special rate (TTI) disability pensions, or where the veteran has been assessed under the MRCA as having 80 or more impairment points.

Note: If your are married to a veteran but have been separated for more than twelve months, then you will not be eligible for a partner service pension unless you are Centrelink age pension age or special domestic circumstances apply. For further information see Chapter 4 - Living Arrangements.

* For qualifying age refer to Table 1 under Age Criteria in this Chapter.

Refer to 'What affects the rate of service pension' later in this chapter for more information on other factors that may impact on the payment of the service pension.

There are other criteria, which if met could entitle you to a partner service pension. For example, widows and widowers are eligible for partner service pension in certain circumstances. For further information and details of other situations, please refer to the factsheet or contact your nearest DVA office.

Note: You cannot receive a DVA service pension and a social security pension at the same time.

See Factsheet:

What affects the rate of the service pension?

Your living arrangements and your income and assets affect the rate of your service pension. For example, if you live with your partner your service pension is paid at the couples rate not the singles rate. If you have dependent children, you may be eligible for additional allowances paid by Centrelink.

If you receive a disability pension under the VEA, or a permanent impairment payment or special rate disability pension under MRCA as well as a service pension, the disability pension or MRCA payment is not counted as income for service pension purposes although it can affect how much rent assistance you may receive. See Chapter 4 - Living Arrangements and Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets.

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Social security age pension (paid by DVA)

Payment of age pension to Australian veterans receiving disability pension through DVA, who do not qualify for service pension was introduced to provide a choice to enable them to receive all of their payments from DVA.

You may be eligible to receive a social security age pension (paid by DVA), if you are an Australian veteran and you:

  • receive a DVA disability pension or have an accepted disability and only receive veterans supplement and
  • are age pension age* and
  • receive a social security age pension, or are eligible to receive it; and
  • do not receive a service pension from DVA or any income support pension other than an age pension from Centrelink.

A partner of an Australian veteran who is receiving or eligible to receive the social security age pension from Centrelink may choose to receive the social security age pension through DVA instead.

The rules for calculating the social security age pension (paid by DVA) for the veteran and partner are contained in social security law. It is subject to an income and assets test and the amount is paid by DVA.

*For age pension age refer to Table 2 under Age Criteria in this Chapter.

Note: You cannot receive a social security pension and a DVA service pension at the same time.

See Factsheet:

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Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)

DFISA may be paid to people whose social security income support payment is reduced (including to nil), because adjusted disability pension is counted as income in their assessment.

Adjusted disability pension means:

  • General Rate (payable in multiples of 10% up to 100%), Extreme Disablement Adjustment, Intermediate Rate and Special Rate disability pensions paid under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA);
  • increased rates of disability pension for amputation and blindness, paid under section 27 of the VEA;
  • temporary incapacity allowance paid under section 107 of the VEA; and
  • permanent impairment payments and special rate disability pension paid under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

DFISA is the difference between the rate of your income support payment and what the payment would be if adjusted disability pension was exempt, but was included in the calculation of any rent assistance entitlements.

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Nil rate social security payment and DFISA

You are a social security recipient even if your rate of social security payment is nil but DFISA is payable. This means that you are entitled to all the benefits you would have received had you been receiving the social security payment at a rate greater than nil. For example, you will receive the same concession card that you would be entitled to if you were receiving more than nil rate of payment. If you claimed your social security payment from Centrelink, the additional benefits will be provided by Centrelink. If you claimed your age pension from DVA, the additional benefits will be made available by DVA. See Chapter 6 - Benefits and Services.

You will also be subject to the obligations applicable to social security recipients. If you have claimed your payment from Centrelink, you will have been advised of your obligations by Centrelink. If you claimed your age pension from DVA, your obligations are contained in the letter notifying you of the grant of pension and further explained in Chapter 2 - Obligations.

See Factsheet:

Income support supplement for war widows and widowers

Income support supplement (ISS) is payable to eligible Australian war widows and widowers. This includes widows and widowers eligible for a death benefit under the MRCA as wholly dependent partners. The income support supplement is a means-tested payment paid in addition to the war widow's pension or MRCA benefits.

There is no age restriction on eligibility for income support supplement.

Income Support Supplement paid on invalidity grounds

Invalidity income support supplement when paid to a person who is under age pension age* is non-taxable income.

To receive income support supplement on the grounds of invalidity, you must be permanently incapacitated for work.

The criteria for grant of an income support supplement on invalidity grounds are as follows:

  • you are permanently blind in both eyes; or
  • you have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability; and
    • the disability(ies), are assessed at 20 points or more under the Impairment Tables in Schedule 1B of the Social Security Act 1991; and
    • you are unable to work for at least 30 hours a week; and
    • the disability(ies) alone prevents you working for the next two years.

 *For age pension age refer to Table 2 under Age Criteria in this Chapter.

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What affects the rate of the supplement?

Your living arrangements and your income and assets affect the rate of your supplement. The war widow's pension, MRCA death benefit and any disability pension paid by other governments are counted as income in the assessment of the income support supplement.

If the war widow's pension is limited because of a compensation payment, the supplement may be paid at a higher maximum (ceiling) rate than for other income support supplement recipients. (See Chapter 4 - Living arrangements and Chapter 5 - Your income and assets.)

Disability pension under the VEA, or a permanent impairment payment or special rate disability pension under the MRCA, payable to you or your partner is not counted as income but can affect how much rent assistance you may receive. (See Chapter 4 - Living arrangements and Chapter 5 - Your income and assets.)

Note: You cannot receive a DVA income support supplement and a service pension or a social security pension or benefit from Centrelink at the same time. There are also a number of social security pensions and benefits that are not payable to a person who is receiving a war widow's pension. Continuation of such payments after grant of war widow's pension may result in a recoverable overpayment. For more information please contact your nearest DVA office.

See Factsheet:

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What if you are blind?

This guide You and Your Pension is available on CD for people who have difficulty reading standard print. Please contact your nearest DVA office for a CD if you need one.

If you meet the criteria to be regarded as blind for purposes of income support pension, you will receive the maximum rate of that pension regardless of your income and assets. However, your income and assets may affect how much rent assistance you receive. If you are married or living in a de facto relationship, you will receive the maximum couples rate of the pension but your partner's pension, if they are not regarded as blind for pension purposes, will be assessed under the income and assets tests.

If at anytime you are regarded as blind and are receiving an income support pension, you should notify DVA. This is important as it helps to ensure that you continue to receive the correct rate of income support. For example, if you are currently receiving less than maximum rate of pension, then this can be adjusted to reflect your changed circumstances.

If you are a resident in an aged care home and accepted as blind for pension purposes, you may be required to pay an income tested aged care fee. This means that your income and assets details will need to be provided to DVA to ensure your aged care fees are correctly assessed. See Chapter 4 - Living Arrangements.

For more information contact your nearest DVA office.

Note: An income support pension includes age, invalidity or partner service pension, social security age pension (paid by DVA) and income support supplement. The special income and assets test rules apply to any income support pensioner who is regarded as blind for income support purposes.

See Factsheet:

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Disability Pension

The disability pension is paid to compensate veterans for injuries or diseases caused or aggravated by war or defence service on behalf of Australia before 1 July 2004. These injuries or diseases are known as ‘accepted disabilities’.

How disability pension is worked out

Once an injury or disease has been accepted, the rate at which the disability pension is paid is based on:

  • the degree of impairment you suffer from your accepted disability; and
  • the effect of the accepted disability on your lifestyle including any restriction on your capacity for waged income.

Even if your incapacity from your accepted disability is assessed as nil you will still be entitled to health care services for your accepted disability.

Different rates of disability pension

There are four categories of disability pension:

  • General Rate - paid according to the incapacity and lifestyle effects of an accepted disability in 10% multiples up to the 100% rate.

  • Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) - paid in respect of extreme incapacity to veterans who are over 65.

  • Intermediate Rate - paid to veterans whose incapacity is so great that it, alone, prevents them from undertaking employment for 20 hours or more per week and has caused loss of earnings.

  • Special Rate (T&PI) - paid to veterans who are blind in both eyes or whose incapacity, alone, prevents them from undertaking remunerative employment for more than 8 hours per week and has caused them loss of earnings. The Special Rate can be paid for a set time to someone who is totally temporarily incapacitated (TTI) by accepted disabilities, but is subject to periodical review.

Depending on your accepted disability you may also be eligible for certain allowances. Some examples are attendant allowance, recreation transport allowance, decoration allowance, loss of earnings allowance, temporary incapacity allowance, clothing allowance and allowances under the Vehicle Assistance Scheme.

Note: You cannot receive a DVA attendant allowance whilst your carer receives a social security carer payment.

Disability pension and compensation offsetting

Disability pension paid under the VEA may be reduced by the payment of compensation from other sources, if it is paid for the same incapacity. This is referred to as compensation offsetting.

Compensation offsetting may also be applied where compensation payments are paid under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), administered by the Department.

Compensation offsetting is complex and you are strongly advised to contact DVA to find out more about the effects specific to your circumstances.

See Factsheets:

If you need advice or more information about the disability pension and/or allowances, or if you want to claim a pension or an increase in your existing rate of pension, contact your nearest DVA office.

Note: If you are granted or receive an increase in disability pension and are in receipt of any payment from Centrelink you should advise Centrelink of the change in your income.

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Military Compensation 

If you served in the ADF (either full-time or part-time) between 3 January 1949 and 30 June 2004, there may be entitlement to claim benefits under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) for injuries, illnesses or death resulting from this service.

See Factsheet:

If your ADF service (either full-time or part-time) covers any period on or after 1 July 2004, you may be entitled to claim benefits under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) for injuries and illnesses resulting from this service.

For ADF service after 1 July 2004, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) covers injury, disease or death due to ADF service. This replaces the military compensation arrangements previously applied under the VEA, the SRCA and any additional benefits under the Defence Act 1903. However, existing entitlements under these Acts relating to service before 1 July 2004 are not affected.

For more information about Military Compensation contact your nearest DVA office. By phoning 133 254, you can contact staff in the Rehabilitation & Compensation Group from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call.

See Factsheet:

Further information about MRCA can also be obtained from the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Information Booklet (PDF 455KB) (RTF 504KB) 

Arrangements are in place to prevent a person being compensated under multiple Acts for the same injury, illness or death. As these arrangements are very complex, it is important that you contact your nearest DVA office and speak to an officer who is trained in handling dual eligibility enquiries.

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War widow's pension and orphan's pension

These pensions are paid to compensate widows, widowers and dependent children of veterans whose death has been accepted as related to war or defence service rendered before 1 July 2004. These pensions are also payable if the veteran was an Australian ex-prisoner of war, or was receiving:

  • a Special Rate (T&PI) disability pension, or 
  • the Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA), or
  • a disability pension at the Intermediate Rate, or
  • a disability pension at the Temporary Special Rate, or 
  • a disability pension at an increased rate for a condition specified in any of items 1 to 8 of subsection 27(1) of the VEA (these items relate to double amputees who may also be blind in one eye).

War widow's pension may be affected by compensation in respect of the veteran's death which is paid from another source. If you have received or are able to claim compensation or damages you should notify your nearest DVA office. For example, if you are receiving any payments from the Dust Diseases Board as a result of the veteran's death you must notify DVA as your war widow's pension will need to be adjusted.

See Factsheet:

If you need advice or more information about pensions for war widows and orphans, contact your nearest DVA office. Your local War Widows Guild or Legacy office may also be able to help you.

Note: If you are granted a war widow’s pension you are no longer eligible to receive an income support payment from Centrelink, however you may be eligible for Income Support Supplement from DVA (refer to the information earlier in this chapter). You should advise Centrelink that you have been granted a war widow’s pension.

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