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9.3.1 Overview of Relationship Status

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Last amended: 1 July 2009

Purpose of determining relationship status

The determination of relationship status is important for the following reasons:    

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Policy Library – Establishing Proof of Relationship to a Veteran

2.2.2/Establishing Proof of Relationship to a Veteran

Policy Library – Effect of Relationship Status on Rate

Section 9.3.4

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  • deciding eligibility for payment or benefit under the VEA for a non-veteran, because of a person's previous or continuing relationship to a veteran or deceased veteran, eg war widow's pension, or to partner pension under section 38 VEA, and
  • where eligibility is determined for a veteran or non-veteran claimant, the relationship status of a person is one factor taken into account when calculating the rate payable or level of benefit to be made, eg whether the member of a couple rate or not a member of a couple rate applies.
Member of a couple

The legal definitions of a  member of a couple , referred to in the VEA as a partner , are found in section 5E(2) VEA, section 5E(3) VEA, section 5E(4) VEA and section 5E(4A) VEA. In ordinary terms a member of a couple is a person who is:    

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Policy Library – Member of a Couple

Section 9.3.2

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  • married
  • remarried
  • a de facto partner
  • living apart as a result of illness on an indefinite basis but maintaining a married or de facto relationship
  • living apart as a result of respite care, which is a short term separation
  • separated on grounds other than breakdown in the relationship, usually on a temporary basis
Not a member of a couple

The term not a member of a couple is referred to in the VEA to cover situations where an individual is treated as a single person. In ordinary terms not a member of a couple equates to being:    

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Policy Library – Not a Member of a Couple

Section 9.3.3

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  • single, never married,
  • widowed,
  • divorced,
  • separated on the grounds of a breakdown of a de facto relationship or marriage and living apart,
  • maritally separated, but sharing the same principal home,

and in all of the above listed cases, not remarried or in a de facto relationship.

Not a member of a couple rate and member of a couple rate

In administering the VEA, the rate of pension payable is described in terms of two general categories:

Note: There are special circumstances where a member of a couple can be paid at the not a member of a couple rate.    

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Policy Library – Effect of Relationship Status on Rate

Section 9.3.4

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When relationship status is not clear from information on the claim

In most cases, the relationship status of a person will be evident in the claim. There will be situations where further information is sought, in order to make a determination about a person's relationship status, for example:     

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Policy Library – Assessment of a Claim

2.1.4/Investigation of a Claim

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Requirement to notify of changes to relationship status

Changes to relationship status must be notified to DVA under section 54 VEA to ensure entitlements are not over or under paid as follows :    

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Policy Library – Recipient Obligations

Section 12.1.1

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  • marriage or remarriage
  • entering into a de facto relationship
  • temporary separation from partner, for illness or other reasons
  • permanent separation from partner, for illness or other reasons, including breakdown in the relationship
  • reuniting with a partner following a separation
  • divorce
  • partner dies
Misrepresentation of relationship status and personal circumstances

    

VEA ?

Secretary May Require Notification of an Event or Change of Circumstances

Section 54 VEA

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If a person fraudulently or deliberately misrepresents their relationship status, for example declares they are single when they are in a de facto relationship or fails to notify they have married, they may be overpaid their entitlements and risk criminal prosecution.    

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Policy Library – Failure to Meet Obligations

Section 12.1.5

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Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

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 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 ServiceWar 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.

 

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is a member of a couple or not a member of a couple. Typically, the 'not a member of a couple' rate is higher than the 'member of a couple' rate since people living on their own do not benefit from the economies of pooling their resources and sharing their expenditures with another person.

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is a member of a couple or not a member of a couple. Typically, the 'not a member of a couple' rate is higher than the 'member of a couple' rate since people living on their own do not benefit from the economies of pooling their resources and sharing their expenditures with another person.

According to Section 5E(2) of the VEA a person is a member of a couple, if they are:

  • legally married to another person and is not living separately and apart from the other person on a permanent basis; or
  • living in a prescribed registered relationship with the other person (whether of the same sex or a different sex) and is not living separately and apart from that other person on a permanent basis; or
  • all of the following conditions are met:
  • living with another person, whether of the same sex or a different sex;
  • not legally married to that person;
  • in a de facto relationship with that person; and
  • not in a prohibited relationship

The term “partnered” is also commonly used.

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

A person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.

The term member of a couple generally replaces married person in the current VEA.

 

The term de facto is commonly used to describe persons living as a couple while not legally married. The term used in the VEA is de facto relationship which is defined in section 11A of VEA.

 

 

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.

 

 

Respite care is care provided for one member of a couple in a nursing home or hostel on a temporary basis so that their partner can have a break from providing care.  For care to be recognised as respite care under the VEA, it must be Government subsidised care provided under the Aged Care Act 1997.

A pensioner receiving such care, and their partner (a respite care couple), are entitled to be paid the single rate of pension.

For the full definition of respite care, refer to subsection 5NC(8) of the VEA.

 

 

The term not a member of a couple covers all persons who are not covered by the definitions of member of a couple.

 

 

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

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.

 

 

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is a member of a couple or not a member of a couple. Typically, the 'not a member of a couple' rate is higher than the 'member of a couple' rate since people living on their own do not benefit from the economies of pooling their resources and sharing their expenditures with another person.

Most income support pensions and many of the associated allowances are paid at different rates depending on whether the recipient is a member of a couple or not a member of a couple. Typically, the 'not a member of a couple' rate is higher than the 'member of a couple' rate since people living on their own do not benefit from the economies of pooling their resources and sharing their expenditures with another person.

According to Section 5E(2) of the VEA a person is a member of a couple, if they are:

  • legally married to another person and is not living separately and apart from the other person on a permanent basis; or
  • living in a prescribed registered relationship with the other person (whether of the same sex or a different sex) and is not living separately and apart from that other person on a permanent basis; or
  • all of the following conditions are met:
  • living with another person, whether of the same sex or a different sex;
  • not legally married to that person;
  • in a de facto relationship with that person; and
  • not in a prohibited relationship

The term “partnered” is also commonly used.

The principal home has the meaning given by subsection 5LA(1) of the VEA and subsection 5LA(2) of the VEA. The principal home of a person is generally the place in which they reside. In certain circumstances, however, the principal home of a person can be the place in which they formerly resided. The following property is regarded as part of the principal home.

  • the residence itself (e.g. house, flat, caravan),
  • permanent fixtures (e.g. stoves, built-in heaters, dish-washers, light fittings and affixed carpets),
  • [glossary:curtilage:DEF/Curtilage] (i.e. two hectares or less of private land around the home where the private land use test has been satisfied, or all land held on the same title as the person's principal home where the extended land use test has been satisfied), or
  •       any garage, shed, tennis court or swimming pool used primarily for private purposes provided it is on the same title as the principal home.

 

 

The term de facto is commonly used to describe persons living as a couple while not legally married. The term used in the VEA is de facto relationship which is defined in section 11A of VEA.

 

 

The Department of Veterans' Affairs.

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:

 

 

An illness separated couple is a couple who cannot share a home because of the illness or infirmity of one or both partners. Illness separated couples may be paid the higher single rate of pension. Refer to subsection 5R(5) of the VEA for the full definition.

 

 

An approved facility under the Aged Care Act 1997 is one that has been assessed to meet certain standards of care and accommodation.

Note: Nursing homes and nursing home beds that are fully funded by a State Government do not come under the Aged Care Act 1997.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs.

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 person's 'partner' is someone who is a member of a couple with that person.

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.

 

 

The term member of a couple generally replaces married person in the current VEA.