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7.12.1 Compensation for Funeral Expenses
Last amended: 14 July 2014
What constitutes a 'funeral'?
A 'funeral' means a ceremony held in connection with the disposition of the body of a deceased person. Accordingly, aside from a few exceptional circumstances, only one funeral can be held for each accepted death.
One exception to this rule may be where a funeral does not include the disposition of the body because the body of the deceased person has not been recovered.
Compensation for funeral expenses is a one-off payment to assist with the costs of a funeral where:
- liability for the member's death has been accepted under the MRCA; or
- the deceased member satisfied the criteria for receiving a Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) under the MRCA during some period of his or her life; or
- the deceased member was assessed at 80 impairment points or more immediately before their death.
Note: Funerals of persons who were full time serving members at the time of death are generally conducted at the ADF's expense. This is a condition of service and a determination under the MRCA should not be required in those cases.
If a dependant of a deceased member meeting the above criteria dies in indigent circumstances, a benefit in respect of the funeral expenses of the dependant may also be granted under the provisions contained in s100(1A) of the VEA. Refer to CLIK for additional information in this respect
Comp and Support policy library
Claims for funeral expenses
Funeral expenses can only be compensated where a claim has been made. A claim can only be made either:
- on behalf of a dependant of the deceased member (where the dependant incurred the cost of the funeral); or
- by the deceased member's legal personal representative.
Amount payable for funeral expenses
There is a maximum amount payable for funeral expenses which is indexed annually and is based on the veteran's date of death. The rates can be accessed in CLIK via the following link.
Within that limit, the MRCA requires the Commission to determine what amount is reasonable in the particular circumstances. The MRCA specifies that only the following can be taken into account in this determination:
- the charges ordinarily made for funerals in the place that the funeral is carried out; and
- any amount paid or payable for the funeral under any other law of the Commonwealth.
Note that the second consideration is limited to what is payable under another law of the Commonwealth. It does not apply in a situation where, as happened following the 2009 bushfires in Victoria, ex-gratia payments were made by the Commonwealth Government to assist with funeral expenses. That is because those ex-gratia payments were not made under any law of the Commonwealth.
A payment will generally be payable only once for each accepted death. However, this payment can be split between multiple recipients if more than one person incurred a cost connected with the funeral, as long as the maximum payment is not exceeded for that funeral.
Payment of funeral expenses
Although the list of persons who can claim for reimbursement of funeral expenses is limited, the payment can be made to:
- the person who made the claim; or
- if the claimant so directs, either to the person who carried out the funeral or to any other person who incurred the cost of the funeral.
Restrictions on dual payment of funeral benefits
A funeral benefit is generally not payable under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) if an entitlement exists to a funeral benefit under the MRCA. The MRCA consequential and transitional provisions provide that in cases of dual entitlement, only the MRCA benefit is payable.
Specifically, subsection 15(5) of the MRC(C&TP) Act 2004 states that if a person has dual eligibility for a funeral benefit under either the VEA or SRCA (as well as the MRCA), then the benefit is to be paid under the MRCA only.
Delegates should also be aware of the requirements of paragraph 267(2)(b) of the MRCA that the Commission is to have regard to any amount payable in respect of the cost of the funeral under any other law of the Commonwealth. Accordingly, delegates should reduce the MRCA funeral benefit amount payable by the amount of other Commonwealth compensation paid in respect of the cost of the funeral.
Where there is dual entitlement under the SRCA and the VEA, the payment of the VEA funeral benefit is to proceed as normal as the SRCA provisions do not preclude dual payment. However, as is the case under paragraph 267(2)(b) of the MRCA, the SRCA provides that in determining a reasonable amount of compensation for funeral expenses, regard must be had to similar payments made under any other law of the Commonwealth (refer to paragraph 18(2)(b)). Payment of the VEA benefit may therefore, as a result, reduce the payment made under the SRCA if the cost of the funeral is less than the statutory limit but in certain situations it may result in the combined SRCA/VEA benefit being greater than that amount. Refer to CLIK via the following link for the rate currently payable under the SRCA