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Factsheet HSV108 - Veterans' Vocational Rehabilitation Scheme (VVRS)

Purpose

This Factsheet is about the VVRS, including who is eligible and how to access the rehabilitation services offered.

What is the VVRS?

The VVRS is a voluntary scheme operated by DVA to help eligible veterans who need assistance to obtain or hold suitable paid employment.

Is the VVRS appropriate for me?

The VVRS might be appropriate for you if you are a veteran and you:

  • are about to leave the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and feel you need special assistance to move into civilian employment
  • want to increase your hours of paid employment
  • want to return to paid work
  • feel at risk of losing your job, or
  • find it increasingly difficult to keep up the hours you are working.

Am I eligible for assistance under the VVRS?

You are eligible to apply for assistance under the VVRS if you served in the ADF and have one of the following types of service under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA):

  • Operational service (including non-warlike or warlike service)
  • Peacekeeping service (including Australian Police on certain UN operations)
  • Hazardous service
  • Defence Service (generally means at least three years continuous full time service during the period 7 December 1972 to 6 April 1994, or continuous full time service during that period if medically discharged prior to having three years service), or
  • British Nuclear Test Defence service (at defined places between certain periods from 1952 to 1965).

You are also eligible if you served:

  • during the Second World War, including Australian mariners and those who served in the Interim Forces.

If you are a Commonwealth veteran, allied veteran or allied mariner who served in conflicts prior to January 1973 and eligible for invalidity service pension, and meet residency requirements, you are also eligible to apply to the VVRS for assistance.

You do not need to be in receipt of a DVA pension, medical treatment or have a VEA accepted condition or have qualifying service to be eligible for the VVRS.

VVRS rehabilitation services are provided on the basis of assessed need and are subject to the likelihood of a veteran obtaining suitable and sustainable employment.

If you would like to check whether you are eligible for the VVRS before completing an application, you can contact DVA (see 'More Information' at the end of this factsheet) and ask for the VVRS Coordinator. VVRS staff are available to provide more details about the scheme, your eligibility and rehabilitation requirements.

Veterans cannot undertake vocational rehabilitation under the VVRS concurrently with any other vocational rehabilitation program, including those external to DVA benefits. This includes rehabilitation services under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

How can the VVRS help me?

The VVRS can help you in many ways, including in the following circumstances:

  • If you are leaving the ADF, you may experience some difficulty with the transition to civilian employment, and assistance can be provided to find suitable employment.
  • If you are unemployed and wish to seek employment, assistance can be provided to assess and update your skills, job-seeking and employment skills.
  • If psychosocial barriers are preventing you from finding or keeping a job, assistance can be provided to help you address those barriers.
  • If you are working part-time, assistance can be provided to help you obtain increased hours of work.
  • If you are having trouble coping at work, but don’t want to leave the paid workforce, assistance can be provided to help you manage the situation or look at other employment options.
  • If you are experiencing difficulties managing your medical condition, assistance can be provided to help you establish a routine and coordinate your medical appointments, so you can find or maintain suitable employment.

What VVRS services are available?

A range of VVRS services are available to help you find or keep a job, including:

  • vocational assessment to determine transferrable skills and employment opportunities
  • advice on job-seeking including with finding work
  • assistance with updating or upgrading your skills including to gain recognition for your on-the-job training where this is essential for gaining or keeping employment
  • advice or support if your job is at risk
  • group social skills training
  • assistance in accessing support groups
  • anger management training
  • financial counseling, and
  • medication adherence training support in managing your medical condition.

Will the VVRS affect my VEA disability pension?

If you receive a disability pension under the VEA between 10-100% of the general rate, and you obtain or remain in employment while participating in the VVRS, the rate of disability pension you receive will not change.

Special Totally & Permanently Incapacitated (T&PI) rate and intermediate rate pensions are paid under the VEA because of an inability to work. If you are receiving one of these pensions and you obtain employment under the VVRS, your pension will be gradually reduced as follows.

  • Special (T&PI) rate pension – if you commence employment through the VVRS for twenty or more hours per week, the pension payment will gradually reduce to 100% of the general rate; or if you work between eight and twenty hours per week, the pension payment will gradually reduce to the equivalent of the intermediate rate pension.
  • Intermediate rate pension – if you work more than twenty hours per week, the pension payment will gradually reduce to 100% of the general rate.

The status of your special rate or intermediate rate pension (including all additional benefits) is retained, even beyond seven years of employment. If you leave the workforce for any reason, including normal retirement, your intermediate or special rate pension will be restored to the rate you were receiving prior to participation in the VVRS.

Will the scheme affect my VEA invalidity service pension?

If you begin work as a result of participation in the scheme, eligibility for the invalidity service pension will be retained for up to seven years. After the seven years, your invalidity service pension eligibility will be reviewed. For example, the continuation of your employment in excess of 8 hours per week will mean that you will cease to be regarded as permanently incapacitated for work and will lose eligibility for invalidity service pension The non-taxable status of your invalidity service pension remains in place until you lose invalidity service pension eligibility or you reach 65 years of age.

The invalidity service pension is subject to the income and asset tests. However, if you are participating in the VVRS, only fifty per cent of your gross employment earnings will be held in the income test for the first two years. Over the following five years there is a gradual increase until one hundred per cent of employment earnings are counted as income.

What is my role in the rehabilitation process?

The VVRS assists and encourages you to actively participate in the assessment process by collecting information specific to your vocational needs. This information will be used to formulate a rehabilitation plan that is based on agreed goals and tailored to specific needs. As part of your commitment to the program you will be required to sign the rehabilitation plan to acknowledge that you have been consulted throughout the process and that you agree with the plans objectives and prescribed activities.

During the rehabilitation program you will be kept informed of all important decisions. You will need to actively participate and adhere to the prescribed activities outlined in the rehabilitation plan. You can ask for your program to be amended if your personal or medical circumstances change significantly.

While participation in the VVRS is voluntary, it is expected that you will genuinely and actively participate in your rehabilitation program so that you can reach your vocational rehabilitation goals.

How can I apply?

You can apply by filling out the D1000 Veterans’ Vocational Rehabilitation Scheme Application Form and returning it to DVA, using the details provided on the form.

Once eligibility for VVRS is determined, accepted clients will be referred to a rehabilitation provider to have your rehabilitation needs assessed. Rehabilitation providers contracted to DVA will assign you a case manager when you start the VVRS program. The case manager will remain in contact with DVA throughout the rehabilitation process.

More Information

DVA General Enquiries

Phone: 1800 555 254 *

Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

DVA Website: www.dva.gov.au

Factsheet Website: www.dva.gov.au/factsheets

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

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Disclaimer

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.

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13 September 2019