Bereavement payments, funeral benefits and other assistance under the VEA
This page provides information on bereavement payments, funeral benefits and other assistance provided under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) following the death of a veteran.
Note: For information about bereavement payments and funeral benefits available under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), please go to Bereavement payment and assistance under the MRCA.
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What is a bereavement payment
A bereavement payment is a one-off, non-taxable payment which aims to help with any additional costs following the death of eligible veterans. If the deceased veteran left behind a partner, the bereavement payment will help them to adjust their finances after the deceased veteran’s DVA payments stop.
There are two types of bereavement payment under the VEA which we pay following the death of a veteran. One type includes those made in relation to a veteran who received a Disability Compensation Payment. The other type are those made in relation to a veteran who received an Income Support Payment. If the deceased received both a Disability Compensation Payment and an Income Support Payment, they may receive bereavement payments in relation to both.Back to top
Who is eligible for a bereavement payment
Members of a couple
If the veteran was a member of a couple, we will make the payment to the surviving partner.
We define “couple” as those in any of the following situations:
- living together
- living separately because one or both of the members of the couple was ill or frail
- living separately because one or both members was in respite care at the time of death.
There are two circumstances where we will pay the surviving partner a payment.
One is that the veteran must have been receiving a Disability Compensation Payment.
The other is where the veteran was receiving a service pension, a social security age pension or an income support supplement. In this case, the surviving partner must themselves be receiving a service pension, income support supplement or social security pension at the time of the veteran’s death.
We usually make a bereavement payment to the estate if the veteran was single, separated, or widowed at the time of death. The veteran must have been receiving one of the following:
- service pension
- social security age pension
- income support supplement
- Disability Compensation Payment at the Special rate (T&PI) and died in needy circumstances, or
- Disability Compensation Payment at the Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) rate and died in needy circumstances.
Note: We consider that a person died in needy circumstances if their estate doesn’t have enough funds to pay for all outstanding liabilities including the cost of the person's funeral.Back to top
How do I get a bereavement payment
You generally don’t have to apply for a bereavement payment if the deceased person was a member of a couple. Payment will occur automatically upon notification of the death to DVA.
If the veteran was single, died in needy circumstances, and was receiving a Special rate (T&PI) or Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) Disability Compensation Payment prior to their death, then we may make a bereavement payment to the estate. To apply for a bereavement payment for a single veteran, please fill out Form D9145 and return it to DVA. You need to make an application for payment within 12 months of the veteran's death.Back to top
How much bereavement payment can I receive
The amount of bereavement payment depends on the payments the veteran received before they died. We also take into account whether they were single or a member of a couple.
Bereavement payments are not counted as income for taxation purposes. Please contact us if you need a statement of taxable service pension paid to the deceased pensioner.
Members of a couple where the veteran received Income Support Pension
In this case the surviving partner is eligible for a bereavement payment and continues to receive the veteran’s pension entitlements for 98 days from the day the veteran died.
In most cases this will be in the form of a lump sum payment. The amount will be the difference between the new single rate of pension and the previous combined rates of each member of the couple, by 98 days. If the new single rate of pension is equal or higher than the previous combined rates of each member of the couple, the surviving partner will not receive an additional payment.
For a couple who were separated by illness, we calculate the bereavement payment on the partnered rate of pension as if they were not living apart. We do not base it on the illness-separated rate that the couple had previously been receiving.
Because we pay pensions in advance, the actual amount deposited may have been adjusted. When we make a pension payment after the veteran has died we will include this in the bereavement payment calculation. We will automatically pay the bereavement payment lump sum into the account where the surviving partner's pension is paid.
Members of a couple where the veteran received a Disability Compensation Payment
In this situation we will make a bereavement payment to their surviving partner equivalent to six fortnightly pension instalments at the rate of pension they received before they died.
Single veteran on Income Support Pension
When a single veteran who received an Income Support Pension dies, we continue to pay the pension entitlements to their estate for 14 days.
Single veteran receiving a Disability Compensation Payment
For single veterans who also meet additional criteria, we will make a bereavement payment equal to six instalments of the fortnightly rate of Disability Compensation Payment. To be eligible, they must have received the Special rate (T&PI) or an Extreme Disablement Adjustment pension (EDA). They must also have died in needy circumstances.Back to top
What is a funeral benefit
A funeral benefit is a one-off payment, up to a maximum of $2,000, to help with the funeral costs of an eligible veteran or dependant.
The costs covered by a funeral benefit may include:
- memorial ceremonies or similar observances
- costs associated with burial, cremation or other legal means of disposal
- transporting the veteran's body from the place of death.
If a veteran is eligible for a funeral benefit, we can pay the amount directly to the funeral director at the request of the executor or nominated dependent.
Veterans who are automatically entitled and do not need to apply
Australian veterans who were receiving any of the following at the time of death are automatically eligible to receive a funeral benefit payment:
- Special rate (T&PI) of Disability Compensation Payment
- Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) rate of Disability Compensation Payment
- Disability Compensation Payment plus an allowance as a multiple amputee.
Veterans who were former prisoners of war are also automatically eligible to receive a funeral benefit.
In these situations we will automatically process and grant the funeral benefit after we are notified of the client's date of death. You do not need to apply.
Veterans who do need to apply
Other Australian veterans may also be eligible to receive a funeral benefit payment if they died in any of the following circumstances:
- from an accepted service-related disability
- in financial difficulty
- in an institution (including a hospital or nursing home)
- travelling to or from an institution
- after discharge from an institution where they received treatment for a terminal illness
- while being treated at home for a terminal illness.
If these circumstances are met, the estate or a dependant must submit an application. This should be done within 12 months of death, or from the date the veteran's death was accepted as war caused.
A funeral benefit may also be payable when an eligible veteran’s dependents die, such as a war widow(er), a child under 16, or a full time student under 25. Applications must be made within 12 months of the dependant’s death.
In the case where a veteran’s prisoner of war status was not known at the time of death, an application will also need to be submitted. There is no time limit for lodging this application and it can be submitted at any time.
Restrictions on dual payments of funeral benefit
A funeral benefit is not payable under the VEA if an entitlement to a funeral benefit exists under the MRCA.
Where a person has dual entitlement under the VEA and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), any funeral benefit paid under the VEA will reduce the amount payable under the DRCA.
Where eligibility for a funeral benefit arises due to a posthumous grant or an increase to the rate of Disability Compensation Payment, the amount payable as a funeral benefit is the rate applicable at the date of death.Back to top
War widow(er)'s pension and Gold Card
Partners of deceased veterans may be eligible for a War Widow(er)'s Pension. Dependent children of deceased veterans may be eligible for an orphan's pension. For more information and to apply go to Pension for orphans and war widowed partners.
People who receive a war widow(er)'s or orphan's pension also receive a Veteran Gold Card. This card entitles them to free health care. Go to Veteran Gold Card for more information.
Income Support Supplement
War widow(er)'s may be entitled to income support supplement (ISS). This pension is based on your income and assets and provides additional regular income. For more information go to Income support supplement.
A veteran whose death has been accepted as being war-caused may be entitled to official commemoration. For more information go to Official commemoration.
Returning aids and equipment
If the veteran had any rehabilitation aids and appliances provided through RAP, it is good to check if you can return these after the death of a veteran. The equipment can sometimes be re-used by other veterans, so they do not go to waste.
You can arrange the return of such equipment by contacting the supplier. The supplier’s contact details will be on the item. Contact us if you can’t find the supplier’s contact details or they can’t collect an item you no longer need.Back to top
How to apply for these benefits
Please complete the relevant form below and email to us at bereavement.sa [at] dva.gov.au or post to GPO Box 9998, Brisbane QLD 4001. You can also call us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).Back to top
If you need counselling or support
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling is a free and confidential 24-hour service for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families. Call 1800 011 046 or go to Open Arms to get support or find out more.Back to top