Claims for reservists

Last updated: 
15 January 2020

This page explains when members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Reserves are covered for rehabilitation, treatment and compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA). It also explains the types of benefits that are available where a reservist is injured, contracts a disease or dies as a result of Reserve service on or after 1 July 2004.

Where an injury, disease or death relates to service before 1 July 2004, rehabilitation, compensation and treatment can be obtained under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).

In addition, certain reservists are covered under Non-Liability Health Care arrangements whereby the condition does not need to be linked to service.

When are reservists covered under the MRCA?

All members of the ADF Army, Navy and Air Force Reserves with service on or after 1 July 2004 are covered under the MRCA, whether they are on part-time service or continuous full-time service (CFTS).

They are covered for injury, disease or death arising out of that service. This includes injury, disease or death:

  • sustained while travelling between a member’s place of residence and place of employment, including Reserve parades, camps, etc.;
  • to which Reserve service on or after 1 July 2004 has made a material contribution; or
  • that was aggravated by Reserve service.

What types of benefits are available if I suffer injury or disease as a result of Reserve service?

The MRCA provides a range of benefits, depending on your particular circumstances and needs. 

A needs assessment will be conducted following DVA’s acceptance for liability of your claim, so that the benefits to which you are entitled are provided.

What types of compensation are available if a reservist dies?

Compensation for dependants may be provided in the event of a reservist’s death where:

  • the death is accepted as related to service on or after 1 July 2004;
  • the reservist was entitled to the Special Rate Disability Pension under the MRCA at some point before his or her death; or
  • the reservist was entitled to the maximum rate of permanent impairment compensation immediately before his or her death.

Regardless of the circumstances of the reservist’s death, bereavement payments may also be available to some dependants. Assistance with funeral costs may also be provided.

Are there any differences between the benefits available to reservists and those available to permanent force members?

All ADF members can receive the same range of benefits, irrespective of the type of service. The only difference relates to the calculation of incapacity payments for reservists. This is to ensure that reservists receive incapacity payments that reflect fairly the earnings they have lost.

Incapacity payments are provided as compensation for loss of salary due to an incapacity for work or service because of accepted injury or disease. Incapacity payments normally cease at Age Pension age, but for a person within two years of turning Age Pension age when the injury or disease occurred, they can be paid for a maximum of 104 weeks.

Incapacity payments for all ADF members are based on the difference between the person’s normal earnings (NE) before the injury or disease occurred and his or her actual earnings. NE is defined differently according to the circumstances of the member.

For a reservist NE is based on:

  • a choice of either their full time ADF wage, or their full time civilian income and their part-time Reserve income — if the reservist was rendering continuous full-time service (CFTS) at the time of the injury or contraction of the disease; or
  • a combination of their civilian income and their part-time Reserve income — if the reservist was injured or contracted the disease whilst performing part time service.

Where the full-time ADF wage is taken into consideration and the person has discharged, a remuneration loading is added to NE to compensate for the non-salary benefits enjoyed by serving CFTS reservists.

Actual earnings are calculated against the amount the person actually earns from “suitable work”. This means work the person is doing or able to do having regard to age, experience, training, qualifications and other skills. If a person fails to take up or continue a reasonable offer of suitable work, their actual earnings will be what they are deemed able to earn from suitable work.

What if I need to see a doctor or obtain some other type of medical treatment?

The ADF provides medical treatment for all permanent force members and CFTS reservists. If you are injured or suffer a disease during a period of CFTS, the ADF will provide you with any necessary medical treatment you may require until you cease CFTS.

The ADF provides limited treatment for part-time reservists who need medical attention whilst performing their Reserve service. This treatment is provided until they return home from Reserve duty and can access their regular medical practitioner or, until it is possible for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to take over management of their claim. Further details on the Department of Defence policy on health care of ADF personnel can be found in Defence Instruction (General) PERS 16-1. Before DVA can assist, it is necessary to lodge a claim for acceptance of liability for the injury or disease under the MRCA and for DVA to accept liability for that injury or disease. Once liability for the injury or disease is accepted, DVA can reimburse for the cost of medical treatment reasonably obtained for that injury or disease, back to the date the injury or disease occurred.

Current and former reservists with CFTS are eligible to receive DVA-funded mental health treatment for any mental health condition under Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) arrangements. In addition, from 1st July 2018, reservists without CFTS are eligible to receive mental health treatment for any mental health condition under NLHC if they rendered Reserve Service Days with:

  • Disaster Relief Service (e.g., Operation Vic Fire Assist);
  • Border Protection Service (e.g., Operations RESOLUTE) or
  • involvement in a serious service-related training accident.

No diagnosis is required to receive treatment for mental health conditions and the condition does not need to be linked to service. Reservists with at least one day of CFTS may automatically receive a Veteran White Card for NLHC upon transitioning from the ADF.

Reservists who meet the eligibility criteria who do not automatically receive a White Card can apply for NLHC by:

  • going to the DVA website online claim
  • submitting a request in writing, including via email to NLHC [at] dva.gov.au