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B10/1991 EXTENSION OF BENEFITS TO SPOUSES OF FEMALE MEMBERS AND VETERANS

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DATE OF ISSUE: 26 FEBRUARY 1991

EXTENSION OF BENEFITS TO SPOUSES OF FEMALE MEMBERS AND VETERANS

Eligibility for Repatriation benefits is to be extended to spouses of female members of the forces and entitled female veterans.  The announcement was made by the Minister, Ben Humphreys on 22 January 1991.

2.Currently spouses of female members or veterans are not entitled to benefits under either the Veterans' Entitlements Act (VEA) or the Defence Service Homes Act (DSH Act).

3.To give effect to the new provisions, both the VEA and the DSH Acts require amendment.  The necessary legislation will be introduced in the Autumn Sittings of Parliament.  The effective date of the legislation for benefits payable under the VEA will be 22 January 1991 which is the date of the Minister's announcement.  The effective date for benefits available under the DSH Act will be the date the legislation receives Royal Assent.

4.The main effect of the decision is the provision of a war widower's pension to spouses of female members and veterans on the same basis as widows of male members and veterans.  Spouses of female veterans will also be eligible to apply for service pension and, widowers of eligible members will be entitled to apply for Defence Service Homes loans and insurance.

5.While eligibility for war widower's and service pension is to be backdated to 22 January 1991, there will be no provision to backdate the actual payment of war widower's or service pension prior to 22 January 1991.

INTERIM PROCEDURES

6.Although the Minister has announced the new benefits, it is not possible to commence action until the enabling legislation receives Royal Assent.

7.In the meantime, anybody who makes an enquiry should be asked to provide details in writing.  A separate register should be kept for this purpose so that the informal claims can be processed in the usual manner when the enabling legislation comes into force.

8.Further instructions will be issued when the legislation is available.

ORPHANS

9.There may be instances where death is accepted as service-related and a child is involved, in which case an orphan's pension may become payable and/or the child may be eligible for benefits available under the Veterans' Children Education Scheme.  Although it is not possible to put the widower's pension into payment until the legislation receives Royal Assent, the orphan's pension should be determined and put into payment in accordance with current legislation.

PETER HAWKER

NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR

BENEFITS