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8.3.1 Overview of Funeral Benefits

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Last amended 
4 September 2015
What is a funeral benefit?

A funeral benefit is a one–off payment that is intended to help cover expenses incurred in respect of:

A funeral benefit can still be paid even when there is an outstanding debt against the deceased eligible veteran or member of the Forces, or the deceased eligible dependant of a deceased veteran or member of the Forces. Action to recover the debt should be pursued against the estate of the deceased eligible veteran of member of the Forces, or the deceased eligible dependant of a deceased veteran or member of the Forces.     

 

Eligibility for a funeral benefit

A funeral benefit is payable in respect of the death of an eligible veteran or member of the Forces but not an allied veteran or an allied mariner. Only one payment of a funeral benefit can be made under the VEA in respect of a deceased veteran or member of the Forces or dependant.    

 

Amount of funeral benefit payable

The amount of funeral benefit payable relates to the date of death.

  • Up to $2000 towards the funeral costs of an eligible veteran or member of the Forces, or dependant who died on or after 1 July 2007;
  • Up to $1000 towards the funeral costs of an eligible veteran or member of the Forces, or dependant who died between 1 July 2004 and 30 June 2007 (inclusive);
  • Up to $572 towards the funeral costs of an eligible veteran or member of the Forces who died on or before 30 June 2004.
Maximum amount of funeral benefit payable

The maximum amount of funeral benefit payable is $2,000.    

Additional costs for transportation may also be paid in the case of a deceased eligible veteran or member of the Forces.    

 

What funeral expenses are allowed?

A funeral benefit is intended to assist with the funeral expenses incurred.  This includes the costs associated with disposal of the remains of the deceased, together with the costs of any ceremony, observance, rite or solemnity connected with the disposal.  The purchase of a burial plot or a wall niche (including advance purchases) can be accepted, where the delegate is satisfied that the purchase is an expense, or will become an associated expense, in respect of the person's funeral.  The costs of wakes, memorial ceremonies and other cultural observances associated with the funeral are also allowable.  Acceptable funeral expenses can also include memorial services or similar observances in the absence of a body, where the body has been donated to science or where the body is missing and there is a legal presumption of death.

Restrictions on dual payment of funeral benefits

A funeral benefit is not payable under the VEA if an entitlement exists to a funeral benefit under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).  The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 (C&TP Act) provide that in cases of dual entitlement, only the MRCA benefit is payable.

Specifically, subsection 15(5) of the C&TP Act states that if a person has dual eligibility for a funeral benefit under either the VEA or SRCA (as well as the MRCA), then the benefit is to be paid under the MRCA only.

SRCA - VEA interaction

Where there is dual entitlement under the SRCA and the VEA, the payment of the VEA funeral benefit is to proceed as normal as the SRCA provisions do not preclude dual payment. However, the SRCA provides that in determining a reasonable amount of compensation for funeral expenses, regard must be had to similar payments made under any other law of the Commonwealth (refer to subsection 18(2)(b) for further details).  Payment of the VEA benefit may therefore, as a result, reduce the payment made under the SRCA if the cost of the funeral is less than the statutory limit but in certain situations it may result in the combined SRCA/VEA benefit being greater than that amount.

Funeral benefit and bereavement payment both payable

The VEA allows the payment of both bereavement payment and funeral benefit for one pensioner if that person is eligible for both.

A bereavement payment is an amount payable in respect of a deceased pensioner that represents a continuation of the pensioner's entitlement for a period following the death (the bereavement period).

The payment can be made as:

  • a lump sum in advance, or
  • a continuation of the deceased person's pension instalments, or
  • a combination of both, or
  • a portion of the rate of pension payable to the surviving member of a couple identified as a separate amount only for taxation purposes.