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Factsheet IS19 - Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)

Purpose

This Factsheet explains what the Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA) is, who will receive it and how DFISA is calculated.  For more information refer to related Factsheets or contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).

What is DFISA?

DFISA is an income support payment made by DVA.

It may be made to people whose social security income support payment is reduced or not payable because of adjusted disability pension (adjusted DP).

What is adjusted DP?

Adjusted DP means:

  • General Rate (payable in multiples of 10% up to 100%), Extreme Disablement Adjustment, Intermediate Rate and Special Rate disability pensions paid under Part II or IV of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA);
  • Increased rates of disability pension for amputation and blindness, paid under section 27 of the VEA; and
  • permanent impairment payments and Special Rate Disability Pension paid under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004.

Adjusted DP does not include war widow(er)’s pension, orphan’s pension or payments made by other governments to compensate for war or service related injuries.

What Income Support Payments attract DFISA?

All income support payments paid under the Social Security Act 1991 attract DFISA, as well as certain income support payments paid under other legislation or guidelines.

DVA pays the following income support payments that attract DFISA:

  • Age pension
  • Wife pension.

Centrelink pays the following income support payments that attract DFISA:

  • Age pension
  • Wife pension
  • Disability support pension
  • Carer payment
  • Newstart allowance
  • Parenting payment
  • Sickness allowance
  • Bereavement allowance
  • Widow B pension
  • Youth allowance
  • Austudy payment
  • Widow allowance
  • Special benefit
  • Special needs pension
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • Interim income Support.

Who is entitled to DFISA?

You are entitled to DFISA if you qualify for an income support payment and you or your partner receives adjusted DP and you meet one of the following criteria:

  • your income support payment is reduced because of the impact of adjusted DP; or
  • your income support payment is not payable because of the impact of adjusted DP.

You are not entitled to DFISA if:

  • you are paid a social security income support payment under the financial hardship provisions; or
  • your income support payment is reduced because of your assets (your pension is assets tested); or
  • you receive the Department of Agriculture's Farm Household Allowance; or
  • you have elected not to receive DFISA.

Do I need to claim DFISA?

There is no need to claim DFISA.  If you are receiving an income support payment from DVA or Centrelink and it is being reduced because of adjusted DP, your DFISA will be automatically assessed and paid.  However, if you qualify for DFISA, but are not receiving an income support payment, you will need to claim a payment before your DFISA entitlement can be assessed.

How DFISA is calculated?

DFISA is the difference between the rate of your income support payment and what the payment would be if adjusted DP were exempt from the assessment, but included in the calculation of any rent assistance entitlements.

Your assessed rate of income support payment, including rent assistance, will not change.  Your income support payment will continue to be made by DVA or Centrelink each fortnight.

*Note: - Including adjusted DP in the notional calculation for rent assistance entitlements when calculating your DFISA can mean that if you are eligible for rent assistance, the amount of DFISA you receive may be reduced, possibly to nil.

DFISA where adjusted DP is reduced by compensation payments

The DFISA calculation takes account of the actual amount of adjusted DP that is included in the assessment of your income support payment.  Therefore, if your or your partner’s adjusted DP is reduced by another compensation payment only the actual amount of adjusted DP paid by DVA is used in the DFISA calculation.

The compensation payment that reduced the adjusted DP does not impact on the rate of DFISA, even if the compensation payment reduces the income support payment.

Who calculates and pays DFISA?

If Centrelink pays your income support payment, Centrelink calculates the amount of DFISA payable.  If DVA pays your age pension or partner pension, DVA calculates the amount of DFISA payable.

Regardless of who calculates your income support payment, DVA pays DFISA on DVA payday – every second Thursday.

What if I am not happy with the amount of DFISA I am receiving?

The calculation of DFISA is based on the income and assets assessment of your income support payment.  Therefore, if you are not happy with the amount of DFISA you are receiving, you can request a review, or lodge an appeal in respect of the amount of the income support payment you receive.  Applications for review should be sent to DVA if you receive age pension or wife pension from DVA, or in any other case, to Centrelink.

Social Security Income Support payments payable at nil rate

Generally, if your rate of income support payment is nil, you are not a social security recipient.

However, if you apply for income support payment and your rate of income support payment is assessed as nil, but you are entitled to receive an amount of DFISA, then you are considered to be a social security recipient, even though your rate of income support payment is nil.

*Note: - You will need to test your entitlement to the income support payment by applying for the payment before an assessment of DFISA entitlement can be made.

If you are a social security recipient in these circumstances, you are entitled to any benefits associated with receiving the income support payment.  You are also subject to all of the obligations applicable to social security pensioners, such as the obligation to notify of changes in income.

These benefits are available, and the obligations are applicable, even if you have elected not to receive DFISA.  Details on the election not to receive DFISA are contained later in this Factsheet.

Bereavement payments

If DFISA was payable to a deceased person prior to their death, any bereavement payment payable in respect of that person will be increased to take account of the amount of DFISA that person was receiving.

For further information on bereavement payments, refer to Factsheet BR04 Bereavement Information.

Obligations

If you are receiving DFISA you will need to advise DVA if your address or bank details change.

You must continue to comply with all your social security obligations, and report any change of circumstance that might impact on your income support payment to the agency which pays your income support payment, DVA or Centrelink.  For further information on your obligations refer to Factsheet IS138 The things you have to tell us - Social Security Age Pension.

Tax file number

You do not need to provide a tax file number to DVA in order to receive DFISA.

Election not to receive DFISA

You may elect not to receive DFISA.  If you decide to do so, you must do so by writing to DVA.

An election not to receive DFISA may be withdrawn, again by writing to DVA.

If you withdraw an election not to receive DFISA, payment of DFISA can only commence from the date DVA receives the notice of withdrawal.  Withdrawal of an election not to receive DFISA cannot be backdated.

Is DFISA taxable?

The taxable status of DFISA will be the same as the taxable status of the income support payment for which you are qualified.  That is:

  • if your income support payment is taxable, DFISA will also be taxable; or
  • if your income support payment is not taxable, DFISA will not be taxable.

For example, age pension is a taxable income support payment.  If you are an age pensioner, your DFISA is taxable.

If DFISA is taxable, DFISA will be included in the payment summary that you receive from DVA at the end of each financial year.  If your income support payment is paid by Centrelink, this may mean that you need to receive two payment summaries, one from Centrelink and one from DVA, before completing your tax return.

DFISA bonus

If your age pension bonus is reduced because of the inclusion of adjusted DP in the assessment of your age pension, you are entitled to receive a DFISA bonus.  DFISA bonus is a tax-free payment.

If you claim your age pension bonus from Centrelink, the amount of DFISA bonus is calculated by Centrelink but paid by DVA.  If you claim your age pension bonus from DVA, the amount of DFISA bonus is calculated by DVA and paid by DVA.

More information can be found in Factsheet IS06 DFISA Bonus.

Freedom of information

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 people may seek access to information about themselves.  This means that they can look at their personal files held by DVA and ask for copies of documents.

It is required that applications are made in writing.

Privacy

The Privacy Act 1988 governs the collection and handling of personal information by Australian Government agencies, including DVA, and the process is overseen by the Privacy Commissioner to ensure the rights of individuals are protected.

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

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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9 May 2018