Today, there are tens of thousands of Australians who are living with an injury or condition suffered in the line of duty. Impacts can include both physical and psychological conditions, and these can lead to further complex, long-term issues if the right treatment and support isn’t given when it’s needed. But knowing how and where to go to get support is confusing and challenging.
In this article, we look at what you need to know about making a military compensation claim to help you feel confident and empowered to seek the right support for your needs.
The price paid for service
Every day, my team and I work with veterans and their families across Australia to help them seek much-needed compensation to support their recovery from the injuries suffered during their service.
And sadly, those we see are not in the minority. In September 2017, there were more than 288,000 veterans and dependents who needed assistance under one or more of the three major government compensation schemes.
It’s well known it’s not just physical injuries veterans can suffer from. Depression, emotional and behavioural disorders and relationship impacts can all be a result of military service. Tragically families of ex-service men and women have also lost loved ones through suicide.
And the cost of an injury goes well beyond just the injured person. It affects husbands, wives, partners, children and relatives—whose lives and financial situations can be completely changed. And of course, this has a ripple effect on the wider community and economy.
Often, months or years may pass before the full extent of an injury become obvious. An independent study found some years after service, veterans can have health problems that are worse than those of the general population.
Getting access to compensation to help cover the necessary medical and allied healthcare support is essential. But so are support services like childcare, counselling, household services and attendant care to help with adjusting to life after an injury.
Who can get compensation support?
If you are a current or former member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), a cadet, cadet officer, cadet instructor or member of the Australian Federal Police with approved overseas service, you and your family may be eligible for a number of different benefits including:
- Medical treatment and benefits
- Future aids and appliances including hearing aids, orthotics etc
- Retraining and rehabilitation
- Emergency income support if you are unable to work
- Lump sum compensation for permanent injuries, conditions and diseases
- Incapacity payments or disability pensions
- Access to household assistance
- Payments to cover alterations to your home and/or possibly place of work.
The challenges of applying for military compensation
Unfortunately knowing how to apply for the right compensation is challenging and complex–and often will mean that you need to deal with a number of pieces of legislation.
Australia’s military compensation law system is run by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). There are multiple different schemes that cover military compensation and rehabilitation which vary dependent on the dates and places of your service.
Veterans and their families are sadly having to spend significant time battling through this complex statutory scheme to get fair compensation, rather than focusing on getting well. Or worse, they’re potentially missing out on the right compensation and support.
Getting the right help is key
If you or someone you love has experienced a physical or psychological injury in the line of duty you should seek independent advice as soon as possible. You should be seeking assistance even if you’re still serving, not waiting until after discharge, so I encourage anyone who thinks they have a claim to lodge it as soon as they can after they have sustained an injury or been diagnosed with a condition or disease.
Getting help from a military compensation lawyer expert who can help you know what you’re entitled to, support you through making a claim, and will be there to fight your battle may be key to helpingyou get what you’re entitled to.
And even if you’ve been knocked back before on liability, had claims disallowed or not reached sufficient impairment lump sum compensation to be paid, it may not be too late to act. Getting in contact with an expert as soon as you can will help you know where you stand.
Even if you have been paid compensation in the past and your conditions have deteriorated, you may be entitled to further compensation. Unlike Common Law, the statutory schemes can compensate you for the remainder of your life.
We’re here to help
Our Military Compensation team at Slater and Gordon have decades of experience in helping veterans get the best outcomes possible—for themselves, their families and their future.
I’m proud to lead a team who are passionate about the welfare of our Defence personnel and understand the challenges you and your family may be going through.
We’re committed to voicing the problems with the system to our law makers because we see it on a day-to-day basis and how it affects injured veterans and their families.
You don’t need to do it alone–we can help with the claim process. We’re proud to provide our clients with access to leading, affordable legal services, including our No Win, No Fee* commitment, as well as free Social Work Services support if needed.
 Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Statistics about the veteran population, March 2018.
*Conditions apply. See: https://www.slatergordon.com.au/the-firm/legal-costs/no-win-no-fee
The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.