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Factsheet IS45 - Partner Service Pension

Purpose

This Factsheet explains what the partner service pension is, who is eligible and how to apply.  For more information on specific topics contact DVA.

What is the partner service pension?

A service pension provides a regular income for people with limited means and is subject to the income and assets test.  Partner service pension is the payment made to eligible partners, former partners and widows/widowers of veterans.

Service pension is paid fortnightly, based on daily entitlements.  The rate of service pension is adjusted twice-yearly, in March and September, in line with movements in the cost of living and/or average wages.

The maximum rates of service pension, including energy supplement, are as follows:

Singles rate $933.40
Illness separated rate (each) $933.40
Couples rate (each) $703.50

 For general information about the service pension refer to Factsheet IS01 Service Pension Overview.

Who is eligible for partner service pension?

A partner service pension can be paid to an eligible:

  • partner of a veteran with qualifying service;
  • former partner of a veteran with qualifying service; or
  • widow or widower of a veteran who had qualifying service.

Further eligibility requirements for current partners, former partners and widow/ers, including age requirements, are set out below

Eligibility for current partners

You are a current partner if you are legally married to and living with a veteran, or living in a de facto relationship.  If you remain a member of a couple but have to live separately because one or both of you is too frail or ill to stay at home, and the separation is likely to be indefinite, you are also considered to be a current partner.

You are eligible for partner service pension as a current partner if the veteran:

  • is receiving, or is eligible to receive a service pension, or
  • is registered as a member of the pension bonus scheme (PBS)

You are also eligible for partner service pension if the veteran has rendered qualifying service but is not yet eligible for service pension and you have reached age pension age.

You also need to meet the Age requirements and any relevant exemptions explained later in this factsheet.

What is a de facto relationship?

A de facto relationship is where two people who are not married are living together (or usually live together) and are members of a couple.

You are considered to be a de facto partner if your relationship is registered under certain prescribed State and Territory laws that provide for registration of relationships.  If you are not in a registered relationship, some of the factors we consider when we decide whether two people are living in a de facto relationship are whether you:

  • think of yourselves as a couple;
  • share financial and household responsibilities;
  • undertake joint social and leisure activities; and
  • appear as a couple to the general community.

Evidence relating to these factors is considered, although not all factors need to be present for a decision to be made that you are in a de facto relationship.

Eligibility for former partners

Partner service pension may be paid to former partners who are separated from a veteran who is receiving, or is eligible to receive a service pension.  You also need to meet the age requirements and any relevant exemptions explained later in this factsheet.

Your eligibility as a former partner will cease after a 12 month period starting from the date of your separation unless:

  • you are age pension age at the end of the 12 month period; or
  • special domestic circumstances apply.

Special domestic circumstances are where the veteran has a mental health condition recognised by Veterans’ Affairs and there was an unsafe or abusive domestic environment in respect of you or your family prior to separation.

To ascertain whether you meet all the eligibility criteria for special domestic circumstances you should contact DVA.

In all circumstances, eligibility for partner service pension is lost immediately when you commence a de facto relationship with, or marry, another person.

Eligibility for widows or widowers

If you were receiving the partner service pension immediately before the veteran's death, you continue to be eligible for that pension. This includes if you were separated from the veteran and still receiving partner service pension prior to the veteran's death.

If you are qualified for the age pension and your partner had rendered qualifying service, you are eligible for the partner service pension.

You are also eligible for partner service pension as a widowed partner if the veteran:

  • was receiving, or was eligible to receive a service pension, or
  • was registered as a member of the pension bonus scheme (PBS), or
  • had made a claim for service pension which would have been granted if s/he had not died

You will also need to meet the age requirements and any relevant exemptions explained later in this factsheet.  Which requirement or exemption applies depends on whether you received or had applied for a pension immediately before the veteran's death.

If you are granted a war widow’s/widower’s pension, you are no longer eligible to receive partner service pension.  You may instead receive the income support supplement.

Age requirements and exemptions – current or former partners

The following table applies if the veteran is receiving or eligible to receive a service pension, or is a registered PBS member.

Partner age requirements Conditions
No age requirement
  • you have a dependent child or children when the claim for partner service pension is made; or
  • your veteran partner receives the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (T&PI) special rate disability pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA); or
  • your veteran partner is receiving or eligible to receive a Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).
50 years of age or over
  • your veteran partner receives an above general rate (AGR) disability pension under the VEA or MRCA. 
    That is:
    • extreme disablement adjustment under subsection 22(4) of the VEA;
    • intermediate rate under section 23 of the VEA;
    • temporary special rate under section 25 of the VEA;
    • disability pension increased by a Specific Disability Amount specified in table items 1–6 of the table in subsection 27(1) of the VEA; or
    • your veteran partner has at least 80 impairment points as per subsection 80(1) of the MRCA.
Qualifying age or over (Refer to the section ‘What is qualifying age?’)
  • if the above categories do not apply

Age requirements and exemptions – widows/widowers

If you were receiving a partner service pension before the death of the veteran you will continue to receive partner service pension and will be not be subject to new age requirements.

If you were receiving a social security pension before the veteran’s death, you had lodged a claim for partner service pension before the veteran’s death, or you were a registered member of the pension bonus scheme, the age requirements and exemptions shown in the Table above apply.

Otherwise, you must be age pension age.

What is qualifying age?

Qualifying age is 60 years for both males and females.

What is age pension age?

Some partner service pension claimants need to be eligible for an age pension from Centrelink.  Age pension age will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023. To be eligible for an age pension from Centrelink you must be of age pension age according to the table below:

Male and Female Non-Veterans
If your date of birth is on or between: Then your pension age is:
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

When would I lose eligibility for partner service pension?

Eligibility for partner service pension is lost if:

  • you are eligible as a former partner who and you enter into a defacto relationship with, or marry, another person;
  • you are eligible as a former partner who separated from a veteran and you have been separated for 12 months, unless you are age pension age or special domestic circumstances apply;
  • you are a widow or widower and you enter into a de facto relationship or re-marry;
  • you no longer meet the Age requirements and exemptions (this may occur if the veteran’s disability pension reduces); or
  • you become a war widow or war widower (this includes a wholly dependent partner under the MRCA).

How do you claim?

You must be a resident of Australia when you claim.  For more information on residency refer to Factsheet IS 50 Residency.

If you are planning to claim a partner service pension, you should telephone DVA and advise of your intention to claim so that your pension may be granted from the earliest date possible.

When you telephone DVA, enquiry staff will be able to assist you by:

  • Recording your intent to claim;
  • Providing information to assist you to create your own personalised MyAccount for managing all of your dealings with DVA, including lodging claims;
  • Providing guidance on lodging an online claim through the DVA website at www.dva.gov.au ; or
  • Tailoring a hard copy claim pack to be posted to your for completion; or
  • Arranging an appointment at a local Veterans' Information Service (VIS) or Veterans' Access Network (VAN) office where an officer can assist you to lodge your claim.

For more information on claiming partner service pension, please refer to the Factsheet IS02 How to Claim Service Pension

If qualifying service for the veteran or mariner has not already been determined you will also need to complete the Form D0502 Qualifying Service Details (Service Pension Claim) Partner / Widow(er) of Non-Pensioner Veteran or Mariner(Australian, Commonwealth or Allied).  This is only necessary if the veteran has not yet claimed service pension, or is not claiming pension when the partner service pension claim is lodged.

By completing all forms relating to your circumstances you will help reduce the time it takes to process your application.  In addition to documents such as birth certificates, marriage or registered relationship certificates, and passports as proof of identity and your relationship to the veteran, you may be asked to provide copies of other documents such as investment certificates, rates notices and tax returns to support your claim.

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 am already receiving an income support pension from Centrelink?

If you receive an income support payment from Centrelink (e.g. Newstart, Age Pension etc.) you must indicate this on the claim form.  If you are granted a service pension from DVA your payment from Centrelink will cease.  In this case we will contact Centrelink so they can cancel your Centrelink payment.

What if I do not meet the eligibility criteria for partner service pension?

If you require income support but do not meet the eligibility criteria for partner service pension, you may be eligible for a payment from Centrelink.  You should contact Centrelink to test your eligibility for a Centrelink payment.

Obligations

When you are granted an income support pension and periodically after that, you will be notified of your obligations. You will be required to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of changes to your circumstances that might affect the rate of income support pension you receive or your eligibility to receive that pension. These obligations apply equally to trustees.

In relation to partner service pension, the sorts of things you would need to tell us about in 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) are:

  • you are in a de facto relationship and you separate from your partner
  • you divorce your partner, or enter into a de facto relationship with another person
  • you are a widow or widower and you enter into a de facto relationship, or remarry.

Usually an overpayment of pension will not occur when you have met your obligations.  However, sometimes even if you have met your obligations, an overpayment can occur because we have not been able to process the change before the next payday.  We do our best to avoid this occurring, but it is not always possible.  To provide you with your exact entitlements we are obliged to recover overpayments of pension where they do occur.

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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20 September 2019