Apply for the disability pension under the VEA

Last updated: 
8 May 2020

This page briefly explains how to make a claim for a disability pensions under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), how claims are decided and how to apply for an increase in pension.

Disability pensions under the VEA are paid only in relation to injuries or illnesses which result from certain types of service rendered before 1 July 2004. Information about who is eligible is contained in Apply for the disability pension under the VEA.

For information about entitlements related to service on or after 1 July 2004, refer to Overview of the MRCA. For information about entitlements related to peacetime service before 7 April 1994 or peacetime and certain war service between 7 April 1994 and 30 June 2004, refer to Overview of the DRCA.

You may have eligibility under more than one Act. If this occurs and you claim under both Acts there may be offsetting of the payments relating to the same incapacity. For more information, see Disability pension and compensation offsetting.

What is a disability pension?

A disability pension is paid to compensate veterans for injuries or diseases caused or aggravated by war service or certain defence service rendered on behalf of Australia before 1 July 2004.

There are four categories of disability pension payable under the VEA:

  • General Rate, payable in increments of 10% up to 100%;
  • Extreme Disablement Adjustment (for over 65 years of age only);
  • Intermediate Rate; and
  • Special Rate.

The General Rate is paid solely on the basis of the degree of incapacity you suffer as a result of your accepted conditions. For more information, see General Rate

The Intermediate and Special Rates take into account your level of incapacity from war or defence service caused disabilities and the effects that this incapacity has had on your working life. The Special Rate is intended to assist severely disabled veterans who are unable to have a normal working life due to their accepted disabilities, and is the highest level of disability pension available under the VEA. The Intermediate Rate provides a level of compensation between General Rate and Special Rate. For more information, see General Rate.

Retired veterans who are 65 or over with very severe disabilities and who do not qualify for a Special Rate pension may be entitled a higher rate of disability pension known as the Extreme Disablement Adjustment. For more information, see Extreme Disablement Adjustment.

How is a claim for disability pension decided?

In order to be paid disability pension, you must first have a disability or disabilities accepted as being war-caused or defence-caused.

When you lodge a claim for a disability pension, the claims assessor will obtain evidence about your claim. This evidence may include documents about your service history, your medical history and, in some cases, your personal and employment history. Medical evidence may be sought from your doctor, or a specialist.

Claims for disability pension for most medical conditions are determined according to Statements of Principles, which are based on sound medical-scientific evidence and set out factors which must exist in order for the condition to be related to service. The claims assessor will examine available evidence to see whether the circumstances of your claim satisfy the relevant Statements of Principles. The Statements of Principles are developed by the Repatriation Medical Authority. DVA claims assessors are legally required to apply the Statements of Principles in assessing claims. For more information, see Statements of Principles (SOP).

Where there is no SOP for the disability you have claimed, the claims assessor will determine your claim by reference to the best medical evidence available.

If your claim satisfies one or more of the factors in the Statements of Principles, and those factors can be related to your service, the claims assessor will determine that your disability is war-caused or defence-caused. The claims assessor will also determine how much disability pension you will be paid if you are incapacitated as a result of your war-caused or defence-caused injury or disease.

How is disability pension assessed?

During the investigation of your claim, the claims assessor may arrange for you to be examined by a general practitioner or a specialist. The claims assessor will refer to the reports of these examinations, as well as other information on your file or that you have provided, to assess the level of disability pension to which you may be entitled.

Disability pension is assessed on the basis of the Guide to the Assessment of Rates of Veterans' Pensions (GARP V). For information on how disability pension is assessed using GARP, see Our guides to assess compensation.

How much is my disability pension likely to be?

The grounds on which these pension rates are paid are complex, but generally the greater your service related incapacity, the more pension you receive. For specific information on rates of pensions, see Disability Pension and War Widow(er)’s Pension Rates and Allowances.

When will my disability pension start?

Generally the disability pension will become payable from three months before the date a claim is received by DVA. This means that once your claim for a disability pension is granted, the pension will commence from the next pension pay day along with an arrears payment for the pension that was payable for up to three months prior to your claim being received.

We may also need to confirm information with Services Australia before we can arrange your payment.

How do I apply for a disability pension?

To claim a disability pension you need to complete DVA form D2582 and return it to DVA. When completing the form you must clearly state the reasons why you think the condition is related to your service. You must also seek your doctor's diagnosis of the condition being claimed and his/her opinion about the time of onset of the condition.

You may be asked to provide other evidence to support your claim, such as information on your employment history, details of injuries or accidents, or other personal details relating to your claim. To assist us in processing your application, it is recommended that you also complete DVA form D2670 and submit it with your application. The Lifestyle Rating form provides you with three options for the assessment of the effect of your accepted disabilities on your lifestyle.

When lodging a new claim for compensation payments under the VEA, you may also be required to provide documents to DVA that prove your identity if you have not already done so in association with an earlier claim. For further information see Proof of Identity 

You can also lodge your claim online via MyService. Applying through MyService may in some cases allow your claim to be processed more quickly.

How do I apply for an increase in my disability pension?

To apply for an increase in disability pension please fill out DVA form D2582, which is the same as the one used for claiming new disabilities. You must clearly state on the form, information about the treatment you have received for your accepted disabilities and the reason why you believe your accepted disabilities have worsened since the last assessment. Similarly to an initial disability pension claim, it is encouraged that you submit DVA form D2670 to accompany your application to support the assessment of the lifestyle effects that your accepted disabilities have impacted, and it this has worsened since your last assessment.

These forms are available from your nearest DVA office, your local ex-service organisation or through the DVA website.

Applications for increase in disability pension can also be lodged online via MyService.

What if I need help filling out the form?

If you find anything in the form difficult to understand or to complete, you are encouraged to ask for help.

You can get help with your application from DVA staff or your local ex-service organisation.

Most ex-service organisations have officers and advocates who can help you with your claim. Alternatively, you can contact DVA via one of the methods detailed below in 'More Information'.

How long does it take to consider a claim for disability pension/application for increase?

The Department aims to process claims within 75 days. However, it may take longer if you have a complex case. This processing time is required to:

  • obtain documents about your service from the Department of Defence if you have never claimed before;
  • conduct further medical examinations if necessary;
  • allow DVA to gather further information about your medical and personal history, if necessary; and
  • assess the information and make a determination in relation to your claim.

What happens when a claim/application has been decided?

Whether your claim or application for increase is successful or not, you will be given written reasons for the decision as well as information that explains the decision. You will receive the decision in writing, either by mail, email or via your MyAccount or MyService. The letter will also tell you what to do if you are not satisfied that the correct decision has been made.

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