Pension for orphans and war widow(er)s

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This page provides a description of war widow(er)’s pension and orphan’s pension available under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), who can claim, and how to make a claim.

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What are war widow(er)’s pension and orphan’s pension?

These are pensions that are paid under the VEA to compensate widowed partners and dependent children of veterans who have died as a result of war service or eligible defence service. War widow(er)’s pension and orphan’s pension are not affected by other income, except from other compensation payments.

For information on the current rates of war widow(er)’s pension and orphan’s pension payable under the VEA, see Disability Pension and War Widow(er)’s Pension Rates and Allowances.

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Who can make a claim?

The following people can claim this pension:

  • a widow or widower – a person who was legally married to, or was in a de facto relationship with, an Australian veteran immediately before the veteran’s death and has not since remarried, married or entered into a de facto relationship with another person;
  • a dependent child – the natural or adopted child of a veteran, or a child who was wholly or substantially dependent on the veteran. The child must be under 16 years, or under 25 years and still undertaking full-time studies. Orphan’s pension may not be payable if the child is aged 16 years or over and is in receipt of Commonwealth educational assistance through Youth Allowance; Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme; ABSTUDY; Post-Graduate Awards Scheme; or the Veteran’s Children Education Scheme.
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When are they automatically paid?

A pension will be granted to a dependant automatically, without the need for further investigation, if the veteran was:

  • an ex-prisoner of war, or
  • receiving the Extreme Disablement Adjustment, or
  • receiving a disability pension at the Special Rate (including a veteran who was in receipt of a Special Rate disability pension for blindness in both eyes), or
  • receiving a disability pension at the Intermediate Rate, or
  • receiving a disability pension at the Temporary Special Rate, or
  • receiving a disability pension at an increased rate for a condition specified in any of items 1 to 8 of subsection 27(1) of the VEA (these items relate to double amputees who may also be blind in one eye).
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When are they not automatically paid?

In all other cases a claim needs to be lodged with the Department before any pension is granted.

A pension will be paid to an eligible widowed partner or dependent child once the veteran's death is determined to have been caused by war or eligible defence service.

Individuals who lodge a claim for the war widow(er)’s pension within six months of the death of the veteran and are deemed eligible, have their pension backdated to the day after the date of death of the veteran. If the claim is lodged more than six months after the death of the veteran, the pension is backdated three months.

When a veteran passes away their Veteran Gold Card is not transferred to the surviving partner or any other dependant. Partners and other dependants who are eligible to receive the Veteran Gold Card are issued with one in their own right.

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How do I claim?

Unless the war widow(er)'s pension and/or orphan's pension is automatically payable, you need to complete DVA Form D2663 and return it to DVA.

DVA Forms can be obtained from your nearest DVA office or from the DVA website.

When completing the form you must state the reason you think the veteran’s death was related to service. You should provide as much information as you can about the doctors and hospitals that treated the veteran. You should also provide a copy of the veteran’s death certificate if you have it.

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What if I need help filling out the form?

Preparing a claim for war widow(er)’s pension or orphan’s pension can be complex, so we strongly encourage you to seek assistance.

Ask your ex-service organisation, as most have pensions officers or advocates who can help you with the claim. Alternatively, you can contact DVA for assistance.

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How are claims for war widow(er)’s pension or orphan’s pension decided?

When you lodge a claim for a war widow(er)’s pension or orphan’s pension, the delegate of the Repatriation Commission will obtain evidence about your claim. The evidence includes documents of the veteran’s service history, medical history and, in some cases, personal history.

The delegate of the Repatriation Commission will examine this evidence to see whether the circumstances of the veteran’s case satisfy the relevant Statements of Principles (SOP). Where there is no SOP for the condition that caused the veteran’s death, the delegate will determine your claim by reference to the best medical evidence available.

If the claim satisfies one or more of the factors in the Statements of Principles, and those factors can be related to the veteran’s service, the delegate will determine that the veteran’s death was war or defence-caused.

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How long does it take to consider a claim?

Claim processing can take up to two months or longer depending on the complexity of the case, particularly where there is a requirement to obtain coroner’s notes or hospital and/or nursing home records.

This processing time is required to:

  • obtain copies of service documents if the veteran had not previously claimed a benefit;
  • obtain information from the veteran’s doctor about the conditions being treated prior to death; and
  • ask you, or your representative, for information about the veteran’s personal history, if it is relevant to the claim.
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How will I be told of the decision on my claim?

The delegate of the Repatriation Commission will write to you to tell you what the decision is on your claim. In the letter, the delegate will explain how he or she reached the decision. The letter will also tell you what to do if you are not satisfied that the correct decision has been made on your claim.

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Are these pensions taxed?

War widow(er)’s pension and orphan’s pension are not taxed. There is no need to declare them as income in your tax return.

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What happens to the pension if I remarry or enter into a de facto relationship?

If a person who is receiving a war widow(er)’s pension re-marries or enters a de facto relationship in the future, the pension will not be affected.

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What other benefits and services are available?

Recipients of war widow(er)’s pension and orphan’s pension are issued with a Veteran Gold Card. This card entitles the holder to a range of health care for all conditions within Australia.

War widows and war widowers may be entitled to income support supplement, an income and assets tested pension that provides additional regular income.

War widows and war widowers may also be entitled to receive Energy Supplement.

War widows and war widowers may also be entitled to concessions on the costs of public and private transport services and public utilities. Contact the office of the service provider to enquire about entitlement to concessions.

Dependent children of veterans whose death has been accepted as war-caused may be entitled to a range of benefits, including financial assistance and counselling from the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme.

A funeral benefit may be payable to assist with the cost of the funeral of a veteran whose death has been accepted as war-caused.

A veteran whose death has been accepted as being war-caused is entitled to official commemoration.

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