C45/1997 PROOF OF IDENTITY AND RELATIONSHIP TO VETERAN IN COMPENSATION CLAIMS | Compensation and Support Reference Library, Departmental Instructions, 1997

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C45/1997 PROOF OF IDENTITY AND RELATIONSHIP TO VETERAN IN COMPENSATION CLAIMS

Document

DATE OF ISSUE:  12 SEPTEMBER 1997

PROOF OF IDENTITY AND RELATIONSHIP TO VETERAN IN COMPENSATION CLAIMS

Please note: For further information in relation to Proof of Identity refer to DI C30/2004.

Purpose

To provide guidance to claims assessors in establishing the identity of a claimant, and the relationship of the claimant to a veteran for claims lodged by dependents.

Background

In determining a claim for compensation benefits, the determining authority must be satisfied about all matters relating to the claim.  This includes the identity of the claimant and/or the relationship of the claimant to the veteran.

There are no provisions in the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 requiring that the identity of the claimant must be proved.  However, the determining authority must, of course, be satisfied that the claimant is a person who is eligible to claim benefits under the Act.

In view of the amount of documentary evidence obtained in relation to a claim for compensation benefits, the identity of the claimant can usually be confirmed during the normal course of investigation.  In some cases, however, the documentation obtained may not clearly verify the identity of the claimant, or the claimant's relationship to the veteran.  Some further investigation of this issue may be required.

Change of Name

Claims assessors should be wary of cases where the claimant has changed his or her name since birth.  In the absence of other evidence of identity, the claims assessor may need to request from the claimant copies of documents changing their identity (eg deed poll).

Account details

In all new claims, claims assessors should take note of the details of the account into which pension payment is to be made.  It is to be expected that the account into which the pension is to be paid would be in the claimant's name or, if it is a joint account, the name of the claimant must be one of the names in the account.

Section 122 of the VEA provides that, “Where a pensioner requests the Commission in writing to do so, the Commission may, in writing, approve payment of the pension to a person specified in the request for such a period as is specified in the approval.”

If the claimant's name does not appear in the name of the account into which payment has been made, and no request has been made by the claimant to pay the pension to another person, the claims assessor will need to take extra care to verify the identity of the claimant (possibly requesting supply of the birth certificate or other documents of identity).

Certificates

Where the claims assessor requires documents such as birth certificates and marriage certificates, photocopies will usually suffice.  Claims assessor should be wary of photocopies of documents which appear to have been tampered with.  If there is evidence of tampering, the claims assessor should consider asking to sight the originals.

Disability Pension Claims

The signature on the claim form can be checked against the signature on the veteran's enlistment form and discharge medical report.  The claims assessor should take into account the age of the veteran and any disability which may affect the veteran's handwriting.

In the majority of cases, the veteran's identity can be checked by comparing the identification details (name, date of birth) on the enlistment form, and the period of service, with details on the claim form.  Claims assessors should be aware that some veterans took another's identity or contrived their date of birth in order to enlist in the Forces, so this method is not always reliable.  Question 15 on the disability pension claim form asks “Did you serve under any other name?”, and asks for the name.

Claim by Dependent (Widow/
Widower)

Section 5E of the VEA contains family relationships definitions in relation to couples.

The Claim for Pension by a Widow, Widower or other Dependant of a Deceased Veteran form (D2663) asks for the claimant widow or widower to attach a copy of their marriage certificate or evidence of their relationship with the deceased veteran, and copies of their own identification documents, unless this material has already been supplied to the Department.

Claim by De Facto Spouse

Section 11A of the VEA says:

“In forming an opinion for the purposes of this Act whether 2 people are living together in a marriage-like relationship, regard is to be had to all the circumstances of the relationship including, in particular, the following matters:...”

The Section lists five matters:

the financial aspects of the relationship

the nature of the household

the social aspects of the relationship

any sexual relationship between the two people

the nature of the people's commitment to each other

and goes on to provide examples of issues relating to each of these matters.

If there is no documentation on file providing evidence of the marriage-like relationship in accordance with Section 11A, the claims assessor will need to request evidence from the claimant.

The Compensation Claims Processing System has standard letters and questionnaires which can be sent to the de facto spouse, asking questions about the relationship with the veteran along the lines of Section 11A.  A similar questionnaire is available to be sent to Legacy.

Claim by natural or adopted child of the veteran.

The Claim for Pension by a Widow, Widower or other Dependant of a deceased Veteran form (D2663) asks that a certified extract of the birth certificate showing the names of both parents, or an adoption order, in respect of each child named in the claim be attached.

Claim by child who was wholly or substantially supported by the veteran

Where the deceased veteran was not the father or mother of the child (either natural or adopted), the claim form asks that evidence that the child was wholly or substantially dependent on the veteran immediately before the veteran's death be attached.

If the child's address is given as the same address where the veteran resided prior to death, the claims assessor can assume with reasonable safety that the child was wholly or dependent upon the veteran for the purposes of the Act.

If the child's address is given as a different address, and there is no evidence on file indicating that the child was wholly or substantially dependent on the veteran, the claims assessor will need to contact the child's guardian or agent to ascertain the nature of the child's relationship with the veteran.  Any information obtained should be recorded in the form of a record of conversation or file note.

General

As delegates of the Repatriation Commission, claims assessors need to satisfy themselves in respect of all matters relating to a claim, and this includes that the identity of the claimant and the claimant's relationship with the veteran, where appropriate, are genuine.

There is no stringent policy in place in Disability Compensation for verifying the identity of a claimant or their relationship to the veteran, as the risk of a fraudulent claim being lodged on the basis of false identity is considered to be relatively low.

Mechanisms such as data-matching are in place which can detect instances of fraud, including claims based on false identity.

Proposed further action

The Quality Assurance program in Disability Compensation is in the process of being reviewed.  This review will include a risk assessment exercise which will look at issues such as verifying the identity of the claimant and their relationship to the veteran.

W R MAXWELL

BRANCH HEAD (DISABILITY COMPENSATION)