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Eligibility for partner service pension when separated from veteran
Last amended: 19 August 2011
Separation from a veteran
Special rules apply when a partner has separated from a veteran due to a breakdown in their relationship. Continuing eligibility depends on whether the partner and the veteran were married in or in a de facto relationship, the age of the partner, or whether special domestic circumstances apply.
If the partner and veteran were married
A person who is married to a veteran remains eligible for partner service pension after separation, if
- the person is legally married to the veteran, and More →More → (go back)
Non-Illness Separated Spouse
- the person does not enter a de facto relationship with another person, and
- the person has not been maritally separated from the veteran for more than 12 months, or
- the person has reached or will reach age pension age within 12 months of separation, or
- special domestic circumstances apply.
In some cases, eligibility for partner service pension will be lost 12 months from the date of separation.
For these provisions to apply, the veteran must be a member of the pension bonus scheme or receiving:
- age service pension, or
- invalidity service pension, or
- would have been receiving either of these pensions if it were not for the operation of a disqualifying provision.
The separated partner must also:
- satisfy the qualifying age requirement, or
- be exempt from this requirement.
Loss of eligibility on breakdown of marriage
Eligibility for partner service pension is lost 12 months from the date of separation where a legally married partner is under age pension age and special domestic circumstances do not apply. An additional 14 days after the 12 month period may be allowed before cancellation, consistent with the notification periods under the date of effect rules.
Eligibility for partner service pension is lost on divorce from the veteran. It is also lost immediately the person enters into a de facto relationship with another person.
A widow/widower of a veteran 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, unless special domestic circumstances apply or they reach pension age within 12 months of separation.
An additional 14 days after the 12 month period may be allowed before cancellation, consistent with the notification periods under the date of effect rules.
If the partner and veteran were in a de-facto relationship
If the partner and veteran were in a de-facto relationship, then eligibility for partner service pension is lost from the date of separation.
Special domestic circumstances
A person remains eligible for partner service pension if special domestic circumstances apply.
Special domestic circumstances are:
- where the non-illness separated spouse and the veteran are not living in the same residence, and
- the veteran has a psychological or mental health condition recognised by DVA, and
- there was an unsafe or abusive domestic environment in respect of the partner or the partner's family prior to separation.
Impact of sex affirmation surgery
Where one member of a legally married couple has undergone sex affirmation surgery after the date of the marriage, the marriage is not invalidated. The couple can continue to be regarded as legally married. This means that if the couple separate, partner service pension eligibility continues for 12 months from the date of separation.
Member of a couple status after sex affirmation surgery
A note must be added in VIEW confirming that the couple's relationship status (as veteran and spouse) has not changed, to overcome current system limitations and provide a safeguard if the couple separate. This is because the system will only currently allow same sex couples to be recorded as being in a de facto relationship.
New eligibility criteria must be met for new claims
If eligibility for partner service pension is lost, any subsequent new claim for partner service pension must meet the eligibility requirements current at the time of the new claim.
Loss of eligibility for partner service pension occurs in the following situations:
- divorce from the veteran,
- a de facto partner separating from a veteran,
- a partner starting a new de facto relationship,
- 12 months after separation where a former legally married partner is under age pension age and special domestic circumstances do not apply.
Where the claimant is a spouse separated from the veteran within the last 12 months and who will not reach pension age at the date 12 months from separation, partner service pension may be granted or recommenced. However, if special domestic circumstances do not apply, the spouse must be advised that partner service pension will cease 12 months from the date of separation.
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.
Separated couple reconcile
A person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.
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.