Claim processing times

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As more veterans access our services, we have seen a big increase in the number of compensation claims. We are working on reducing wait times. Find out what to expect.


What to expect after you submit a compensation claim

After you submit a compensation claim for a service-related injury or condition, here are the steps we take to process your claim.

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Where things are at

In the month of October 2023 we:

  • made 9,076 decisions on claims
  • received claims from 6,373 veterans

As at 31 October 2023 we:

  • were working on 59,204 claims
  • had 16,723 active claims not yet allocated to an officer for processing (known as the claims backlog), lodged by 10,342 veterans

Table 1: 2022–23 financial year claims lodged, determined and initial liability acceptance rate

Claims lodged Claims determined Acceptance rate for initial liability conditions
72,201* 67,817 74.0%

* This figure has been updated following the end of financial year reconciliation that captures late registrations that occurred throughout the year i.e. claims registered after the end of month data has been run, and provides the total overall net claims lodged for the 2022-23 financial year.

Table 2: 2023-24– financial year to date (to 31 October 2023) claims lodged, determined and initial liability acceptance rate

Claims lodged Claims determined Acceptance rate for initial liability conditions
26,363 32,293 72.5%

Table 3: Claims in the backlog

Claim type Claims as at
30 June 2022
Claims as at 31 August 2023 Claims as at 30 September 2023 Claims as at 31 October 2023 Change from previous month
MRCA Initial Liability 16,909 5,800 3,424 573 -2,851
DRCA Initial Liability 1,315 571 705 774 +69
VEA Disability Compensation Payment 1,225 690 762 801 +39
Dual Act (DRCA / VEA) 1,454 366 426 435 +9
Tri Act (MRCA / DRCA / VEA) 14,572 5,877 4,762 2,152 -2,610
VEA Application for Increase (AFI) 180 16 40 8 -32
Total Initial Liability  Backlog 35,655 13,320 10,119 4,743 -5,376
MRCA Permanent Impairment 4,053 3,851 3,342 3,537 +195
DRCA Permanent Impairment 3,961 7,986 8,202 8,374 +172
Total Permanent Impairment Backlog 8,014 11,837 11,544 11,911 +367
186 330 252 69 -183
War Widows 0 0 0 0 0
Grand Total^ 43,855 25,487 21,915 16,723 -5,192

^ The grand total of claims is the number of submitted claims in each category. It is not the number of individuals with claims. Veterans are able to submit any number of claims, across a number of claim types, such as Initial Liability and Permanent Impairment.

Please note: Initial Liability (IL) under MRCA and DRCA must be determined before Permanent Impairment (PI) compensation can be determined.  This means once an IL claim is accepted, it may then generate a PI claim.  Veterans can access treatment for any condition accepted when an IL claim is determined.

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How long it takes

The time it takes to process a claim depends on how complex it is. It also depends on how quickly we receive all the information we need.

To reduce processing times and address the backlog of claims, we are:

  • improving our processes
  • recruiting and training more staff
  • checking when we receive a claim for signs a veteran may be at risk so we can prioritise their claim or offer extra support
  • checking claims when we receive them so we can ask veterans for any information that is missing while their claim is waiting to be allocated 
  • keeping veterans informed about how their claims are progressing and what they can expect
  • following up on any information that we still need, and
  • progressing towards the next steps in the legislation simplification and harmonisation process. The Government will make a final decision on legislation simplification and harmonisation taking into account feedback received during the consultation process. More information on the proposed pathway can be found on the Veterans’ Legislation Reform Consultation Pathway page of the DVA website.

What to expect

The table below shows the average time each type of claim is taking to process. This is based on the claims decided between 1 July 2023 and 31 October 2023.

Go to the Key terms explained section for more detail on the terms used in the table.

Table 4: Claims processing times

The average time taken to process is in calendar days. Claims will take a variety of times to complete based on whether or not the claim is prioritised for allocation to an officer and the complexity of the claim itself. For example, if the service of the individual crosses two or more Acts or contains a lot of health conditions and injuries or both. This results in some claims being decided faster than the average in the table below, while some claims take longer.

Type of claim Average number of days from lodgement to allocate to an officer for processing Average number of days between allocation to an officer for processing and the decision being made Average number of days between lodgement and the claim being decided
MRCA Initial Liability 288 122 410
DRCA Initial Liability 279 209 487
VEA Disability Compensation Payment 285 236 521
MRCA Permanent Impairment 131 118 248
DRCA Permanent Impairment 188 113 301
MRCA and DRCA Incapacity Payments 42 60 101
War widow(er)’s pension Not available Not available 114

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Chief Operating Officer & Deputy Secretary Client Benefits Group

What you can do

For any condition, to make the claiming process smoother, follow these 3 steps:

  • Step 1: Get your medical practitioner to confirm your diagnosis.
  • Step 2: Supply the documents you need to.
  • Step 3: Check if you are already eligible for free health care and treatment.

If you are unsure about whether to claim a certain condition, many ex-service organisations have advocates who are trained to help. You can use the Advocate Register to find one near you.

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Why processing times vary

Some claims also take longer than others because they are complex. Complex claims might:

  • include multiple conditions
  • relate to more than one Act
  • need significant investigation into the condition itself or what caused it.

The single most effective step you can take to speed things up is to provide all the information we might need when you lodge your claim, or as soon as possible afterwards.

This includes making sure that you and your doctor complete all relevant sections of any claim you submit.

If we don’t have everything we need when we are processing your claim, there will be a delay. We might have to ask you, your medical provider or Defence for the information that’s missing and then wait until we receive it. This takes time. Contact us or an advocate if you’re not sure what documents you need to support your claim.

Find out more about:

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Why the number of claims has increased

We are completing more claims each year, but the number of claims we are receiving continues to rise. Some of the reasons for this are that we have:

  • made it easier to claim online using MyService
  • connected with veterans who were previously unaware of our services, such as through the Veterans’ Recognition Program, mobile service centres and social media
  • expanded some services to include veterans and serving members with at least one day of continuous full-time service.
  • serving members who are more aware that it’s important to claim for injuries when they happen and to claim all conditions before they transition out of Defence.

Trends in claims over time

Go to DVA Annual Reports 2012-13 to 2020-21DVA Annual Report 2021–22 - Appendix A: Veteran and claims statistics, DVA Annual Report 2022-23 - Appendix A: Veterans and claims statistics and the Statistics about the veteran population to get information on:

  • the number of claims we’ve received over recent years
  • conditions that are being claimed
  • compensation claims on hand, and
  • other related data.
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Key terms explained

Here are some definitions to help you understand the claims data in the tables.

Acceptance Rate

The percentage of conditions accepted in proportion to those decided


Also called the mean, average refers to the sum of processing days for all claims decided, divided by the total number of claims decided. It is provided for a specific period, such as a month or the financial year to date.


The backlog is the number of claims that are not currently being processed, ie have not been allocated to a decision-maker.


A claim is a veteran’s request that we accept liability or pay compensation for an injury or disease that was caused or made worse by their service. A claim can include multiple conditions. Veterans can lodge any number or type of claim.


A condition is any injury or disease that a veteran has claimed was caused or made worse by their service. This claim could be under any of the 3 Acts.


Financial Year To Date – period of time from 1 July in the current year to the reporting date.

The 3 Acts

Veterans’ service is covered by 3 Acts, known as the MRCA, VEA and DRCA. Which Act you are covered by will depend on the service that relates to your injury or disease. As a general rule, if your condition relates to service:

  • after 1 July 2004, then the MRCA will apply
  • before 1 July 2004, then either the VEA, the DRCA or both will apply
  • that spans 1 July 2004, then one or more of the VEA, DRCA and MRCA will apply.

For information on the 3 different Acts, go to the:

Time taken to process

This is the length of time taken for a decision to be made on a claim from the time we receive it.

Types of claim

Find out about the different types of claim.

Initial liability / liability

Under the MRCA and the DRCA, an initial liability claim can be made for a service-related injury, disease or death. One claim can include multiple conditions. Once we receive a complete claim, we will consider the evidence provided. We will use that evidence to decide whether or not to accept that the condition is service related.

Permanent impairment and incapacity

Once we have accepted that a condition is service related, we work out compensation payments based on the effects of that condition. Types of compensation that might be payable include incapacity compensation, permanent impairment under MRCA and permanent impairment under DRCA.

Permanent impairment compensation is a payment for functional loss caused by a service-related condition.

Incapacity compensation is a payment for reduced capacity for service or work caused by a service-related condition.

Disability Compensation Payment

This compensation can be claimed under the VEA. It is a fortnightly payment for the effects of injuries and diseases related to service. The Disability Compensation Payment was formerly called the disability pension.

War widow(er)’s pension

This is a fortnightly payment. It is made to the partner of a veteran where the veteran’s death was related to service or other eligibility criteria were met before the veteran died.

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Improving the administration of the claims system

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has recommended urgent action to eliminate the claims backlog and make improvements to the claims administration system. This is detailed in their Interim Report, delivered on 11 August 2022, which can be found on the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide website.

This web page provides a report on progress towards implementing the improvements to the administration of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) compensation claims system as recommended in the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (Recommendation 3).

Recommendation 3

The Australian Government should improve the administration of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) claims system by 1 July 2024. The changes pursued should aim to improve veterans’ experience of the claims system, remove complexity from the system and enhance efficiency in claims processing. To this end:

DVA, having taken account of the advice received from McKinsey & Company and other relevant sources, should advise the Australian Government about potential measures it could include within a program of work aimed at improving the administration of the claims system.

  • The Australian Government and DVA should decide upon the improvement measures to be undertaken within the program of work.
  • The Australian Government should provide DVA, and any other relevant agencies, with the resources needed to implement the agreed program of work. The allocation of these resources to DVA should not be offset by reductions in other resourcing of DVA.
  • The Australian Government should seek passage of any legislative amendments required to implement the agreed program of work.
  • DVA, and any other relevant agencies, should implement the program of work by 1 July 2024.
  • DVA should publicly report on progress towards implementing the program of work on a quarterly basis.
  • DVA should publicly report on the expected benefit of each measure included within the program of work, and, once implemented, report on the degree to which each benefit has been realised.

Australian Government Response

The Government agrees to this recommendation.

The Government recognises that some veterans and families do not have a good experience accessing support they deserve.

The Government will consider ways to improve the veterans’ experience of the claims system, remove complexity and enhance efficiency in supporting veterans and families navigating the veteran support system.

Measures to improve the claims system will be considered by Government, along with any necessary legislative amendments.

The Government notes that work is already underway in response to this recommendation, taking into account the recommendations of McKinsey & Company’s claims process diagnostic to improve the administration of the claims system.

The overall benefits of the implementation of the work program will be demonstrated in the efficiencies reported as noted in the response to Recommendation 2 above.

Status: In progress

Improvements progressed under Recommendation 3 will implement a number of the 11 priority initiatives from the diagnostic review of the DVA’s claims processing system completed by McKinsey & Company in December 2021.

As at 30 June 2023, two priority initiatives have been completed, seven are progressing and two are not being progressed. The McKinsey report also identified 12 ‘in train initiatives’ which were either being implemented by DVA or underway at the time of the McKinsey Report, and all are now complete.

DVA’s program of work for Recommendation 3 is organised into three overarching streams:

  • Efficiency improvements such as claims screening teams that will reduce times taken to process claims
  • Improvements to the claims experience such as proactive communications with clients to support the transparency of the claims process
  • Preparing for the future by undertaking discovery processes for future ICT ecosystem, including ongoing improvements to the MyService portal.

DVA is undertaking detailed planning of these projects and the benefits they are expected to provide to veterans, families and DVA staff. The immediate response to Recommendation 3 will seek to increase efficiency and transparency in claims processing by July 2024 while also preparing for the evolving needs and expectations of the future veteran community and preparing for the rapid implementation of legislative reform.

The 2023-24 Budget provided $254.1 million over four years to maintain DVA’s ICT systems and replace legacy systems that deliver payments to veterans, families and the service providers who deliver critical support and services to the veteran community. This investment builds on the $87.0 million over two years, provided in the October 2022 Budget, to improve the administration of the claims processing system and modernise DVA’s ICT environment.

Together these investments will enable DVA to work towards a modern, connected and sustainable ICT ecosystem that will support a simple, seamless and efficient veteran support system.

The Modernisation program will deliver improvements to the experience for veterans and families interacting with the claims administration system while also improving the efficiency of the claims process.

Modernising DVA’s ICT systems will help veterans and families navigate the claims process by:

  • Providing greater transparency on the status of claims and services through MyService
  • Making it simpler to lodge complete claims through MyService; and
  • Streamlining complex medical forms.

The program of work will position the department to deliver further improvements to the claims administration system over time, enabling efficiency and agility to implement legislative change called for by the Royal Commission. Ongoing business changes are progressing in support of ICT and business processes. Additional resources provided to address the claims backlog will be supported with improvements that enable reduced manual processing and help staff to process claims more efficiently.

These improvements form part of DVA’s broader approach to ensuring that the ICT ecosystem supports a simple, seamless and efficient veteran support system with the ability to adapt as the needs of veterans, families, providers and staff evolves.

To prepare for the evolving needs and expectations of the future veteran community and preparing for the rapid implementation of legislative reform DVA has commenced co-design with the veteran community about the future capabilities of MyService and the Ex-Service organisation (ESO) Portal which supports veterans, families and advocates to conduct their business with DVA.

In addition, DVA has developed a framework and process to assess the technical and business fitness of ICT applications to support DVA staff and the veteran community now and into the future. This framework is being used to inform the development of the Digital Resilience Roadmap (the Roadmap), which will set out an indicative plan for government consideration to modernise DVA’s ICT over the next 10 years. It will provide a visual representation of the strategic approach to modernise our ICT ecosystem, guiding ICT decisions over the short, medium and long term as we transition to a more flexible and digital first organisation.

When finalised, the Roadmap will be periodically reviewed and updated in response to changes to DVA’s internal or external environments

An update on all the recommendations as at 30 June 2023 is available.

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