What is the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Last updated: 
20 January 2020

This page contains information about appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) on decisions on disability pensions and allowances under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), decisions under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), and decisions under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

What is the AAT?

The AAT is an independent review body with power to review all decisions of the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) as well as decisions made by delegates of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) under DRCA and MRCA.

The AAT can also review certain Repatriation Commission decisions relating to service pension specific veterans’ allowances.

What is the scope of AAT review?

The AAT conducts a 'de novo' review on the merits of the case. This involves a reconsideration of all evidence and all issues of fact and law. The AAT is not limited by reasons given in the decision under review. Further investigations may be undertaken (if appropriate) and additional evidence may be obtained and considered.

Which decisions can the AAT review?

Under the VEA, the AAT can review any decisions of the VRB, and certain decisions of the Repatriation Commission that relate to service pension and specified allowances, provided the decision has been first reviewed by the Commission.

Under the DRCA, the AAT can review a decision of the MRCC, provided a request for reconsideration of that decision has been made and the MRCC has advised in writing of the outcome of the reconsideration.

Under the MRCA, the AAT can review any decision of the VRB and it can also review an initial reconsideration decision by the MRCC.

How do I apply to the AAT?

You can write a letter to the AAT or fill out a form available at AAT offices. You must include:

  • the name of the decision maker;
  • whether the decision was made by the Repatriation Commission, the MRCC or the VRB;
  • the date of the decision;
  • brief reasons why you think the decision is wrong; and
  • a copy of the decision.

For more information about how to apply, please refer to the AAT website at www.aat.gov.au/applying-for-a-review/how-to-apply

What are the time limits?

For VEA claims you must apply within three months of receipt of the decision you are appealing against. This will preserve the benefit of maximum possible payment. At the discretion of the AAT, appeals may be accepted up to 12months after receipt of the decision. If accepted, backdating of benefits will be affected.

For DRCA claims, you must apply within 60 days of receiving written advice from DVA of the outcome of your request for reconsideration.

For MRCA claims, an application to the AAT for review of a VRB decision must be lodged in writing with the AAT within three months of the day you receive the VRB’s decision. An application to the AAT for a review of a MRCC reconsideration must be lodged in writing with the AAT no more than 60 days after the date you receive the reconsideration decision.

If you apply for review outside the timeframes listed above you need to ask for an extension of time and explain the delay. For VEA, DRCA and MRCA cases any applications outside stipulated time frames will involve extension of time requests and the AAT will normally send the Respondent a notice asking if there is any opposition.

As under the VEA, appeals from VRB decisions under the MRCA may be accepted up to 12 months after the receipt of the decision.

For more information about the time limits, please refer to the AAT website at www.aat.gov.au/applying-for-a-review/time-limits.

What fees must I pay?

No fees apply to requests for review by the AAT of decisions under the VEA, DRCA and MRCA.

Am I entitled to legal aid for my application to the AAT?

Legal aid may be available at the AAT for a review of a decision by the VRB.

Legal aid commissions are independent bodies established under state and territory legislation. Commissions determine eligibility for their legal services and the extent of assistance they will provide in individual cases.

Legal aid applications by DVA clients are exempt from means testing but are subject to a merits test.

In addition to representation in the AAT, legal aid commissions may also provide advice and/or legal task assistance for people preparing an application to the VRB, including any alternative dispute resolution processes. However, a lawyer is not able to appear before a VRB hearing.

More information about legal aid commissions and the types of services they provide can be found on each commission’s website (centrally located at www.nationallegalaid.org).

Financial assistance for people appearing before the AAT may be provided by the Attorney-General’s Department at www.ag.gov.au. Further information about this, including eligibility criteria, can be found in the Legal Financial Assistance Information Sheet.