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C03/2009 Unsigned Claim Forms

Document

DATE OF ISSUE:  3 February 2009

Unsigned Claim Forms

Amends DI No.

Replaces DI No.

C31/2007

Purpose

The purpose of this Instruction is to clarify what action should be taken if a claimant sends in an unsigned claim form, and how that claim should be treated. Please note that this DI replaces DI C31/2007.

Introduction

The various compensation and pension claim forms used by DVA require the claimant, or another person legally authorised to sign on the claimant's behalf, to sign the form.

As well as showing that the claimant is a person who can claim, the signature indicates that the information on the form is true and complete, and authorises DVA to obtain medical information about the claimant needed to process and determine the claim.

It is understandable that sometimes claimants may forget to provide a signature or may not see the last page of the form where the signature is requested.  However, if a form is lodged without a signature, the validity of the claim will be unclear, and DVA will not be authorised to collect the information required to process the claim.

Therefore, in order for claims in this category to be progressed, DVA officers must take action to obtain a signature from the claimant.

Relevant Claim Forms

Examples of forms to which this DI applies are as follows:

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA)

Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA)

  •                 Claim for Compensation in respect of the Death of an Employee (form AB168A),
  •                 Medical Release Authority (form AC723), and
  •                 Claim for Rehabilitation and Compensation (form D2020).

Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA)

  •                 Injury or Disease Details Sheet (form D2049),
  •                 Pre Payment Details Form (form D2050),
  •                 Claim for Liability and/or Reassessment of Compensation (form D2051),
  •                 Special Rate Disability Pension Payment Choices (form D2052), and

Claim for Compensation for Dependants of Deceased Members and Former Members (form D2053).

Procedure

If a DVA officer receives a claim form which does not include a signature from the claimant or another person legally authorised to sign on behalf of the claimant, the officer must complete the following steps:

  1. Register the claim and place a photocopy on file.
  2. Send the original claim form back to the claimant or other person legally authorised to act on the claimant's behalf, with a covering letter requesting that the form be signed and returned to DVA as soon as possible.
  3. Take such action as the officer is able to undertake using the existing material on the claimant's file and the information provided in the claim form. The claim cannot be finalised until the signed claim form is received.

NOTE:  Do not seek any information from external agencies or medical professionals until a signed claim form is received.

Date of Lodgement

The date of lodgement for claim forms received without a signature is the date the form is originally received by DVA, and not the date the signed form is received.

Informal Claims (VEA)

A form received without a signature is not an informal claim for the purposes of the VEA.  An informal claim is a claim received in the form of a written document other than in accordance with an approved form and is treated differently.  See Departmental Instruction C39/97 for information on informal VEA claims.

Under the SRCA and the MRCA there is no distinction between an informal claim or a formal claim. There is but one claim made on an approved form and the claim must be signed by the person entitled to claim before any determination of liability or compensation is made.

What if the claimant has died?

If the claimant has died without signing his or her claim form and another person exists who is legally authorised, or can be approved by the Commission, to sign on the claimant's behalf, section 126 VEA, section 55 SRCA or section 321 MRCA applies.

What if the person has already provided the information required?

The signature on the claim form provides the claimant's authority to obtain any information about them that is required for processing the claim.  If the person provides with their form detailed information addressing their claim, it may appear that their signature is not required.

However, it is important to always obtain the person's signature, or the signature of a person legally authorised to sign on their behalf, whether or not it appears that it is required, because circumstances can arise during the processing of the claim that are not evident when it is received.  An example of this is if the person has received compensation through another source, details of which are required for offsetting purposes.

What if the claim form has been faxed or scanned?

It is important to note that while a scanned signature can be accepted as authentic, for a form to be taken to be lodged it must be lodged in accordance with section 5T VEA, section 54 SRCA or section 323 MRCA.  Current requirements for electronic lodgement are that only forms faxed to numbers specified in instruments number 2005/R28 (VEA) and an instrument made under section 323 of the MRCA are considered to be lodged.  This means that where someone is lodging a form, it cannot be scanned and emailed.

If a faxed form which has been otherwise correctly lodged via fax is not signed, the Delegate must process it in the same way as forms that have been sent in hard copy without a signature.

Contact

Any enquiries about this Instruction or clarification on this issue should be directed to Veterans' Compensation Policy Section at the ACT location.

Sean Farrelly

National Manager

Compensation Policy Group