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Chapter 6 - benefits and services

  • Allowances and supplements you may be entitled to
    • Rent Assistance
    • Remote Area allowance
    • Pension Supplement
    • Veterans Supplement
    • Energy Supplement
    • Veterans' Pharmaceutical Reimbursement Scheme
    • Prisoner of War Recognition Supplement
  • Concession cards
    • Pensioner Concession Card
    • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
  • Financial assistance
    • Lump Sum Advance
    • Financial Hardship
    • Pension Loans Scheme
    • Education Entry Payment
    • Pension Bonus Scheme
    • Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA) bonus
  • Defence Service Homes (DSH) Scheme
    • Loans
    • Home insurance
  • Other Services
    • Veterans Home Care
    • Community nursing
    • Veterans' Access Network (VAN.
    • Outreach program and country visits
    • Financial information
    • National Information Centre on Retirement Income
    • Urgent repairs to your home
    • DVA services online - MyAccount

This chapter is about the allowances, supplements and concessions you may be entitled to, the forms of financial assistance available to you (apart from income support pensions), and some of the support services provided by DVA and other agencies.

Allowances and supplements you may be entitled to

This section provides information about the allowances and supplements you may be entitled to receive.

Rent Assistance

If you pay rent in Australia to occupy premises which is your principal home and the rent is more than the current rent threshold, you may be eligible for rent assistance. For the current rent threshold please refer to the factsheet. You cannot receive rent assistance if you pay rent to a State or Territory housing authority.

For each dollar of rent paid over the current rent threshold, 75 cents of rent assistance is payable up to a maximum amount. However, the final amount of rent assistance can be affected by the following:

  • For a service pensioner, the amount of rent assistance payable may be reduced by a portion of any disability pension or permanent impairment payment made to the person or their partner.

Note: For Social Security age pensioners, the Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA) may be reduced due to the adjusted disability pension rent test. See Chapter 3 Which pension do you get?

 In most cases if you have dependent children, any rent assistance you may be eligible for will be paid by the Family Assistance Office (Centrelink) as part of your Family Tax Benefit.

If you are travelling overseas:

  • and live overseas permanently, you are not eligible for rent assistance from the day after you leave Australia; or
  • temporarily, and continue to pay rent, you are eligible for rent assistance for up to 26 weeks after your departure from Australia.

See Factsheet:

Remote Area Allowance

If you are living in a remote area of Australia and you receive service pension, social security age pension (paid by DVA) or income support supplement, you may be eligible for this allowance (See Chapter 4 Living Arrangements)

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Pension Supplement

The pension supplement is included with a fortnightly payment of income support pensions such as service pension and Social Security age pension (paid by DVA). You may also defer a portion of the fortnightly amount and have it paid to you quarterly.

 If you are travelling overseas:

  • and live overseas permanently, the pension supplement will be paid at a reduced rate; or
  • temporarily, you are only eligible for the tax free component of this allowance for up to 6 weeks after your departure from Australia.

See Factsheet:

Obligations in relation to Pension Supplement

You need to tell us if:

  • you leave Australia permanently;
  • you intend to leave Australia for more than 6 weeks.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes. Social security age pensioners (paid by DVA) have the same obligations except that if you receive remote area allowance you need to tell us within 14 days not 28 days.

Veterans Supplement

The veterans supplement for income support purposes is a fortnightly payment to pensioners who do not receive an income support pension. Veterans supplement is not means tested and is paid automatically to eligible pensioners. Eligible pensioners include:

  • disability pensioners not receiving any DVA or Social Security income support payments
  • war widows or widowers not in receipt of income support supplement and who are under qualifying age.

For qualifying age refer to Chapter 3.

If you are travelling overseas:

  • and live overseas permanently, you are not eligible for veterans supplement from the day after you leave Australia; or
  • temporarily, you are only eligible for this allowance for up to 26 weeks after your departure from Australia.

Obligations in relation to Veterans Supplement

You need to tell us if:

  • you leave Australia permanently;
  • you leave Australia for more than 13 weeks.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes.

Energy Supplement

The Energy Supplement is an ongoing payment for recipient of income support payments and certain compensation payments. Eligible pensioners include those receiving:

  • service pension;
  • Social Security age pension paid by DVA;
  • disability pension;
  • war widow(er) pension;
  • MRCA permanent impairment payment;
  • MRCA Special Rate Disability Pension;
  • MRCA wholly dependent partner payment;
  • VCES fortnightly education allowance;
  • MRCAETS fortnightly education allowance; and

The Energy Supplement is an ongoing fortnightly or quarterly payments to eligible recipients.

The Energy Supplement is tax-free and is exempt income for means testing.

Obligations in relation to the Energy Supplement

You need to tell us if:

  • you leave Australia permanently;
  • you intend to leave Australia for more than 6 weeks.

You need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of the changes. Social security age pensioners (paid by DVA) have the same obligations except that if you receive remote area allowance you need to tell us within 14 days not 28 days.

See Factsheets:

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Veterans’ Pharmaceutical Reimbursement Scheme

The Veterans’ Pharmaceutical Reimbursement Scheme reimburses eligible veterans’ for out of pocket costs associated with the concessional pharmaceutical co-payment.

Eligible veterans include those under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 who have a Gold Card or White Card, who are entitled to receive a DVA disability pension and who have qualifying service. Also eligible are those who have equivalent status under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 and Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

See Factsheet:

Prisoner of War Recognition Supplement

The Prisoner of War Recognition (POWR) Supplement is a fortnightly payment made to veteran and civilian former prisoners of war for the severe hardships and deprivations they experienced. Those eligible include veterans or civilians who were held captive during the Second World War by military forces of a European enemy state or Japan or veteran held prisoner by North Korea during the Korean War. POWR is paid in addition to existing DVA and other Commonwealth benefits. POWR is tax-free, exempt income for means testing and indexed annually in line with the Consumer Price Index. You can still receive the POWR Supplement if you travel or reside overseas.

For eligibility enquiries, contact DVA on 133 254 (metro callers), or 1800 555 254 (non-metro callers).

See Factsheets:

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Concession Cards

This section contains information about:

  • the Pensioner Concession Card; and
  • the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

Pensioner Concession Card

The Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) is issued to service pensioners, social security age pensioners (paid by DVA) and war widows and widowers who receive the income support supplement. The PCC entitles holders to a range of concessions including:

  • prescription pharmaceuticals at the concession rate;
  • free hearing aids (a maintenance and service fee applies);
  • reduced transport fares;
  • discount rail travel, including limited free travel in some states;
  • council and water board rebates (subject to local authorities’ regulations);
  • discounted car registration and driving licences (subject to local authorities’ regulations); and
  • the Medicare Safety Net threshold.

A number of other concessions are available from state and local governments and these vary from state to state.

This card is issued annually, generally towards the end of the year. You should use your new card as soon as you receive it. If you transfer from a Centrelink payment to a DVA income support payment or if your PCC number changes you should notify the agency or business providing the concession to ensure you continue to receive it.

Certain states issue rail travel vouchers if you have a PCC. These states include WA, SA and Vic. Although vouchers are not issued in NSW, QLD, Tas and the ACT, travel concessions are available on the production of your card. NT does not offer any travel concessions.

If your card is lost, stolen or damaged, contact your nearest DVA office and a replacement card will be issued. It takes about a week to replace a card.

Note: Concessions available to pensioners are not determined by DVA.  Please contact your local authority for further details.

See Factsheets:

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Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is issued by DVA to eligible veterans, partners, war widows and widowers who are of pension age or qualifying age and who fail to qualify for an income support pension from DVA or a pension or benefit from Centrelink due to the excess income and/or assets. There is a separate income test for the CSHC. The CSHC entitles the holder to:

  • pharmaceuticals at a concessional rate through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme;
  • concessions from state and local government authorities (these may vary from state to state); and
  • the Medicare Safety net threshold.

For more information contact your nearest DVA office.

See Factsheets:

Obligations in relation to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

You need to tell us if:

  • you change your address;
  • you go overseas permanently or intend to travel overseas for more than 6 weeks;
  • your income exceeds the income limit included in our latest advice to you;
  • you or your partner commence a new superannuation account-based pension;
  • there is a change in your family circumstances, eg a change in your relationship status or a change in the number of your dependents; or
  • you receive a pension, benefit or concession card from Centrelink

You need to tell us within 14 days of the event.

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Financial Assistance

You may be entitled to receive short-term financial assistance such as a lump sum advance or ongoing assistance with your income as set out in the following.

Lump Sum Advance

If you receive a pension and you require additional funds for any purpose, you may be able to have some of your pension paid in advance as a lump sum advance. The maximum advance payable is 3 weeks of the maximum rate of service pension. The amount of your pension that you can be paid in advance depends on:

  • the maximum and minimum advance amounts;
  • the rate of fortnightly pension you receive;
  • any previous advances you have received in the last 13 fortnights; and
  • any previous advances that you have not yet repaid.

If you wish to know how much pension you can currently be paid in advance you should contact your local DVA office.

Note: The advance must be repaid over 13 fortnights. You can have multiple advances in a 13 fortnight period so long as the combined total of the advances does not exceed the maximum advance amount. The advance will not be paid if you currently have a debt with DVA or Centrelink.

See Factsheet:

Financial Hardship

If you have a low income, are assessed under the assets test and have assets that you cannot sell and are in, or could be in, severe financial hardship, the Financial Hardship rules may apply to you. To be eligible there are a number of criteria that you will need to meet. If you wish to be considered under the Financial Hardship rules, your request must be in writing.

For more information contact your nearest DVA office.

See Factsheet:

Pension Loans Scheme

The pension loans scheme can provide a fortnightly pension top-up if your income support pension is reduced including to nil due to your income or assets. The loan is paid as a series of fortnightly payments not exceeding the maximum rate of pension and it cannot be taken as a lump sum. To be eligible for a pension loan you must have sufficient real estate in Australia that can be used as security for the loan. The amount of the loan, including any associated costs (such as interest) is fully recoverable against your property when you decide to leave the scheme, or from your estate following death.

For more information on the requirements you will need to meet and how to apply contact your nearest DVA office.

See Factsheet:

Education Entry Payment

This payment is designed to provide assistance with the costs of enrolling in a course of study to develop skills, obtain a qualification or improve employment prospects for people under pension age. One payment is made in each calendar year.

To find out if you are eligible for this payment and for information on the requirements that you will need to meet please contact your nearest DVA office.

See Factsheet:

Pension Bonus Scheme

The Pension Bonus Scheme (PBS) was designed to encourage people to remain in the workforce longer by offering a once-off, tax free lump sum bonus to those who wish to keep working beyond qualifying age or age pension age, instead of retiring and claiming an income support pension. To be eligible, you need to defer claiming an income support pension for at least 1 year whilst working.

Note: For qualifying and age pension ages, you should refer to Chapter 3 - Which pension do you get?

The PBS closed to new registrations from 1 July 2014. If you registered before 1 July 2014, you can still claim a pension bonus at the same time you claim your income support pension.

The Work Bonus was introduced in September 2009 to replace the PBS. If you are currently registered in the PBS you should check whether the Work Bonus or the PBS is more beneficial to your situation.

Note: Refer to Work Bonus in the section on Wages and Earnings in Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets.

See Factsheet:

Defence Service Homes (DSH) Scheme

Loans

You may qualify for a Defence Service Homes (DSH) loan if:

  • you have served with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for specified periods of full time service, or you were allotted for duty in certain operational areas;
  • you are a widow or widower of someone who had service covered by the DSH Scheme; or
  • you were an Australian who served with part of the British Commonwealth Forces, Welfare Organisations, or Merchant Marine in certain circumstances. 

For more information on the scheme, visit the DHS website or Freecall 1800 722 000.

You may qualify for the Defence Home Owners Scheme (DHOAS), if:

  • you first joined the full-time ADF on or after 15 May 1985;
  • you first joined the full-time ADF before 15 May 1985 and you revoked your DSH eligibility in 1991; or
  • you first joined as an Active Reserve or Emergency Force member and have served the required basic service period.

You may qualify for the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme (DHOAS) loan, if:

  • you were a serving member on or after 1 July 2008; and
  • you have completed a qualifying period of either permanent or reserve service; or
  • you are the surviving partner of an eligible member.

For more information on how much you can borrow, other key features of the scheme and how to apply, contact DSH; Defence Service Homes National Processing Centre on Freecall 1800 722 000 or write to Defence Service Homes, GPO Box 1987R, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001.

DHOS & DHOAS: Freecall 1300 434 627 or write to Defence Homes, GPO Box 9998, Brisbane, Queensland, 4001.

See Factsheet:

Home insurance

If you qualify for a subsidised Home Loan, a Home Support Loan (whether or not you have used the loan or even if you paid it out) or if you have an entitlement under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, then you will also be entitled to the benefits of the Home Building insurance provided by the Defence Service Homes Insurance. Other personal insurance including Contents, Motor Vehicle, Boat and travel insurance are also available.

Benefits include competitively priced premiums, broad insurance cover, no general excess on claims and contents insurance discounts for retirees and over 50s, and/or where security systems exist. Insurance is available for holiday and investment/rental homes, as well as your own home.

For more information about home and contents insurance, please telephone your local Defence Service Homes Insurance office on 1300 552 662 for the cost of a local call.

See Factsheet:

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Other Services

There are a range of other services available to pensioners.

Veterans' Home Care

If you have a Gold or White Card you can be assessed for Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) services. If you are a Commonwealth or allied veteran and you have a White card you can be assessed for respite care through VHC where it relates to your accepted disability.

The VHC program provides a range of home care services, such as domestic assistance, personal care, safety related home and garden maintenance and respite care, for eligible veterans and war widows. A VHC assessment agency will assess the need for services and arrange for the services to be provided. A small co-payment may be required. The VHC assessment agency may also provide referrals to other government programs and community agencies that are best placed to meet specific needs.

For more information contact your nearest DVA office. For an assessment, phone 1300 550 450 to be connected to your local VHC assessment agency.

See Factsheet:

Community Nursing

Community nursing services are available to eligible veterans and war widows to meet an assessed clinical and/or personal care need upon referral from an authorised referral source, such as:

  • Local Medical Officer (DVA registered general practitioner);
  • other general practitioner who is providing treatment under DVA arrangements;
  • treating doctor in hospital;
  • hospital discharge planner; or
  • Veterans' Home Care assessment agency.

Services are provided in the home by DVA contracted community nursing organisations. Community nursing helps restore or maintain the optimal level of health and independence of the individual, and helps to avoid premature and/or inappropriate admittance to hospital or residential care.

For more information contact your nearest DVA office.

See Factsheet

Veterans’ Access Network (VAN)

VAN offices provide personalised information and assistance to the veteran community. There is a VAN office in each State and Territory capital city as well as a number of regional centres in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

VAN staff can:

  • inform you about pension issues and help you complete forms;
  • inform you about a range of health and lifestyle issues;
  • help you to get the best from services and benefits offered either by DVA or by other government or community organisations; and
  • help you find local health and community programs and use them to your advantage. For example, to locate health care providers anywhere anytime, view the National Health Services Directory (NHSD).

For more information about the location and phone numbers of VAN offices, contact your nearest DVA office.

Information services are provided on behalf of DVA through contracted agents including Centrelink, the Queensland Government Agents Program (QGAP), Service Tasmania, Community Resource Centres in Western Australia and a number of other local government services.

Outreach program and country visits

DVA conducts visits to metropolitan and country areas in NSW/ACT, Queensland, and Western Australia. The visits provide an opportunity for the ex-service community to meet with Departmental representatives to discuss information on the benefits provided by the Department. The visits are usually held in the local R&SL sub-branch or community centre and are well publicised through the media, ex-service organisations or by direct invitation.

If you need assistance or information and are not able to come to us, you can talk with your nearest DVA office by phoning 133 254 (metro) or 1800 555 254 (regional) for more information.

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Financial information

Income Support Service Delivery staff can provide information on how your particular financial circumstances, or future financial decisions might affect your income support pension. You can contact Income Support staff by telephoning 1300 550 452 or 1800 550 452 (regional Australia) or contact your nearest DVA office.

Centrelink runs a Financial Information Service (FIS), which is free to DVA pensioners. Phone 132300 to make an appointment. The FIS also offers financial seminars which you can book for by:

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DVA services online - MyAccount

MyAccount is an internet based gateway to a growing range of DVA services, giving you choice, control and convenience.  Whenever your want, wherever you are, you can do business with DVA. MyAccount is available at myaccount.dva.gov.au

Within MyAccount, you can:

  • view and update your personal details
  • view your card information and request a replacement
  • book transport and claim reimbursement for transport costs (conditions apply);
  • view your recent payments
  • request an official DVA letter
  • submit primary claim
  • notify DVA of overseas travel
  • update your income and assets

More services are available in MyAccount and will continue to be added to.

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