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3.5.6 Reasons for decision
Section 346 of the MRCA requires notification of the original determination in a manner that provides the terms of the determination and the reasons for the determination. Such notification should also contain a statement advising of review options. If dissatisfied with any aspect(s) of the determination you can advise that the client has 12 months from the date of the letter in which to apply for a review.
DVA will screen all requests for review upon receipt and will notify them (and their representative if relevant) once this has occurred. At this point the client will be given an indicative timeframe for completion of the review. Details of the appeal process, including applicable timeframes, and how to provide feedback to DVA or an external organisation can be downloaded via: www.dva.gov.au/appeals. Whether accepting or rejecting a claim, every liability decision must contain a clear rationale.
A good decision is a transparent decision. It must be direct and to the point, but nonetheless, open to scrutiny. All stakeholders should be able understand the evidence and outcome.
Where there is a requirement to assess and weigh the evidence, it is important to provide an explanation of findings or why certain evidence is preferred. If accepting a claim the relationship between the condition for which liability has been accepted and the person's Defence service should be clear.
As a general rule the reasons should refer to the condition claimed, contention, diagnosis, evidence considered, standard of proof applied, and why the injury, disease or death is or is not related to service. All administrative decision makers are charged with making a lawful and justifiable decision on the merits of the case. This also applies to reconsiderations and any other subsequent review.
MRCA SINGLE APPEAL PATHWAY
All MRCA original determinations made on or after 1 January 2017 will have a single appeal pathway for review of original determinations. This single appeal pathway will be through the Veterans Review Board (VRB) and applications to the VRB must be lodged no more than 12 months from the day a client receives the original decision.
Prior to 1 January 2017 claimants have an option for a reconsideration under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) or an appeal with the VRB. For original determinations made under the MRCA prior to 1 January 2017 clients continue to have a choice to have the decision initially reviewed by the VRB or the MRCC. In the case of original determinations made prior to 1 January 2017 clients must lodge an appeal with the VRB no more than 12 months from the day they receive the original decision. A request to have the MRCC reconsider an original decision must be lodged in writing within 30 days of receiving the decision.
A client may request a review under section 347 of the MRCA, The department will do an initial screening of the case (this will be done for all appeals to the VRB) and a decision to intervene with a formal s347 will be made. This replicates the process for appeals under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986.
Amendments to the MRCA in commencing 1 January 2017 enable the AAT to remit a matter to the MRCC rather than the VRB where additional relevant information was provided to the AAT that was not presented to or could have been provided to the VRB without unreasonable expense or inconvenience. The MRCC must consider the decision within 28 days and the MRCC must either affirm, vary or set aside the decision. If the MRCC has not reconsidered the decision within the 28 day period, the MRCC is taken to have affirmed the decision and the application to the AAT continues.
Award of Costs
Legislative amendments commencing 1 January 2016 provide that costs will not be awarded to a claimant if new documentary evidence is presented that could have been provided to the VRB without unreasonable expense or inconvenience and the AAT is satisfied the VRB would have made a more favourable decision. The use of this power is at the discretion of the AAT.