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4.1.1 Overview of Disability Pension Eligibility
What is a disability pension?
A disability pension is paid to compensate a veteran, member of the Forces, member of a Peacekeeping Force or Australian mariner for injuries or diseases caused or aggravated by war service or certain defence service on behalf of Australia.
Categories of disability pension
There are four categories of disability pension payable:
- General Rate,
- Extreme Disablement Adjustment,
- Intermediate Rate, and,
- Special Rate.
The General Rate is the scale of compensation that takes into account the medical impairment and life style effects of an accepted condition or conditions. It does not have regard to whether or not a veteran is employed.
Extreme Disablement Adjustment
The Extreme Disablement Adjustment compensates a person who is extremely disabled and in receipt of the 100 per cent general rate disability pension, but whose accepted disabilities have further degenerated after age 65.
The intermediate rate provides a rate of pension to bridge the gap between the general rate and the special rate for ex-servicemen capable of part-time or intermittent work only.
The special rate of disability pension provides compensation to a person who is unable to resume or continue in paid work for periods of more than eight hours per week due to:
- total and permanent incapacity, or
- total and temporary incapacity.
Specific disability allowance
The specific disability allowance increases the rate of disability pension paid for certain war-caused or defence-caused amputations, or amputations and/or loss of sight.
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 member of the forces is a person who served in the defence force for a continuous period that commenced after 7 December 1972 and has the type of service required in sections 69, 69A and 69B of the VEA.
“Member of a Peacekeeping Force means a person who is serving, or has served, with a Peacekeeping Force outside Australia as an Australian member, or as a member of the Australian contingent, of that Peacekeeping Force."
A person who was during World War 2:
- a master, officer or seaman employed under agreement, or an apprentice employed under indenture, in sea-going service on a ship registered in Australia that was engaged in trading between a port in a State or Territory and any other port, or
- a master, officer or seaman employed under agreement, or an apprentice employed under indenture, in sea-going service on a ship registered outside Australia who was, or whose dependants were, resident in Australia for at least 12 months immediately before he or she entered into the agreement or indenture.
Refer to section 5C of VEA for a full definition.
According to subsection 5D(1), an injury means any physical or mental injury (including the recurrence of a physical or mental injury) but does not include:
- a disease, or
- the aggravation of a physical or mental injury.
According to subsection 5D(1), disease means:
- any physical or mental ailment, disorder, defect or morbid condition (whether of sudden onset or gradual development), or
- the recurrence of such an ailment, disorder, defect or morbid condition,
but does not include:
- the aggravation of such an ailment, disorder, defect or morbid condition, or
- a temporary departure from:
the normal physiological state, or
the accepted ranges of physiological or biochemical measures,
that results from normal physiological stress (for example, the effect of exercise on blood pressure) or the temporary effect of extraneous agents (for example, alcohol on blood cholesterol levels).
According to subsection 5D(2), incapacity from a war or defence-caused disease or injury is a reference to the effects of that injury or disease, and not a reference to the injury or disease itself.