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4.2 Authority to Impose an Obligation Under the VEA
4.2.1 — The authority to impose an obligation is contained in the following sections of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).
4.2.2Section 54 VEA gives the Secretary the power to place an obligation on a person in relation to income support pension matters. These obligations include the requirement to notify of a change in circumstances or any event that will affect the rate of payment (e.g. divorce, loss of custody of a child) within 14 days (or 28 days if the person lives overseas or receives remote area allowance).
4.2.3Section 54A VEA gives the Secretary authority to require a pensioner to provide information which may affect the payment of income support pension, fringe benefits or treatment. This request may be made using departmental forms, such as the Statement of Circumstances Form (D2589).
4.2.4Section 54AA VEA gives the Secretary authority to require an income support pensioner to provide information, produce documents or appear before an officer of the Department relating to matters that might affect their pension.
4.2.5Section 127 VEA requires notification by a pensioner of change of circumstances which may affect payment and also lists the penalties for false/misleading statements in the terms of fines or jail terms, but it no longer has an enforceable pension impact. That is, this section does not enable an enforceable change to the rate of pension. For more information refer to this manual's Section 4.13 Notification Provisions Post Assets Test – Pre VEA.
4.2.6Section 128 VEA gives the authority to obtain information from non-pensioners or pensioners, for the purpose of investigation. A section 128 VEA notice should NOT be issued to a pensioner unless the pensioner is a third party in respect of an investigation being carried out on another pensioner. In accordance with section 129 VEA, a notice under section 128 VEA is not admissible in evidence against a pensioner in any criminal proceedings, unless those proceedings are for an offence under section 128 VEA. Information requested from a disability pensioner who is not in receipt of service pension or age pension should be sought under section 31 VEA, section 32 VEA or section 127 VEA.
4.2.7Section 214 VEA deals with the delegation of the Secretary's authority. Under the VEA only the Secretary may issue an enforceable notice. However, this section provides that a valid notice may be issued by a person who has the Secretary's delegated authority. When issuing an obligation notice, the notice must be signed by an officer as a “Delegate of the Secretary”.
4.2.8 — Any officer who needs to send a notice to a person under section 54 VEA, section 128 VEA, or section 54A VEA must have the Secretary's delegated authority to do so. To be valid, the notice must be signed by that person as a Delegate of the Secretary. An incorrect delegation will invalidate the request i.e. quoting “Delegate of the Repatriation Commission” when the authority is the Secretary of the Department.
Note:Section 54 VEA and section 54A VEA are important because the question of whether a person has or has not met their obligations under the VEA is basic to most decisions to reduce or cancel income support pension. If a person has not met their obligations a decision to reduce or cancel pension usually results in a recoverable overpayment. If a person has met their obligations, the VEA specifies the date for the pension reduction/cancellation, however, the delegate does have the discretion to waive the overpayment under the waiver guidelines.