Your relationship status

Last updated: 
17 January 2020

This page explains how relationship status can affect service pension, income support supplement (ISS) and veteran payment.

What is meant by relationship status?

Relationship status refers to whether you are single or partnered (married, or living in a de facto relationship). Your income support entitlement and rate of payment may differ depending on your relationship status.

Why does DVA need to know about my relationship status?

Your relationship status affects the rate of service pension, age pension, ISS or veteran payment you receive. There are two rates of service pension, age pension and veteran payment, the singles rate and the couples rate. The rate paid for each member of a couple is less than the rate paid to a single person because couples can share some household costs.

Whether you are single or partnered also affects how your income support pension or payment is calculated under the income and assets test.

Your eligibility for partner service pension or veteran payment as the partner, widow, or widower of a veteran, is also affected by your relationship status. See the sections entitled ‘How does relationship status affect Partner Service Pension eligibility’ and 'How does relationship status effect veteran payment'.

Single people

You are considered to be a single person and therefore eligible for payment at the singles rate if:

  • you are not married and not living in a de facto relationship;
  • you are married but living separately and apart from your spouse (including “marital separation under the same roof” – see next dot point);
  • you are living at the same address as your partner but can demonstrate that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship and provide an explanation of why you are continuing to live at the same address;
  • you are divorced; or
  • your partner has died and you have not re-married or commenced a de facto relationship.

Partnered people

You will be paid at the couples rate if you are legally married and living with your spouse or you are in a de facto relationship.

You can be partnered and be paid at the singles rate if you and your partner have to live separately because one or both of you is too frail or ill (including mental illness) to stay at home, and the separation is likely to be indefinite.

*Note: - You will be regarded as a member of a couple if you usually live with your partner. However, if there are circumstances that are unusual and outside your control which result in your inability to pool resources with your partner, causing financial difficulty, you may request not to be treated as a member of a couple. DVA will give full consideration of all the circumstances relevant to your case to determine whether there is a special reason that would make it unjust or unreasonable to determine your entitlements as a member of a couple.

De facto relationship

A de facto relationship is where two people who are not married are living together (or usually live together) and are members of a couple. A de facto relationship can be between people of the same-sex or opposite-sex.

You are considered to be a de facto partner if your relationship is registered under certain prescribed State and Territory laws that provide for registration of relationships. If your relationship is not registered, some of the factors we consider when we decide whether two people are living in a de facto relationship are whether you:

  • think of yourselves as a couple;
  • share financial and household responsibilities;
  • undertake joint social and leisure activities; and
  • appear as a couple to the general community.

Evidence relating to these factors is considered, although not all factors need to be present for a decision to be made that you are in a de facto relationship.

If you have a de facto relationship and live with your partner, you will be paid at the couples rate.

You can be paid at the singles rate if you remain a member of a couple but have to live separately from your de facto partner because one or both of you is too frail or ill to stay at home, and the separation is likely to be indefinite.

How does relationship status affect Partner Service Pension eligibility?

Eligibility criteria for partner service pension are outlined in Partner Service Pension

You will lose your eligibility for partner service pension if:

  • you have separated from the veteran to whom you were partnered and you enter into a de facto relationship with, or marry, another person who is not a veteran;
  • you have been separated for more than 12 months from the veteran to whom you were partnered (unless you have reached age pension age or special domestic circumstances apply); or
  • you are a widow or widower of a veteran (but not a war widow or war widower) and you re-marry or enter a de facto relationship with a person who is not a veteran.

In these circumstances you should apply to Centrelink for a benefit.

Does relationship status affect the income support supplement?

If you receive the income support supplement (ISS) and:

  • you re-marry; or
  • you enter a de facto relationship;

You remain eligible for payment of ISS, but your payment will be at the partnered rate and may be affected by your new partner’s income and assets.

How does relationship status affect Veteran Payment?

Eligibility criteria for veteran payment as the partner of a veteran are outlined in Veteran Payment Overview.

You will lose your eligibility for veteran payment if you separate from your partner.

You can be paid at the singles rate if you remain a member of a couple but have to live separately from your de facto partner because one or both of you is too ill to stay at home, and the separation is likely to be indefinite.

Obligations

When you are granted an income support pension or payment, and periodically after that, you will be notified of you obligations. You will be required to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) of changes to your circumstances that might affect the rate of income support pension or payment you receive, or your eligibility to receive that pension or payment. These obligations apply equally to trustees.

In relation to your relationship status, the sorts of things you would need to tell us within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) are if:

  • you marry or re-marry;
  • you enter a de facto or registered relationship;
  • you separate from your partner either because of illness or other reasons;
  • you and your partner re-unite;
  • you and your partner divorce;
  • your partner dies;
  • the person for whom you are a trustee or carer dies; or
  • you plan to travel overseas for any period.

Usually an overpayment of pension or payment will not occur when you have met your obligations. However, sometimes even if you have met your obligations, an overpayment can occur because we have not been able to process the change before the next payday. We do our best to avoid this occurring, but it is not always possible. To provide you with your exact entitlement we are obliged to recover overpayments of pension or payment where they do occur.