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Program 1.1: Veterans' Income Support and Allowances

Description

To deliver means-tested income support pensions and other allowances to eligible veterans and dependants under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 and related legislation. As an agent of the Department of Social Services, pay other forms of income support to eligible veterans, members and former members of the Defence Force and Peacekeeping Force. Income support payments provide a regular source of income for eligible veterans, partners, widow/ers, and other eligible people with limited means.

Delivery

Deliver means tested income support pensions and other allowances to veterans under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 and related legislation, by:

  • processing new claims for income support pensions to eligible veterans and dependants
  • processing claims for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and the DVA Health Card—For Pharmaceutical Only (Orange Card)
  • processing claims to determine qualifying service
  • processing aged care means test assessments
  • processing departmental and pensioner initiated reviews.

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New claims processed

Claims intake increased from 10,068 in 2015–16 to 10,998 in 2016–17 (up by 9.2 percent). A total of 10,926 claims were processed in 2016–17 compared to 10,137 in 2015–16 (an increase of 7.8 percent). The number of cases on hand rose from 701 at 30 June 2016 to 773 at 30 June 2017 (up by 10.2 percent).

In recent years new claim intakes have increased due to the number of younger veterans with warlike service returning from overseas deployments. This, combined with enhanced online claims lodgement, saw an increase particularly in the number of claims from veterans seeking clarification of their qualifying service status.

However, pension claim intakes are down by 15.1 percent from 2,975 in 2015–16 to 2,524 in 2016–17. This decline in pension claims corresponds with the acknowledged decrease in the veteran population reaching retirement age who have rendered qualifying service.

Figure 3 shows outcomes for new claims intake, disposals and cases outstanding for the past three years.


Figure 3—New claims activity 2014–15 to 2016–17

This image shows new claims activity 2014–15 to 2016–17, shown as number of claims: intakes, disposals and outstanding at 30 June

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Time to process new claims

The mean time frame for processing new claims was 28 days in 2016–17. This performance is well within the 32-day target.

Processing continues to be supported by the electronic link between DVA and Defence allowing access to information for veterans with post-1997 ADF service in real time. This has greatly reduced the time taken to process qualifying service claims lodged by this veteran group and has positively affected the overall average time taken to process claims.

Claim disposals have continued to approximately match claim intakes; however, apart from the post-1997 ADF qualifying service claims, the time taken to investigate claims is continuing to increase. This is due to a number of factors. Most relate to ongoing delays in obtaining necessary documentation and information from third parties. The increasing complexity of clients' personal and financial circumstances, including the structure and/or range of their income and assets, requires thorough investigation to ensure that applicants receive their correct entitlements. This need for thorough investigation is reflected in the average age of outstanding cases, which has increased from 23 days at 30 June 2016 to 28 days at 30 June 2017.

A new measure introduced this financial year is the median time taken to process claims (the number of days within which 50 percent of cases were processed). The target has been set at 30 days, based on a review of processing results over the past 20 years. The median time taken to process new claims in 2016–17 was nine days against a target of 30 days.

Figure 4 shows the mean processing times for new claims over the past three years.


Figure 4—Processing times for new claims 2014–15 to 2016–17

This image shows Processing times for new claims 2014–15 to 2016–17

Pensioner initiated reviews processed

A total of 74,874 pensioner initiated reviews (PIRs) were processed in 2016–17 compared to 77,363 in 2015–16 (a decrease of 3.2 percent). Intakes have decreased by 0.9 percent from 76,084 in 2015–16 to 75,432 in 2016–17. This decrease is attributable to the declining pensioner population. The amount of work on hand at 30 June 2017 was 20.6 percent greater than at 30 June 2016 (3,267 cases compared to 2,709 cases).

Figure 5 shows outcomes for PIR intake, disposals and cases outstanding for the past three years.


Figure 5—Pensioner initiated review activity 2014–15 to 2016–17

This image shows pensioner initiated review activity 2014–15 to 2016–17, shown as number of cases: intakes, disposals and outstanding at 30 June

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Outcomes of pensioner initiated reviews

In the 2016–17, the processing of PIRs resulted in a pension increase for 28,109 clients (average fortnightly increase of $51.57 per client) and a pension decrease for 22,655 clients (average fortnightly decrease of $49.69 per client). A further 38,244 clients notified the Department of changes to their personal and financial circumstances which required updates to their records through the PIR process.

The processing of a PIR can impact on the pension payments of each member of a pensioner household. The client numbers are therefore always higher than the case numbers as a significant number of income support households contain two persons (i.e. the veteran and their partner).

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Time taken to process pensioner initiated reviews

The mean time frame for processing PIRs in 2016–17 was 21 days (compared to 22 days in 2015–16 and 21 days 2014–15). The focus on finalising older outstanding cases has impacted on the timeliness figure. The average age of outstanding cases was 43 days at 30 June 2017 (compared to 36 days at 30 June 2016).

As with the processing of new claims, the increasing complexity of clients' personal circumstances and sophistication of their financial affairs, as well as the fluctuating economic climate, contributed to a need for a greater level of investigation within PIRs. Additional time taken during the investigation process helps to ensure that clients continue to receive their correct entitlements.

Figure 6 shows the mean times to process PIRs over the past three years.


Figure 6—Processing times for pensioner initiated reviews 2014–15 to 2016–17

This image shows processing time for pensioner initiated reviews 2014–15 to 2016–17, shown as number of calendar days: mean results and mean target

A new measure introduced this financial year is the median time taken to process PIRs (the number of days within which 50 percent of cases were processed). The median time taken to process PIRs in 2016–17 was seven days against a target of 10 days.

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Price

The cost per income support beneficiary in 2016–17 was $313, compared to $267 in 2015–16.

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Quality

The correctness rate of 97.11 percent, for income support processing in 2016–17 were well within the target.

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