How to prepare your case for the VRB

Last updated: 
22 January 2020

This page explains how you can prepare your VEA Entitlement or MRCA Liability case.

What types of cases are reviewed by the VRB?

Most cases under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) fall into one of two categories:

  1. An Entitlement Case – this is about whether disease, injury or death has been caused by service; or
  2. An Assessment Case – this is about how much pension should be paid for incapacity from injury or disease that has already been accepted as caused by service (for more information, see Understanding VEA Assessment Cases).

Most cases under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) fall into one of three categories:

  1. A Liability Case – this is about whether disease, injury or death has been caused by service
  2. A Compensation Case – this is about how much compensation should be paid for incapacity from injury or disease that has already been accepted as caused by service; or
  3. A Rehabilitation Case – this is about rehabilitation benefits available in connection with an injury or disease that has already been accepted as caused by service.

What does the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) have to do?

In an Entitlement or Liability case, the VRB has to determine the kind of injury, disease or death claimed and the cause (or possible causes) of that injury, disease or death. It then has to decide whether a cause can be related to service. The causes of some medical conditions are well known. In other cases, medical experts are only able to suggest possible causes and they may have differing opinions. The causes of some conditions are not known at all. In most cases, the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) will have issued binding Statements of Principles (SOPs) determining the medical causation issues that concern your claim. You should understand that the SOPs issued by the RMA are binding on the Repatriation Commission, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, the VRB and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In other words, the VRB must follow them and cannot adopt other medical opinion on causation, however eminent the specialist.

You can obtain copies of relevant SOPs by visiting the SOPs page of the RMA website or by contacting DVA or the VRB using the details are listed under More Information.

What can I do to prepare?

You should be prepared to explain at your hearing why you believe the conditions of service may have caused the injuries, disease or death being claimed. The following may help in preparing for your hearing:

  • SOPs related to your claim
  • Discuss your medical evidence with your General Practitioner or treating specialist (it will help if you show them your Departmental Report and the SOPs)
  • Written notes about reasons you think conditions or events on service may have caused injury, disease or death
  • Other people who might be able to give evidence to support your case or about accidents or illnesses that are not recorded in service documents. These people may be able to come to your hearing. If they are not able to attend, they may be able to give you a written statement or be available to speak to the Members by phone during the hearing.

What are Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures?

ADR is a term which describes “alternative” process which can help parties to finalise a case. There is no need for a VRB hearing, so related expenses and time of a hearing can be avoided. Involvement in an ADR process does not mean that the parties forgo their right to a hearing if the application is not finalised.

The VRB’s General Practice Direction sets out the procedure for ADR program cases and non-ADR program cases. In ADR program cases the first step is one mandatory outreach. If an application is not finalised at the first outreach, the next possible ADR step and the requirements for a hearing will be discussed. In non-ADR program cases limited ADR in the form of case appraisals and neutral evaluation is available to all applicants. If an application is not finalised by an ADR process it will be listed for hearing.

The General Practice Direction is available from the Publications page of the VRB website.

What should I bring to my hearing?

You should bring your copy of the Departmental Report that was sent to you by DVA after you lodged your application for review. You should also bring any other papers that may support your case, for example, doctors’ reports, service records, diaries. However, it is important that you send copies to the VRB as early as possible before your hearing and at the latest, when your Certificate of Readiness is lodged. If your representative has these documents, you should make sure that they have sent copies to the VRB.

What happens if my case is successful?

If the VRB accepts that your injury or disease has been caused by service under the VEA, it may ask the Repatriation Commission to assess the rate of your disability pension. Alternatively, the VRB may proceed to immediately assess your disability pension itself.

If the VRB accepts liability for an injury or disease under MRCA, it may ask the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission to carry out a needs assessment in respect of any eligibility for compensation or further benefits.

More Information

Veterans’ Review Board

Metro Phone: 1300 550 460 *

Regional Phone: 1800 550 460 *

VRB Email: contact [at] vrb.gov.au

VRB Website: www.vrb.gov.au

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.