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Programme 1.3: Assistance to Defence widow/ers and dependants


Programme 1.3 delivers war widow(er)’s and defence pensions, allowances and special purpose assistance to the dependants of veterans under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and related legislation. Programme 1.3 also delivers payments of war widows’ and widowers’ claims for compensation.


The war widow(er)’s pension is part of a compensation package made in recognition of the special circumstances affecting veterans and their families. The pension is paid fortnightly to compensate a widowed partner of a veteran, where there was a connection between the veteran’s death and service. Eligible children are provided with financial support through a fortnightly orphan’s pension. These pensions are not taxable and are not subject to an income or assets test. War widow(er)’s pension and orphan’s pension are not affected by other income, except income from other compensation payments.

For veterans most affected by their service-related disabilities, a pension may be automatically granted to their widow or widower or eligible dependants following their death. Widows, widowers and dependants who do not qualify automatically for a pension may lodge a claim to have the veteran’s death accepted as service related.

In 2013–14:

  • 2,012 war widow(er)’s pension claims were finalised, with an acceptance rate of 56 per cent
  • the mean time taken to process widow(er)’s pension claims was 45 days, within the target of 75 days.

The forecast reduction in the number of war widows and widowers continued this year with a drop of 19.3 per cent, from 101,090 at 30 June 2010 to 81,531 at 30 June 2014. Over the past five years there has been a 39.1 per cent reduction in claims for the war widow(er)’s pension, from 3,158 in 2009–10 to 1,924 in 2013–14.


The rate of decline of this population is expected to increase in coming years. Expenses are expected to reduce as the population reduces in size.

Administered and Departmental expenses – Programme outcomes against Budget
  2013–14 PBS ($M) ESTIMATED ACTUAL 2013–14 ($M) OUTCOME 2013–14 ($M)
Administered 1,848.6 1,846.0 1,842.1
Departmental 11.5 11.6 13.9
Total resources 1,860.1 1,857.6 1,856.0

PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements


The Department will process claims and pay pensions, allowances and other support to war and defence widows and widowers under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and related legislation.

Deliverables – Programme outcomes against Budget projections
  2013–14 PBS ESTIMATED ACTUAL 2013–14 OUTCOME 2013–14
Quantity: Number of war and Defence widows(er)’s pensioners 82,200 81,300 81,531

PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements

Key performance indicators

Key Performance Indicators – Programme outcomes against Budget target
  2013–14 PBS ESTIMATED ACTUAL 2013–14 OUTCOME 2013–14
Timeliness: Mean number of days to process a primary claim 75 75 45
Timeliness: Mean number of days to prepare s.31 review 40 40 6
Price: Cost per war widow(er)’s pensioner $/beneficiary $128 $129 $153
Quality: Critical errors <5% <5% 4.4

PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements

Report on performance

There were 1,924 claims for war widow(er)’s pension received in 2013–14 compared with 2,335 claims in 2012–13, a decrease of 17.6 per cent.

The number of war widow(er)’s pension claims finalised in 2013–14 totalled 2,012, compared with 2,402 in 2012–13. Of the finalised claims this year, 56 per cent were accepted, which is the same acceptance rate as in 2012–13. The number of cases on hand was down by 30.7 per cent, from 287 at 30 June 2013 to 199 at 30 June 2014.

Figure 9 shows the declining trend in war widow(er)’s pension claims over the past five years.

Figure 9: War widow(er)’s pension claims 2009–10 to 2013–14

War widow/ers pension claims 2009-10 to 2013-14, shown as number of cases: intake, disposal and outstanding

Time taken to process

The mean time to process war widow(er)’s pension claims in 2013–14 was 45 days, compared with 50 days in 2012–13. These processing times were within the target of 75 days.

The mean time to process section 31 reviews was six days compared with 13 days in 2012–13, within the target of 40 days. See Programme 1.2 for further information on section 31 reviews.


The administration cost (programme staff and administration expenses) per war widow or widower in 2013–14 was $153 compared with $128 in 2012–13. The number of war widows and widowers declined, resulting in the cost per client increasing.


The performance standard applied to assess the quality of decision making is a critical error rate of less than 5 per cent. Sampling conducted on war widow(er)’s pension claims during the year returned a 4.4 per cent critical error rate.

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