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Eligibility for Partner Service Pension
Last amended: 12 August 2011
- that veteran is or was in receipt of an age or invalidity service pension, or would receive such pension if:
- it were not for the operation of a disqualifying provision, or
- they had made a claim for service pension which would have been granted if they had not died, or
- that veteran is, or was registered as a member of the pension bonus scheme with DVA, or
- that veteran has, or had qualifying service and the partner is qualified for an age pension from Centrelink, and
- the partner satisfies the qualifying age requirement, or is exempt from this requirement, and
- the partner has not entered into a de facto relationship with another person or become legally married to a person after the death of the veteran.
Note: Non-illness separated spouses have limited eligibility for Partner Service Pension.
Note: Service records can be obtained without breaching the Privacy Act 1988 to determine qualifying service for a veteran in order to establish partner service pension eligibility (including eligibility of a non-illness separated spouse or a widow/er). Information Privacy Principle 10 provides that personal information obtained for a particular purpose may be used for another purpose, where the other purpose is required by or authorised in law.
Eligibility for partners where the veteran is not yet eligible
Where a veteran has qualifying service, but is not yet eligible for a service pension, the partner may be eligible for partner service pension if:
- the partner is age pension age, and
- the partner meets all of the other qualifying criteria for age pension from Centrelink.
Examples where this may occur include where a veteran has not yet reached pension age, but does have qualifying service, or an Allied or Commonwealth veteran does not meet the ten-year residency requirement. The partner will only be eligible for partner service pension if they meet all of the qualifying criteria for Centrelink age pension. This means that in the second example, the Allied or Commonwealth veteran's partner would need to qualify for Centrelink age pension (be age pension age and meet, or be exempt from the ten-year residency requirement) to be eligible for partner service pension.
The intent of this legislative provision is to extend DVA services to the veteran's family where possible. This enables a partner who would qualify for an age pension from Centrelink to instead receive a partner service pension from DVA.
Widow/widower of a veteran
To be eligible to be granted partner service pension, a widow/widower who was not receiving a pension at the time of the veteran's death must be qualified for Centrelink age pension. This means that she/she must be age pension age rather than qualifying age and must meet all of the qualifying criteria for Centrelink age pension.
Note: This age requirement does not apply in certain circumstances, for example:
- where the widow/widower was in receipt of partner service pension or a Centrelink pension immediately before the veteran's death; or
- where the partner had made a claim for partner service pension prior to the veteran's death, which would have been granted had the veteran not died.
Widow/widowers who are granted a war widow's/widower's pension are no longer eligible to receive partner service pension.
If the war widow/widower is eligible for a war widow's pension, then they may also be eligible for Income Support Supplement.
Widow/widower of a veteran – separated or re-partnered
A widow/widower who was receiving partner service pension at the time of the veteran's death, and had separated from the veteran prior to the death, will lose eligibility for partner service pension 12 months from the date of separation. Some exceptions apply.
A widow/widower will lose eligibility for partner service pension immediately if they become legally married, or enter into a de facto relationship after the veteran's death.
Date of effect for loss of partner service pension
If notification obligations are met, then the date of effect for cancellation of partner service pension is the day after the end of the notification period. If the person fails to notify the department of an event or change of circumstances which would result in the loss of eligibility for partner service pension, then the date of effect is the of event or change of circumstances. This policy is outlined in Departmental Instruction C31/99.
Lodging a claim
Although a person may meet the eligibility criteria for partner service pension, such a person will not be granted partner service pension unless they lodge a proper claim.
Note: Provisions for backdating may apply where the person's partner is a special rate disability pensioner.
Restrictions on dual pensions
Restrictions exist on the payment of dual pensions.
A person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.
A widow is a woman who was:
- the partner of a person immediately before the person died; or
- legally married to a man and living with him immediately before he died; or
- legally married to a man and living separetely and apart from him on a permanent basis, immediately before he died.
A widower is a man who was:
- the partner of a person immediately before the person died: or
- legally married to a woman and living with her immediately before she died; or
- legally married to a woman and living separetely and apart from her on a permanent basis immediately before she died.
For the purposes of Part VI of the VEA, a reference to a veteran is taken to be a reference to:
- a veteran as defined in subsection 5C(1) of the VEA;
- a member of the Forces as defined in subsection 68(1) of the VEA; or
- a member of a Peacekeeping Force as defined in subsection 68(1) of the VEA.
For the purposes of Part VII of the VEA, according to subsection 5C(1), veteran means a person (including a deceased person):
- who is taken to have rendered eligible war service, or
- in respect of whom a pension is, or pensions are, payable under subsection 13(6) and
- in Part III and Part VIIC of the VEA includes a person who is:
- a Commonwealth veteran, or
- an allied veteran, or
- an allied mariner.
A disqualifying provision has the effect that an age or invalidity service pension that would otherwise be payable to the veteran is not, or ceases to be, payable.
Section 38(1A) of the VEA refers.
For a pension to be otherwise payable to a veteran, the veteran must firstly be eligible for the pension. Where a veteran is eligible but not payable for pension, the partner may be eligible to receive partner service pension.
A partner may become eligible for partner service pension, or continue to be eligible for partner service pension, where:
- the veteran meets the eligibility criteria for age or invalidity pension contained in section 36 of the VEA or section 37 of the VEA; but:
- the veteran has not yet lodged a claim for service pension; or
- the veteran dies without lodging a claim for service pension; or
- the veteran's service pension is not payable as the rate of payment is nil; or
- the veteran's service pension is not payable because it has not commenced to be payable; or
- the veteran's service pension is not payable because the veteran is receiving another income support pension or income support benefit
- the veteran's service pension is not payable due to the compensation recovery provisions in Part IIIC of the VEA; or
- the veteran's service pension is cancelled or suspended; or
- the veteran is in gaol; or
- the veteran's pension is not payable because the veteran has not provided a tax file number.
Qualifying service is one of the criteria used to determine eligibility for certain benefits under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. Refer to section 7A of the VEA for the full defintion.
Centrelink is a Government service delivery agency responsible for delivering a range of Commonwealth Government services (including social security pensions and allowances) to the Australian community through a network of more than 400 Centrelink offices.
A person is considered to be in a de facto relationship if the person is:
living with another person (their partner) whether of the same sex or a different sex;
not legally married to the partner; and
certain features of that relationship are typical for members of a couple, and
the person and the partner are not within a prohibited relationship
Refer to section 11A of the VEA for the full definition.
Note: A relationship needs to be established for a period of twelve months to be considered a 'de facto relationship' for VCES purposes.
A form of pension that is paid to the partner of a veteran where the veteran has died as a result of war service or eligible Defence Service. War widow's/widower's pension is also paid to the partner of a veteran whose death was not war caused if the veteran was a ex-prisoner of war or if the veteran was receiving Extreme Disablement Adjustment Rate, Special Rate (T&PI) or a rate increased in respect of certain war-caused injury or disease.
To be a proper claim, the claim must be:
- made in writing;
- in accordance with a form approved by the Commission; and
- accompanied by any evidence available to the claimant that the claimant considers may be relevant to the claim