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Factsheet IS02 - How to Claim Service Pension

Purpose

This Factsheet explains what a service pension is and how to claim a service pension.

What is a service pension?

A service pension provides a regular income for people with limited means.  A service pension can be paid to veterans on the grounds of age or invalidity (incapacity to work), and to eligible partners, widows and widowers.  It is subject to income and assets tests.

The age service pension is paid earlier than the social security age pension paid by Centrelink, recognising that the intangible effects of war may result in premature ageing of the veteran and/or loss of earning power.  The invalidity service pension may be granted at any age up to age pension age (see 'What is Pension Age' below).

Partner service pension has different eligibility requirements depending on the medical status of the veteran, partner and other family circumstances, such as having dependent children.

The service pension is paid fortnightly, with the rate of payment dependent on the person’s assets and income and whether the partnered or single rate is payable.  The rate of service pension is reviewed twice-yearly, in March and September, in line with movements in the cost of living and/or average wages.

Refer to Factsheet IS01 Service Pension Overview.

Eligibility for veterans

Eligible veterans are those who:

  • have rendered qualifying service; and
  • meet the residency requirements; and
  • are of service pension age (refer to the section titled ‘What is pension age’ in this Factsheet); or
  • are permanently unable to work, or are permanently blind.

Eligibility for partners, widows and widowers

Partner service pension may be paid to partners of veterans who are receiving, or are eligible to receive, the service pension if they are:

  • partnered with and living with a veteran; or
  • separated from a veteran (under certain conditions).

Partners are eligible if:

  • they are qualifying age; or
  • they have dependent children; or
  • the veteran receives the special rate (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated) disability pension; or
  • the veteran is receiving, or eligible to receive, a Special Rate Disability Pension under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA); or
  • they are 50 years of age or over and the veteran receives an above general rate (AGR) disability pension.

Partner service pension is also payable to eligible widows, widowers and former partners of veterans who were receiving, or were eligible to receive, service pension at the time of the veteran’s death.

For detailed information regarding qualifying age and eligibility for partner service pension, please refer to Factsheet IS45 Partner Service Pension.

What is Pension age?

The age at which a veteran with qualifying service is eligible for age service pension is 60 years.

Age service pension qualifying age for a male or female partner of a veteran who has qualifying service is also 60 years.

For non-veterans, age pension age will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023, as per the table below:

If your date of birth is on or between: Then your pension age is:

Male and female non-veterans

Before 1 July 1952 65 years
1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953 65 years and 6 months
1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66 years
1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66 years and 6 months
On or after 1 January 1957 67 years

What do I need to do to claim service pension?

There are several channels available for claiming service pension which include:

To apply online;

  • go to the DVA website www.dva.gov.au and under the Online Services heading, select Online Claim
  • Under the Pension Applications heading, select Service Pension
  • Read the instructions carefully then select the Start Application button and follow the prompts to complete your application.

To apply through MyAccount:

  • You can access MyAccount from the DVA website under the Online Services heading and selecting MyAccount. If you already have a MyAccount, log in and follow the prompts to start your application. If you do not have a MyAccount, you must register by contacting the Veterans' Access Network on 133 254 (Metro) or FreeCall 1800 555 254 (regional callers) during business hours Monday to Friday to receive your username and password.

To make a hardcopy application:

Partners, widows and widowers of eligible veterans or mariners also need to complete a Form D0502 Qualifying Service Details Partner/Widow(er) of Non–Pensioner Veteran or Mariner (Australian, Commonwealth or Allied) if qualifying service for the veteran or mariner has not already been determined.

You may be required to provide copies of documentation to support your application.  For instance, you may be asked to provide copies of service documents, investment certificates, pay slips, rate notices, or tax returns.  Each form will state the documents needed.  By completing all forms relating to your circumstances, and providing copies of the necessary documents, you will help to reduce the time it takes to process your application.

When will my pension be payable from?

If you are planning to claim a service pension, you should telephone DVA and advise of your intention to claim. If you are eligible for service pension at the time of your phone call, it may be possible to backdate your pension to this date. If your claim is not received within 3 months of this telephone call, the earliest date of grant is the date of lodgement. If you decide to make a claim online and have not previously advised DVA of your intention to claim, your intention to claim date will be the date that you commenced your online application.

What if I need help filling out your forms?

If you need help filling out your application form, you can telephone DVA General Enquires or visit a local Veterans' Information Service (VIS) or Veterans' Access Network (VAN) for assistance.

Alternatively, ex-service organisations such as the RSL, Legacy, or the War Widows Guild, have pensions and welfare officers who will be able to help you with your claim.

Proof of identity

You will be required to provide us with sufficient documentation to prove your identity.  For more information refer to Factsheet DVA06 Proof of Identity Requirements.

What if I am applying on the grounds of invalidity?

If you are claiming the service pension because you are permanently incapacitated, that is you are no longer able to work or you are permanently blind, you may be required to undergo medical examinations to determine the extent of your incapacity.

You are permanently incapacitated for work if you have a level of impairment (from one or more conditions), which means that you are unable to work for more than 8 hours a week, and these conditions are regarded as permanent.  It is not necessary, for service pension purposes, that these conditions are accepted as war-caused.

It is necessary that your inability to work arises solely out of your impairment, rather than (for example) the local employment market, your transport needs, or your family situation.

The need for a medical examination will depend on:

  • whether you receive disability pension from DVA and, if so, the rate
  • whether you receive permanent impairment compensation under MRCA and, if so, the degree of impairment; and
  • whether we have current medical reports on our files that may relate to a claim for, or review of, disability pension or compensation under MRCA.

For instance, you may not be required to undergo any medical examinations for your service pension claim if:

  • you also receive a T&PI disability pension
  • you are receiving a disability support pension from Centrelink.

We will tell you if you need to undergo medical examinations, and will arrange these appointments for you.  You should provide copies of any medical reports you have from your local doctor or specialist.

You may be eligible to claim reimbursement of travel expenses related to these medical appointments.  For further information on how to claim, refer to Factsheet HSV03 Transport Modes available under the Repatriation Transport Scheme.

What does DVA do when I put in my claim?

If not already determined, DVA will determine your qualifying service and then work out how much service pension you will be receiving, depending on your income and assets.  When a decision has been made you will be notified by letter.  This will include the date of grant and amount of service pension you will receive.  Your Pensioner Concession Card will be issued at the same time.

DVA will also tell you if you are eligible for a Gold Card for treatment.  If you are eligible, the Gold Card will be posted separately 4–6 weeks later.

If I am not yet ready to give up work, can I still find out if I will be eligible for a service pension?

You can have your qualifying service determined even if you are not immediately applying for a service pension.  To do this, you will need to complete a form based on the circumstances of your service.

To determine your qualifying service, if you are:

DVA forms can be obtained by contacting your nearest DVA office or through the DVA website at http://www.dva.gov.au/dvaforms. If you are a current or ex-member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), you can also apply to have your qualifying service determined through DVA online services or MyAccount at www.dva.gov.au.

When a decision has been made, you will be notified by letter.

Even if you are working full time, you may be eligible for a reduced rate service pension.  Refer to Factsheet IS30 Pension Rates, Limits and Allowances Summary for information about the cut-off limits for payment of the pension.

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.

Related Factsheets

Related Forms

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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20 September 2019