Income Support Supplement

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This page explains what Income Support Supplement (ISS) is, what the eligibility criteria are, and how to make a claim when required.

The rates on this page are effective from 1 July 2024.

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What is Income Support Supplement (ISS)?

ISS is an income support pension paid to:

ISS can only be paid to Australian war widow(er)s and wholly dependent partners. If you are the partner of a war widow(er) or wholly dependent partner, you are not eligible for ISS, unless you are yourself a war widow(er) or wholly dependent partner.

ISS is a means-tested pension, subject to the income and an assets tests.

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What does Australian War Widow(er) mean?

Under the VEA an Australian war widow(er) is a person whose partner was either:

  • a member of the Australian Defence Forces whose death is the result of an injury or disease that has been accepted as being war or defence-caused under the VEA or that has been accepted under the MRCA
  • an ex-prisoner of war
  • receiving a Disability Compensation Payment at the Special Rate
  • receiving the Extreme Disablement Adjustment
  • receiving the Intermediate Rate
  • receiving a Disability Compensation Payment at an increased rate due to being a double amputee
  • at some point in their life, eligible for the Special Rate Disability Pension under the MRCA
  • assessed at 80 or more impairment points under the MRCA.
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War Widow(er)'s Pension from another country

If you are eligible for an Australian War Widow(er)'s Pension but receive a War Widow(er)'s Pension from another country, you may still be eligible for ISS.

ISS is not payable however, if you are the recipient of a War Widow(er)'s Pension paid by a country other than Australia and you do not have eligibility for an Australian War Widow(er)'s Pension.

In this instance, you should contact your nearest Services Australia office to find out whether you are eligible for an income support payment under social security law.

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Automatic grant of ISS

If you are granted War Widow(er)’s Pension under the VEA or receive compensation as a wholly dependant partner under MRCA, and you had been receiving a Service Pension or a Social Security Age Pension paid by DVA, that means-tested payment will be cancelled and you will automatically be granted ISS, providing you satisfy the income and assets tests.

If you are automatically granted ISS, your assessment under the income and assets tests will be based on details already held by DVA. You will be advised of the income and assets used in calculating the amount of your ISS. If your income and assets differ from those advised, you should notify DVA of the correct details.

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What if I do not qualify for an automatic grant of ISS?

You will need to put in a claim for ISS if one of the following apply:

  • you are granted a War Widow(er)’s Pension or start to receive compensation as a wholly dependent partner under MRCA but had not been receiving a Service Pension Partner
  • you have previously been granted a War Widow(er)’s Pension but are receiving a ceiling rate Social Security Age Pension from Centrelink
  • you have previously been granted a War Widow(er)’s Pension or start to receive compensation as a wholly dependent partner under MRCA but are not receiving any income support pension.

If you are receiving a ceiling rate Social Security Age Pension from Centrelink it is to your advantage to transfer to ISS payment from DVA. The ISS ceiling rate is indexed twice yearly, whereas the equivalent income support payment from Centrelink is a frozen rate and will not increase.

You will have to give details of your income and assets, and you may have to provide evidence of your identity.

If you are claiming because you are permanently incapacitated for work you will need to provide evidence from your doctor.

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Who can claim ISS?

To make a proper claim for ISS you must be both of the following:

  • an Australian resident
  • in Australia at the time of lodging your claim.

If you are outside Australia at the time of the claim, you will only be eligible for ISS where you:

  • are receiving a Service Pension or Social Security Age Pension
  • would be eligible for ISS if that pension were cancelled.
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How do I claim ISS?

If you are not automatically granted ISS and wish to make a claim, there are 2 ways of claiming ISS. You can apply online via MyService or submit a hard copy application by either:

The booklet D0529B About Claiming Income Support Supplement provides further information about claiming ISS.

You may be required to provide copies of documentation to support your application. For instance, you may be asked to provide copies of investment certificates, pay slips, rate notices, or tax returns. Each form will state the documents needed.

By completing all forms relating to your circumstances, and providing copies of the necessary documents, you will help to reduce the time it takes to process your application.

Completed claim forms, as well as any supporting documentation, should be lodged with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) within 3 months of the original request for forms. This will ensure that any pension payable can be granted from the earliest possible date. If your claim forms are not received within this 3 month period, the earliest date of grant may be the date the completed forms are received.

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ISS Invalidity

There is no age requirement for ISS, however your age may be relevant for some income and assets rules and for taxation purposes. If your pension is taxable, you will receive a payment summary from DVA at the end of each financial year.

ISS may be granted on the basis of invalidity if you are permanently incapacitated for work. ISS Invalidity paid to a person who is under Social Security Age Pension age is non-taxable income.

To be considered permanently incapacitated, you must either be permanently blind in both eyes (even if working) or have a physical, intellectual or psychiatric disability and:

  • the disability(ies), assessed under the Impairment Tables in Schedule 1B of the Social Security Act 1991, are assessed at 20 points or more
  • you are unable to work for at least 30 hours per week
  • the disability(ies) alone prevents you from working for the next 2 years.

Social Security Age Pension age increased by 6 months every 2 years until it reached 67 on 1 July 2023 as per the table below:

Male and Female Non-Veterans
If your date of birth is on or between:Then your pension age is:
Before 1 July 195265 years
1 July 1952 to 31 December 195365 years and 6 months
1 January 1954 to 30 June 195566 years
1 July 1955 to 31 December 195666 years and 6 months
On or after 1 January 195767 years

For more on the taxation status of allowances payable with the ISS, refer to When you pay taxes on your payments

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ISS and Social Security Age Pension

You cannot receive ISS as well as a Service Pension, Social Security Age Pension or any other social security pension or benefit. You can, however, receive the Family Tax Benefit and/or Child Care Benefit from Services Australia if you are eligible.

ISS was introduced in order to enable Australian war widows and widowers to receive all their payments from DVA. Social security pensions and allowances are not payable to Australian War Widow(er)s or Wholly Dependent Partners Payment recipients.

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Rate of ISS

The maximum amount of ISS payable to both singles and members of a couple is currently $337.40 per fortnight (the ceiling rate). The ceiling rate of ISS is indexed in March and September each year.

If your War Widow(er)'s Pension is reduced because of a compensation payment, the ceiling rate of ISS may be increased.

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When is ISS payable

Even if you meet the eligibility criteria, ISS may not be payable because of your income and assets. Recipients who are considered blind, are exempt from the ISS income and assets tests.

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Income and assets tests

How much you receive will depend on:

If you are permanently blind, you can receive the maximum rate of ISS regardless of your income and assets. However, it should be noted that if you are in a residential aged care facility your income will be considered when working out the fees that you pay.

When working out your rate of ISS, your War Widow(er)'s Pension or Wholly Dependent Partner Payment is counted as income. If you receive any disability pensions paid by other governments, they are also counted as income for ISS purposes. If you are a member of a couple and your partner receives a War Widow(er)'s Pension, Wholly Dependent Partner Payment or a disability pension from another government, then those pension(s) are also counted as income for ISS purposes.

If you or your partner have received the Wholly Dependent Partner's Payment as a lump sum or partial lump sum, the weekly equivalent of that lump sum is counted as income for ISS purposes.

From 1 January 2023, if your payments are reduced to nil due to income, including some level of employment income, your payments will be suspended for 2 years, instead of cancelled, providing a streamlined return to payment if your income again falls below the threshold. You won’t have to submit a full application to have your payments reinstated.
 

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Effect of DVA Disability Compensation Payment on ISS rent assistance

Neither the DVA Disability Compensation Payment nor a permanent impairment payment made under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) or the MRCA is included in the assessment of your ISS. However, if you or your partner receive a permanent impairment payment, it may affect the amount of any rent assistance payable.

For more information on rent assistance, refer to Rent Assistance.

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What if I have too much income or too many assets?

If you have a high level of income or assets that prevents you from receiving ISS under either the income or the assets test, you may be able to receive assistance through:

If your assets exceed the ISS cut-off limit, but your adjusted taxable income is within the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test limits and you are of qualifying age, you may be eligible for the CSHC.

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Can I apply for an increase in my ISS?

Yes. If you receive ISS at a reduced rate you may apply for an increase in your rate of pension any time there is a change in your circumstances. You can do this by contacting DVA.

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What if I need help filling out my forms?

If you need help filling out your application form, you can visit DVA for assistance.

Alternatively, ex-service organisations such as Legacy or the Australian War Widows Inc. have pensions and welfare officers who will be able to help you with your claim.

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What happens when my claim is decided?

DVA will determine whether you are eligible and then work out how much ISS you will be receiving based on your personal circumstances. When a decision has been made you will be notified by letter. This will include the decision and, if applicable, the date of grant and amount of ISS you will receive. Your Pensioner Concession Card will be issued at the same time.

Your ISS may be backdated to the grant date of your War Widow(er)'s or Wholly Dependent Partner Payment if the social security payment or benefit you were previously receiving is cancelled as a result of the commencement of that payment.

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What if I am not happy with the decision?

If your claim for ISS is not approved, or you don't believe you are receiving the correct rate of ISS, you have the right to ask that we review the decision. You may apply to have the decision reviewed by a Review Officer. If you decide to apply for a review, you must do so within 3 months of receiving the letter notifying you of our decision in relation to your income support pension. Your request for a review must set out in writing your reasons for seeking the review.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the Review Officer's decision, you may apply in writing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of that decision. Your application should set out the reasons for your appeal and should be lodged with the Tribunal within 3 months of the date you receive the Review Officer's decision in relation to your income support pension.

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Health Care

All ISS recipients receive a Pensioner Concession Card. This card entitles pensioners to a range of Australian Government, State and local government benefits and concessions. These concessions vary from state to state, and are determined by the authorities providing the concessions.

You can read about the discounts and concessions available in your state.

As a war widow or widower or wholly dependent partner, you are also entitled to treatment and health services for all conditions, at the expense of the Department. This health care is provided through the Veteran Gold Card.

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Arranging your affairs

It is advisable to keep all your important papers, such as wills, birth certificates, and mortgage papers, in a safe place known to family and friends. A booklet containing information to assist you in arranging your affairs, called Planning Ahead - A Guide to Putting Your Affairs in Order, is available from DVA or ex-service organisations such as the RSL or Legacy.

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Bereavement Payments

Additional financial assistance, in the form of a Bereavement Payment and/or a Funeral Benefit, may be provided to the surviving partner, or to a pensioner's estate, immediately after the death of a pensioner, or to the parent(s) in respect of the death of a dependent child.

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Your obligations

As an ISS recipient you have a responsibility to keep us informed of changes that may affect the amount of pension you receive. These responsibilities are described in:

In order to meet your obligations, you need to tell DVA within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) if:

  • your residential situation changes
  • your marital situation changes
  • you receive the maximum rate pension and your income exceeds the adjusted income free area and/or your assets exceed the assets value limit
  • you receive a reduced rate pension and your income and/or assets exceed the limits stated in our most recent letter to you about your ISS
  • you move or travel overseas
  • there is any other change that would affect the rate of your ISS.

Fulfilling your obligations within the specified time period ensures your ISS is paid at the correct rate.

 

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