Faster access to incapacity payments

Last updated: 
17 January 2020

This page provides information about accessing incapacity payments when you find it difficult to remain in employment due to a mental health condition accepted under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).

What is streamlined access to incapacity payments?

Streamlined access to incapacity payments enables veterans with mental health conditions accepted under the MRCA and the DRCA to be provided with incapacity payments as quickly as possible should they need to reduce their employment hours or be unable to continue to work due to their mental health conditions.

Incapacity benefits are payments for economic loss due to the inability (or reduced ability) to work because of an injury or disease that has been accepted as service related under the MRCA or DRCA. Generally once you find employment, any incapacity payments you receive will cease or be reduced.

Veterans with accepted mental health conditions may sometimes need to reduce their hours of work, or may be unable to continue to work for periods of time if their symptoms are episodic or acute. When this situation arises, you may be required to lodge a claim to have your incapacity payments reinstated.

Streamlined access to incapacity payments removes the need to lodge a claim to have your incapacity payments reinstated if you need to reduce your hours of work or stop working. This gives you an opportunity to start work, knowing that there is a safety net in place if you need to reduce your work hours or cease employment.

By continuing your participation in rehabilitation for up to 12 months after commencing employment, incapacity payments can be re-instated without additional onerous paperwork to ensure your income can be maintained. In addition, your rehabilitation provider will be able to support and work with you to address barriers to your employment. This will enable a smoother transition in and out of work when there is an increase in the symptoms of your mental health condition/s.

Who can access this support?

You may benefit from streamlined access to incapacity payments if:

  • you are in receipt of incapacity payments, or were eligible for incapacity payments, when you commenced work;
  • your MRCA or DRCA accepted mental health condition(s) is/are impacting on your ability to remain in your current work arrangements; and
  • you have been participating in a rehabilitation plan which has a vocational (return to work) focus.

More information about DVA’s rehabilitation program can be found in Rehabilitation under MRCA and DRCA

How will I be considered for streamlined access to incapacity payments?

As a participant in a rehabilitation program, you and your rehabilitation provider will have:

  • discussed the plan for your return to work;
  • identified the support you need to achieve your rehabilitation goals, including your return to work; and
  • identified how to address any barriers to you achieving these goals.

Challenges you may anticipate in returning to, or maintaining employment, due to your accepted mental health condition will have been identified during this process.

You, your rehabilitation provider or DVA rehabilitation delegate may suggest accessing this support.

If you qualify, your rehabilitation plan will be extended (up to 12 months) when you commence work to enable ongoing support from the rehabilitation provider.

How do I access this support?

Your rehabilitation provider and DVA rehabilitation delegate will discuss if this support may be of benefit to you. They will advise you if you can access streamlined access to incapacity payments, if you return to work. Your rehabilitation delegate will also liaise with your incapacity claims manager to make sure that you can access incapacity payments quickly, should you need to.

How will the extension of rehabilitation support be provided?

Your rehabilitation provider will make contact with you on a regular basis after you return to work to make sure that things are going well with your employment.

Your rehabilitation provider will be available to work with you and your employer to help resolve any difficulties in your workplace, or with you fulfilling your work role. You will be expected to let them know as soon as possible if you begin to experience difficulties in your workplace, or with your ability to attend work, because of your mental health conditions.

If you need to reduce your hours or cease your employment, your rehabilitation provider will contact DVA and let them know, so that your incapacity payments can re-commence.

It is important that:

  • your treating health professionals are aware of any changes to your mental health symptoms; to enable access to appropriate clinical support to help you get better as soon as possible; and
  • you get a medical certificate when you visit your GP or specialist, so that DVA can make sure that you receive your incapacity payments as quickly as possible.

DVA will also need your payslips, to ensure that you will receive the correct incapacity payments when they re-commence. If you are unable to organise this documentation from your employer yourself, discuss this with your rehabilitation provider, so that they can liaise with them to provide the documents to DVA.