This Factsheet provides a brief explanation of the Guide to the Assessment of Rates of Veterans’ Pensions (GARP) and how it is used to assess disability pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).
What is GARP?
GARP is the legislative instrument used by decision-makers to determine the amount of disability pension to pay a veteran in respect of incapacity from war-caused or defence-caused injuries and diseases. Its provisions are binding on the Repatriation Commission, the Veterans’ Review Board and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Why do we have GARP?
GARP is designed to provide accurate and equitable assessment of incapacity from war-caused or defence-caused injuries and diseases, in order to ensure that veterans receive their rightful entitlement under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986.
The current edition of GARP 2016 was developed in consultation with representatives of the ex-service organisations.
How does GARP work?
GARP looks at the medical impairment you suffer as a result of your war-caused or defence-caused disabilities, and the effect they have on your lifestyle.
How is medical impairment assessed?
Medical impairment is assessed by looking at any physical loss or disturbance to your body systems, and any loss of function that you might suffer as a result.
GARP contains a series of tables relating to the various body systems. There are also tables used to assess specific types of impairment, such as malignant conditions, intermittent impairment, and disfigurement and social impairment.
The tables contain descriptions of the various levels of impairment that a person might suffer as a result of war-caused or defence-caused incapacity, and a rating is allocated to each level.
When a rating is selected from each appropriate table, the ratings are combined (not added arithmetically) to arrive at an impairment rating for all war-caused or defence-caused conditions.
Where does the information come from to assess medical impairment?
When you lodge your claim for disability pension or your application for an increase in your disability pension, the Claims Assessor might ask you to attend your local general practitioner for a medical examination. The doctor will examine you and may ask you questions about how your war-caused or defence-caused injuries and diseases affect you. The information gathered by the doctor at this examination will be sent to DVA and placed on your file.
The Claims Assessor might also ask you to attend for other tests, such as a hearing test or a respiratory function test, or specialist examinations, depending on your claimed war-caused or defence-caused injuries and diseases. The results of these tests and examinations will also be sent to DVA and placed on your file.
The decision-maker will look at this and any other current information on your file relating to your war-caused or defence-caused injuries and diseases to determine the level of medical impairment from which you suffer.
How is the lifestyle effect assessed?
GARP looks at four components of a veteran’s life that may be affected by war-caused or defence-caused incapacity:
- personal relationships;
- recreational and community activities; and
- employment and domestic activities.
A table under each component sets out descriptions of the levels of effect that war-caused or defence-caused incapacity might have on a veteran’s lifestyle and a rating is allocated to each level.
The ratings selected from each table are added together, and the total is divided by four to arrive at the overall lifestyle rating.
Where does the information come from to assess the lifestyle effect?
When you lodge a claim for disability pension, or apply for an increase in disability pension, the claims assessor will ask you to complete a Lifestyle Rating form.
This form will give you three options:
- you can choose to self-assess your lifestyle effect. You will be asked to complete a Lifestyle Rating form on which you answer questions about the effects of your war-caused or defence-caused incapacity on your lifestyle, and you select what you believe to be the appropriate rating for your lifestyle effect;
- you can complete a Lifestyle Questionnaire that asks questions about the effects of your war-caused or defence-caused incapacity on your lifestyle; or
- you can choose not to self-assess or complete a Lifestyle Questionnaire. If you choose this option the decision maker will allocate an average lifestyle rating based on the level of medical impairment.
Whichever option you choose the decision maker will look at the information you have provided as well as reports of your current medical condition to determine your lifestyle rating.
How does the decision maker determine what rate of disability pension to pay me?
When the medical impairment rating and the lifestyle rating have been determined, they are compared with a chart in GARP to convert them to a degree of incapacity.
If a disability pension is to be paid at the General Rate, the degree of incapacity will determine the amount of disability pension to be paid.
If the degree of incapacity is 70 per cent or more, the decision maker will then consider whether or not you may be entitled to be paid disability pension at the Special Rate or Intermediate Rate. The decision maker will look at how your war-caused or defence-caused incapacity have affected your past employment, any losses you may have suffered as a result and how this affects your ability to work in paid employment. For further information, see DVA Factsheet DP29.
Is GARP only used to determine what percentage of General Rate pension is to be paid?
No. If you are aged 65 years or over and you are extremely disabled as a result of your war-caused or defence-caused injuries and diseases, you may be entitled to the Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA).
In order to qualify for the EDA you must have an impairment rating of at least 70 points and a lifestyle rating of at least 6 points. GARP is used to determine whether you fulfil these criteria.
For further information on EDA, see DVA Factsheet DP30.
Can I appeal against the assessment of my disability pension?
Yes. When the decision maker tells you about the amount of disability pension you will be paid, the decision maker will also tell you what you can do if you are not satisfied with the assessment. There are strict time limits for lodging appeals against disability pension assessments. The decision maker will tell you about the time limits.
DVA General Enquiries
Metro Phone: 133 254 *
Regional Phone: 1800 555 254 *
DVA Website: www.dva.gov.au
Factsheet Website: www.dva.gov.au/factsheets
* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges
- DP18 Making a Claim/Applying for an Increase in Disability Pension
- DP28 General Rate
- DP29 Special and Intermediate Rates
- DP30 Extreme Disablement Adjustment
- DP84 Rights of review in respect of a decision on your claim for compensation and entitlements under the VEA
The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances. You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet. Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined. You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA.