Eligibility during and after the Second World War

Last updated: 
16 January 2020

This page provides a brief overview of who is eligible for disability pension entitlements under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) for service during the Second World War, and conflicts and operational deployments since the Second World War. This information will help you determine whether you may have an entitlement to claim disability pension as a result of your war service.

Who is eligible?

  • Second World War veterans who were:
    • members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who served during the period 3 September 1939 to 2 January 1949 (with coverage extending up to 1 July 1951 in some limited circumstances); or
    • Australian merchant mariners who were employed on ships during the period 3 September 1939 to 29 October 1945.
  • Members of the ADF who served in operations and conflicts following the end of the Second World War and up to 1 July 2004 (e.g. in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan).

Members of allied or other Commonwealth defence forces, as well as allied merchant mariners, are in most cases not eligible for disability compensation. However, they may qualify if they were domiciled in Australia immediately before enlisting in those forces.

What is operational service?

Operational service is a classification which gives rise to a more generous standard of proof in assessing claims for disabilities suffered while on such service. Operational service includes:

  • service outside Australia during the Second World War;
  • service in parts of Northern Australia, and service within Australia but in combat against the enemy, during the Second World War;
  • service within Australia during the Second World War which was rendered before or after a period of service on operations overseas or certain service in the Northern Territory;
  • continuous full-time service in post-Second World War conflicts, where the member was assigned or allotted for duty in an operational area as required by the VEA;
  • certain other service specified in the VEA; or
  • service in a post-Second World War deployment prior to 1 July 2004 which has been declared to be non-warlike or warlike service by the Minister for Defence.

What is eligible war service?

Eligible war service is a classification that applies to most service wholly within Australia during the Second World War, including by ADF members and mariners. Eligibility for a disability pension is exactly the same as for operational service, but claims are assessed according to the normal civil standard of proof. That is, the claim must show that it was more probable than not that a disability was suffered due to war service.

Veterans who served wholly within Australia during the Second World War and saw isolated incidents of combat in the course of that service generally have operational service only for the days on which that combat took place. The rest of their service is regarded as eligible war service.

What does 'allotment' or 'assignment' for duty mean?

Allotment for duty for the purposes of the VEA is a formal process administered by the Department of Defence. It is written confirmation by the ADF that an ADF member has service in a particular area for a specified period. It can be on an individual basis or as a member of a unit that is allotted. Allotment for duty is not the same as the normal ADF practice of posting units or individuals to different locations. A person can be considered to be allotted for duty only if they or their unit have been listed in an instrument of Allotment issued by the Department of Defence.

Similarly, a person will normally be considered to have rendered warlike or non-warlike service only where the person's unit (or the person as an individual) has been assigned for duty to a relevant operation by the ADF. A person's assignment to an operation is recorded in their individual service record.

Are there other categories of eligible veterans who could be covered?

Because of the wide range of circumstances that can arise during times of conflict, certain other people may have eligibility under the VEA for their service dureing wars, conflicts and operational deployments. If you believe you may be entitled to claim disability pension under the VEA, you should contact us.

I think I might be entitled to claim disability pension under the VEA. Where can I find more information?

You can find information about how to claim a disability pension under the VEA in Apply for the disability pension under the VEA.