Review of Income Support decisions

Last updated: 
17 January 2020

This page contains information about which decisions in relation to service pension or income support supplement can be reviewed, how to get a decision reviewed and your rights of review in relation to age pension administered by DVA.

I have questions about a decision on my income support claim/pension or my eligibility for veteran payment

If you do not understand a decision about your income support claim/pension or your eligibility for veteran payment, or you have questions, you may wish to speak with the person who made the original decision. The contact details of the original decision maker will be shown on the letter you have received about the decision.

Many people find this a useful first step. You can check that all the facts and relevant information have been considered and find out how and why the decision was made.

What is a request for a review?

If you think a decision is wrong, you have the right to ask for a review. A request for a review is the same as an appeal. If you request a review of a decision, you are expressing your dissatisfaction with the decision and appealing against it.

Which decisions can be reviewed?

If you are dissatisfied with a decision:

  • in relation to ‘qualifying service’;
  • in relation to a claim for a service pension or income support supplement (ISS);
  • in relation to your eligibility for veteran payment;
  • in relation to the financial hardship provisions;
  • cancelling or suspending your service pension, ISS or veteran payment;
  • terminating the suspension of your service pension, ISS or veteran payment;
  • reducing or increasing the rate of your service pension, ISS or veteran payment;
  • refusing a request for an increase in the rate of service pension, ISS or veteran payment; or
  • in relation to an advance payment of service pension or ISS;
  • in relation to a request for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC); or
  • terminating entitlements to a CSHC.

you may ask to have the decision reviewed by a Review Officer.

If you are an age pensioner, see the later section ‘What if I am dissatisfied with a decision concerning my age pension?

How do I request a review of a decision?

Your request for review must:

  • be made within 3 months of receipt of the letter about the decision;
  • be in writing (there is no special form); and
  • set out your reasons for requesting the review.

If your request for review is made outside the 3 month period, it may be treated as a new application (rather than as an application for review of a decision).

Expenses

DVA cannot reimburse you for any expenses you incur due to requesting a review except for:

  • travelling expenses in connection with travel to give evidence or produce documents as part of a review, but only when summoned to do so by a delegate of the Repatriation Commission; or
  • in cases where, as a result of the review, a claim for qualifying service, service pension, ISS or veteran payment is granted or a decision to cancel or suspend a service pension, ISS or veteran payment is set aside, the cost of documents requested from medical practitioners, hospitals or similar institutions that are reasonably used for the purposes of the review.

Withdrawing a request for review

If you decide to withdraw your request for review, it needs to be withdrawn in writing, before a decision is made. If you change your mind, you can still request a review of the original decision, as long as your request is received within the original 3 month period.

Reviewing the decision

If a request for review is made in accordance with these conditions, the decision must be reviewed. The decision of the Review Officer will be to either affirm (agree with) or set aside (disagree with) the decision under review. The Review Officer may also ask you for more information.

What if I am dissatisfied with the decision of the Review Officer?

If you are dissatisfied with the decision of a Review Officer, you have a further right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). If you decide to appeal, your appeal to the AAT must:

  • be in writing (either a letter or you can use a form available from AAT offices);
  • include a clear statement that you are appealing;
  • be lodged within 3 months of receipt of the Review Officer’s decision;
  • set out your reasons for your appeal; and
  • be accompanied by a copy of the decision you are appealing.

You may be able to lodge an appeal outside the three month period by writing to the AAT requesting an extension of time to appeal. Such requests should contain your reasons for requesting an extension of time.

What if I am dissatisfied with a decision concerning my age pension?

If you are not happy with a decision of the Department concerning your age pension, you can also request an Authorised Review Officer to take a fresh look at your case. Authorised Review Officers are examiners who have had no prior involvement in the case. They look at disputed decisions and may set asked, vary or affirm a decision.

If you are not happy with the Authorised Review Officer’s decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of that decision.

An application to the AAT for a first review of a decision by an Authorised Review Officer can be made at any time after the decision is made. However, it is best to appeal to the AAT within 13 weeks of being notified of the Authorised Review Officer’s decision. This is because back-pay may not be payable if a successful application for review is lodged more than 13 weeks after the Authorised Review Officer's decision.

Representation and costs

You can be represented by another person, including lay advocates, e.g. ex-service organisation (ESO) advocates, or by legally qualified persons. The costs of such representation would be your responsibility.

What if I am dissatisfied with the decision of the AAT?

If you are unhappy with the decision of the AAT, you can appeal on questions of law to the Federal Court of Australia and then, by special leave, to the High Court of Australia.

The Repatriation Commission can also appeal to the Federal Court and High Court if it considers that a decision made by the AAT is not in accordance with the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).