Claim military compensation or veterans’ entitlements
You may have entitlements under an Australian military compensation or veterans’ entitlements scheme if you are:
- a current or former member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) (Permanent or Reserves)
- a current or former Cadet, or an Officer or Instructor of Cadets
- a current or former member of the Australian Federal Police with approved overseas service
- an Australian participant involved in British nuclear tests in Australia
- a dependant of any of the above persons.
You or your dependants may have multiple entitlements for the same injury, disease or death under more than one scheme in addition to entitlements under one or more Government ex gratia schemes, a Commonwealth-funded superannuation policy and/or a personal insurance policy.
Offsetting provisions apply and some choices you will be asked to make are irrevocable (that is, you cannot later change your mind even if your chosen benefit option does not suit your personal circumstances).
There are strict timeframes for the provision of certain requested information or documentation and for challenging decisions. Failure to comply with prescribed timeframes may result in the suspension of your entitlements or extinguishment of your rights.
It is highly recommended that you obtain comprehensive and independent advice from a qualified legal practitioner about your obligations, rights and entitlements, especially in the following circumstances:
- if you have been, or will be, medically discharged from the ADF
- if your claim has taken more than 3 months to be determined or reconsidered
- if your claim has been rejected or you have been told you are entitled to nothing
- if you have been asked to make an irrevocable Common Law election.
When should I lodge a claim?
The DVA has published the following advice in relation to lodging a claim on its website:
If you are a serving member and you incur an injury or contract a disease which you think could be related to your ADF service on or after 1 July 2004, it is important that you lodge a claim with the [DVA] as soon as possible. Do not wait until you are discharging from the ADF. Concealing an injury or disease can often make the condition worse or endanger others by putting them at risk when injuries compromise your ability to do your job.
Lodging a claim shortly after the incident will also mean your claim will be processed sooner. Following a decision on your claim, any payments you may be entitled to will also start sooner. The claim process will also be simpler because incident and medical records are easier to locate for recent events. Details such as dates, injuries and symptoms are still fresh in your mind and the minds witnesses and medical staff.
What benefits am I entitled to?
You may be entitled to several types of benefits that can help you and your family through difficult times. Your entitlements can be categorised broadly as follows:
1. Medical and rehabilitation
You can be entitled to medical and rehabilitation to help in your recovery and return to work where possible.
This covers medical, psychosocial and vocational rehabilitation.
2. Income support if you are unable to work
If you are incapacitated for work due to accepted conditions, you may be entitled to incapacity payments to compensate you for loss of income and capacity to earn income.
3. Lump sums to cover permanent injuries
If your condition is deemed to be permanent you are entitled to permanent impairment payments as a periodic payment, a lump sum or a combination of both. Your level of impairment is assessed based on a set of uniform guidelines, which differs from a treating doctor’s assessment.
4. Other benefits
Other benefits you may be entitled to include disability pensions; aids and appliances; household and attendant
care services; alterations to place of work; education and residence; and pharmaceutical and telephone allowances.
5. Benefits for injuries caused by another person’s negligence
If you are seriously injured or ill due to the negligence of another person or organisation, you may be able to
sue them for compensation. This may be against the Commonwealth, another member of the ADF or a third party.
As a dependant of a service person who has died, you can still sue the Commonwealth or another member
of the ADF even if the deceased member choses not to instigate legal action for the injury or disease that resulted in the death.
Time limits apply to make these claims and there are strict requirements so it is important that you obtain legal advice on whether to proceed.