- Age criteria
- Service pension
- Age service pension
- Invalidity service pension
- Partner service pension
- What affects the rate of the service pension?
- Social security age pension (paid by DVA)
- Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)
- Nil rate social security payment and DFISA
- Income support supplement for war widows and widowers
- Income support supplement based on invalidity grounds
- What affects the rate of the supplement?
- Disability pension
- Military Compensation
- War widow(er)'s pension and orphan's pension
This chapter is about income support payments and compensation paid by DVA. It aims to help you identify the type of pension you receive and gives you general information about other pensions and support available from DVA.
The pensions are:
- Service pension (means-tested).
- Social security age pension (paid by DVA) (means-tested).
- Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)
- Income support supplement for war widow(er)s (means-tested).
- Disability pension (not means-tested).
- Compensation payments under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA)
- War widow(er)'s pension (not means-tested).
- Orphan's pension (not means-tested).
For information about allowances and concessions see Chapter 6- Benefits and services. For health care information, see Chapter 7 - Your health.
Your age and date of birth may affect your eligibility for a number of pensions and associated benefits. Superannuation products are assessed based on your age and your age will determine if some pensions are taxable payments subject to income tax.
Pension age for veterans is 60 years.
Pension age for non-veterans is 65 years.
Since January 2014 the age requirements for non-veterans, male and female, have been the same.
From 1 July 2017 age pension age (non-veteran) will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 on 1 July 2023. This will not affect people born before 1 July 1952.
Service pensions are means-tested pensions, like the social security age pension and disability support pension paid by Centrelink. Service Pensions are paid on the grounds of age or invalidity to eligible veterans and to eligible partners including widows and widowers. Veterans must have qualifying service (which broadly means operational or warlike service) and can receive the age service pension earlier than people can receive the social security age pension, acknowledging that the effects of war may be intangible and result in premature ageing.
There are two rates of service pension: the singles rate and the couples rate. The rate paid for each member of a couple is less than the rate paid to a single person because couples can share household costs.
Age pension can be paid from pension age to eligible veterans. Refer to 'What affects the rate of service pension' later in this chapter for more information on other factors that impact on the payment of the service pension.
Note: You cannot receive a DVA service pension and a social security pension at the same time.
Invalidity service pension can be granted to eligible veterans below age pension age who are permanently incapacitated for work. The incapacity does not need to be service related.
For invalidity service pension purposes, a person is considered to be automatically accepted as meeting the permanently incapacitated for work test if the person is:
- permanently blind in both eyes; or
- in receipt of or eligible for the Special Rate of disability pension (T&PI); or
- in receipt of or eligible for the Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).
If the person does not meet the conditions for automatic acceptance, the following criteria need to be satisfied
- the person has a disability(ies) that results in a combined impairment rating of 40 points or more using the Guide to the Assessment of Rates of Veterans' Pensions (GARP); and
- the incapacity from the disability(ies) alone, permanently prevents the person from working for periods adding up to more than 8 hours per week; and
- the disability(ies) is permanent.
On reaching age pension age, invalidity service pension continues to be paid, however, the payment becomes taxable income.
Refer to 'What affects the rate of service pension' later in this chapter for more information on other factors that impact on the payment of the invalidity service pension.
Note: You cannot receive a DVA service pension and a social security payment at the same time.
You may be eligible to receive the partner service pension if:
- you are married to or living in a de facto relationship with a veteran eligible for or receiving a service pension; and
- you are at least qualifying age; or
- you have dependent children; or
- you are the partner of a service pensioner who also receives the Special Rate (T&PI) disability pension under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 ; or
- you are the partner of a person receiving or eligible for the Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004; or
- you are 50 years of age or above and you are the partner of a service pensioner who receives an above general rate (AGR) disability pension. AGR includes general rate disability pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 that is increased by subsection 27(1) items 1 to 6, or extreme disablement adjustment, intermediate rate, temporary special rate (TTI) disability pensions;
- or where the veteran has been assessed under the MRCA as having 80 or more impairment points.
If you are a widow or widower (not receiving a war widow/er pension), you may be eligible for partner service pension in certain circumstances. For further information and details of other situations, please refer to the factsheet or contact your nearest DVA office.
Note: If you are married to a veteran but have been separated for more than 12 months, then you will not be eligible for a partner service pension unless you are Centrelink age pension age or special domestic circumstances apply. For further information see Chapter 4 - Living Arrangements.
Refer to 'What affects the rate of service pension' later in this chapter for more information on other factors that may impact on the payment of the service pension.
Note: You cannot receive a DVA service pension and a social security pension at the same time.
Your living arrangements and your income and assets affect the rate of your service pension. For example, if you live with your partner your service pension is paid at the couples rate not the singles rate. If you have dependent children, you may be eligible for additional allowances paid by Centrelink.
If you receive a disability pension under the VEA, or a permanent impairment payment or special rate disability pension under MRCA as well as a service pension, the disability pension or MRCA payment is not counted as income for service pension purposes although it can affect how much rent assistance you may receive. See Chapter 4 - Living Arrangements and Chapter 5 - Your Income and Assets.
Generally the social security age pension is paid by Centrelink. However, Australian veterans receiving a disability pension through DVA, who do not qualify for service pension are able to receive all of their payments from DVA by having DVA pay their social security age pension.
You may be eligible to receive a social security age pension (paid by DVA), if you are an Australian veteran and you:
- receive a DVA disability pension or have an accepted disability under the VEA and only receive veterans supplement and
- are age pension age and
- receive a social security age pension, or are eligible to receive it; and
- do not receive a service pension from DVA or any income support pension other than an age pension from Centrelink.
A partner of an Australian veteran who is receiving or eligible to receive the social security age pension from Centrelink may also choose to have DVA pay their pension.
The rules for calculating the social security age pension (paid by DVA) for the veteran and partner are contained in social security law. It is subject to an income and assets test and is paid by DVA.
Note: You cannot receive a social security pension and a DVA service pension at the same time.
DFISA may be paid to people whose social security income support payment is reduced (including to nil), because adjusted disability pension is counted as income in their assessment.
Adjusted disability pension means:
- General Rate (payable in multiples of 10% up to 100%), Extreme Disablement Adjustment, Intermediate Rate and Special Rate disability pensions paid under 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 (MRCA).
DFISA is the difference between the rate of your income support payment and what the payment would be if adjusted disability pension was exempt, but was included in the calculation of any rent assistance entitlements.
You are considered to be a social security recipient even if your rate of social security payment is nil but DFISA is payable. This means that you are entitled to the additional benefits you would have received had you been receiving the social security payment at a rate greater than nil including for example, a concession card. If you claimed your social security payment from Centrelink, the additional benefits will be provided by Centrelink. If you claimed your social security age pension from DVA, the additional benefits will be provided by DVA. See Chapter 6 - Benefits and Services.
You will also be subject to the obligations applicable to social security recipients. If you have claimed your payment from Centrelink, you will have been advised of your obligations by Centrelink. If you claimed your social security age pension from DVA, your obligations are contained in the letter notifying you of the grant of pension and further explained in Chapter 2 - Obligations.
Income support supplement (ISS) is payable to eligible Australian war widows and widowers. This includes widows and widowers eligible for death compensation under the MRCA as wholly dependent partners. The income support supplement is a means-tested payment paid in addition to the war widow's pension or MRCA benefits.
There is no age restriction on eligibility for income support supplement.
Invalidity income support supplement when paid to a person who is under age pension age is non-taxable income.
To receive income support supplement on the grounds of invalidity, you must be permanently incapacitated for work.
You are considered permanently incapacitated for work if:
- you are permanently blind in both eyes; or
- you have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability; and
- the disability(ies), are assessed at 20 points or more under the Impairment Tables in Schedule 1B of the Social Security Act 1991; and
- you are unable to work for at least 30 hours a week; and
- the disability(ies) alone prevents you working for the next two years.
Your living arrangements and your income and assets affect the rate of your supplement. The war widow's pension, MRCA death compensation and any disability pension or pension similar to the war widow’s pension paid by other governments are counted as income in the assessment of the income support supplement.
If your war widow's pension is reduced because of a compensation payment, the supplement may be paid at a higher maximum (ceiling) rate than for other income support supplement recipients. (See Chapter 4 - Living arrangements and Chapter 5 - Your income and assets.)
Disability pension under the VEA, or a permanent impairment payment or special rate disability pension under the MRCA, payable to you or your partner is not counted as income but can affect how much rent assistance you may receive. (See Chapter 4 - Living arrangements and Chapter 5 - Your income and assets.)
Note: You cannot receive a DVA income support supplement and a service pension or a social security pension or benefit from Centrelink at the same time. There are also a number of social security pensions and benefits that are not payable to a person who is receiving a war widow's pension. Continuation of such payments after grant of war widow's pension may result in a recoverable overpayment. For more information please contact your nearest DVA office.
This guide You and Your Pension is available on CD for people who have difficulty reading standard print. Please contact your nearest DVA office for a CD if you need one.
If you meet the criteria to be regarded as blind for purposes of income support pension, you will receive the maximum rate of that pension regardless of your income and assets. However, your income and assets may affect how much rent assistance you receive. If you are married or living in a de facto relationship, you will receive the maximum couples rate of the pension but your partner's pension, if they are not regarded as blind for pension purposes, will be assessed under the income and assets tests.
If at anytime you are regarded as blind and are receiving an income support pension, you should notify DVA. This is important as it helps to ensure that you continue to receive the correct rate of income support. For example, if you are currently receiving less than maximum rate of pension, then this can be adjusted to reflect your changed circumstances.
If you are a resident in an aged care home and accepted as blind for pension purposes, you may be required to pay a means tested aged care fee. This means that your income and assets details will need to be provided to DVA to ensure your aged care fees are correctly assessed. See Chapter 4 - Living Arrangements.
For more information contact your nearest DVA office.
Note: An income support pension includes age, invalidity or partner service pension, social security age pension (paid by DVA) and income support supplement. The special income and assets test rules apply to any income support pensioner who is regarded as blind for income support purposes.
The disability pension is paid to compensate veterans for injuries or diseases caused or aggravated by war or defence service on behalf of Australia before 1 July 2004. These injuries or diseases are known as ‘accepted disabilities’.
How disability pension is worked out
Once an injury or disease has been accepted, the rate at which the disability pension is paid is based on:
- the degree of impairment you suffer from your accepted disability; and
- the effect of the accepted disability on your lifestyle including any restriction on your capacity for waged income.
Even if your incapacity from your accepted disability is assessed as nil you will still be entitled to health care services for your accepted disability.
Different rates of disability pension
There are four categories of disability pension:
- General Rate - paid according to the incapacity and lifestyle effects of an accepted disability in 10% multiples up to the 100% rate.
- Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) - paid in respect of extreme incapacity to veterans who are over 65.
- Intermediate Rate - paid to veterans whose incapacity is so great that it, alone, prevents them from undertaking employment for 20 hours or more per week and has caused loss of earnings.
- Special Rate (T&PI) - paid to veterans who are blind in both eyes or whose incapacity, alone, prevents them from undertaking remunerative employment for more than 8 hours per week and has caused them loss of earnings. The Special Rate can be paid for a set time to someone who is totally temporarily incapacitated (TTI) by accepted disabilities, but is subject to periodical review.
Depending on your accepted disability you may also be eligible for certain allowances such as attendant allowance, recreation transport allowance, decoration allowance, loss of earnings allowance, clothing allowance and allowances under the Vehicle Assistance Scheme.
Note: You cannot receive a DVA attendant allowance whilst your carer receives a social security carer payment paid by Centrelink.
Disability pension and compensation offsetting
Disability pension paid under the VEA may be reduced by the payment of compensation from other sources, if it is paid for the same incapacity. This is referred to as compensation offsetting.
Compensation offsetting may also be applied where compensation payments are paid under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), administered by DVA.
Compensation offsetting is complex and you are strongly advised to contact DVA to find out more about the effects specific to your circumstances.
- DP82 Disability Pension and Compensation Offsetting
- DVA23 Notifying DVA of your compensation payment
If you need advice or more information about the disability pension and/or allowances, or if you want to claim a pension or an increase in your existing rate of pension, contact your nearest DVA office.
Note: If you are granted or receive an increase in disability pension and are in receipt of any payment from Centrelink you should advise Centrelink of the change in your income.
If you served in the ADF (either full-time or part-time) between 3 January 1949 and 30 June 2004, there may be entitlement to claim benefits under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) for injuries, illnesses or death resulting from this service.
If your ADF service (either full-time or part-time) covers any period on or after 1 July 2004, you may be eligible for benefits under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) for injuries, illnesses, disease or death resulting from this service.
The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) replaces the military compensation arrangements previously applied under the VEA, the SRCA and any additional benefits under the Defence Act 1903. However, existing entitlements under these Acts relating to service before 1 July 2004 are not affected.
For more information about Military Compensation contact your nearest DVA office. By phoning 133 254, you can contact staff in the Rehabilitation & Compensation Group from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call.
Further information about MRCA can also be obtained from the:
- Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Information Booklet (PDF 358 KB)
Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Information Booklet (DOC 418 KB)
Arrangements are in place to prevent a person being compensated under multiple Acts for the same injury, illness or death. As these arrangements are very complex, it is important that you contact your nearest DVA office and speak to an officer who is trained in handling dual eligibility enquiries.
These pensions are paid to compensate widows, widowers and dependent children of veterans whose death has been accepted as related to war or defence service rendered before 1 July 2004. These pensions are also payable if the veteran was an Australian ex-prisoner of war, or was receiving:
- a Special Rate (T&PI) disability pension, or
- the Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA), or
- a disability pension at the Intermediate Rate, or
- a disability pension at the Temporary Special Rate, or
- a disability pension at an increased rate for a condition specified in any of items 1 to 8 of subsection 27(1) of the VEA (these items relate to double amputees who may also be blind in one eye).
War widow(er)'s pension may be affected by compensation in respect of the veteran's death which is paid from another source. If you have received or are able to claim compensation or damages you should notify your nearest DVA office. For example, if you are receiving any payments from the Dust Diseases Board as a result of the veteran's death you must notify DVA as your war widow's pension will need to be adjusted.
If you need advice or more information about pensions for war widows and orphans, contact your nearest DVA office. Your local War Widows Guild or Legacy office may also be able to help you.
Note: If you are granted a war widow’s pension you are no longer eligible to receive an income support payment from Centrelink, however you may be eligible for Income Support Supplement from DVA (refer to the information earlier in this chapter). You should advise Centrelink that you have been granted a war widow’s pension.