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. This is in addition to entitlements under one or more Government ex gratia schemes, a Commonwealth-funded superannuation policy and/or a personal insurance policy.
Making a claim
To make a claim, you need to complete the appropriate claim form. These forms are available from your nearest Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) office or the DVA website. You're encouraged to get help filling this form out if you find any part difficult to complete. Most service and ex-service organisations have officers and advocates who can help you with your claim.
Supporting evidence can help your claim
It's the responsibility of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) delegate to investigate your claim. While you do not have to prove anything about your claim, any supporting medical or other evidence that you may be able to provide will increase the likelihood of your claims being determined quickly and in your favour.
The investigation process
Once you've lodged a claim, a delegate of the MRCC must investigate your claim before making a decision. The investigation is aimed at ensuring that all information relevant to your claim is available when the delegate makes a decision.
The type of information that the delegate looks for can differ from case to case, but usually includes your service history, service medical records and other information on your medical history.
The delegate may also ask you for information in your possession or readily available to you. The information needed will be requested in writing and you'll be advised of how long you have to provide the information. Normally, this will be 28 days so that finalisation of your claim is not unduly delayed. You can ask for an extension of time if there's likely to be a delay in getting that information.
Additionally, the delegate may ask you to undergo a medical examination. The MRCC will pay for any medical examinations it requests, as well as reasonable travel and accommodations costs associated with it.
You should lodge a claim as soon as possible
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 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."
The 10 biggest mistakes you can make
Here are the ten biggest mistakes you can make when dealing with the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC):
Relying on a delegate or coordinator to fill in your claim form
Failing to obtain independent specialist medical advice (that is, advice from somebody who was not recommended by a delegate)
Using an advisor who is not legally qualified or insured to help you with your claim - or worse still, not seeking advice at all
Accepting a delegate’s view as to whether you have an injury or disease that gives you a right to compensation
Accepting an offer of compensation without seeking independent legal advice
Accepting any decision involving the offsetting of your entitlements without having the calculations independently checked
Accepting a delegate’s view as to which scheme is best for you if you have defence service before and after 1 July 2004
Thinking that a delegate has your best interests at heart when you are injured or unwell
Believing a delegate will quickly determine your claim - all correspondence should be acknowledged within 28 days and your claim determined or reconsidered in less than 3 months
Believing that a rejected claim or lapsed time-frame means the end of the road without obtaining independent legal advice.
Speak to our team today
Slater and Gordon’s military compensation lawyers are ready to take up the fight for you. We are Australia’s leading military compensation law firm, and we value the service and sacrifice of our veterans, defence personnel and their families.
Even if you’ve been knocked back, or think you’ve missed the deadline, it may not be too late to act. Speak to our team today so we can help you determine exactly where you stand.
Our initial appointment is cost and obligation free**, and if you do decide to choose our team to represent you, we'll usually act on a No Win - No Fee* basis.
How we can help
We understand the wide range of different schemes that cover military compensation and rehabilitation. The scheme you are covered by will depend on the dates and places of your service. You, and your family, may be eligible for a number of different benefits. They include:
Income support if you are unable to work
Lump sum compensation to cover permanent injuries
Allowance for home care
Payments to cover alterations to your place of work
Benefits to dependants of deceased workers.