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12.1.3 Power to Impose Obligations


The Secretary has the power to place an obligation on a person in relation to service pension, veteran payment and ISS matters. An obligation can require a person to inform the Department of an event or change in circumstances that has occurred or is likely to occur.    

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Obligation to obtain a comparable foreign pension or payment


The Secretary can also place an obligation on a service pensioner, veteran payemnt or ISS recipient that requires them to take action to obtain a comparable foreign pension or payment if they may be entitled to one.    

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Delegation of Secretary's power to impose an obligation


The Secretary is able to delegate his powers to an officer or employee of the APS. This delegation must be in writing. A person who sends a notice to a person must have the Secretary's delegation to do so, and the notice must be signed by that person as Delegate of the Secretary.    

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Who can obligations be imposed upon?




A s54 obligations notice can only be imposed on:

  • a recipient of service pension, veteran payment or ISS,
  • a person who is receiving all or part of a service pension, veteran payment or ISS on behalf of another person, for that person's benefit (such as a trustee[glossary:),:]
  • a person whose claim or application for service pension, veteran payment or ISS is being considered by the Commission or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and
  • a person who is receiving fringe benefits or service pension treatment benefits.




Power to impose obligations

Chapter 12.2


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Obtaining a foreign pension

Chapter 3.7


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Section 54(1) VEA - re a person who has lodged a claim for, or is in receipt of, SP or ISS, or a person receiving benefits under Division 12

Section 54(2) VEA - re a person receiving SP or ISS on behalf of a pensioner


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A service pension is an income support payment broadly equivalent to the social security age and disability support pensions. It may be paid once a veteran or partner has reached the nominated age or is incapacitated for work.

ISS is an income support payment that may be paid to eligible war widows and widowers under the VEA and persons receiving wholly dependent partners' compensation under the MRCA, and who satisfy the means tests. It is an indexed rate, increased twice-yearly in March and September in line with changes to the cost of living and/or average wages. Income Support Supplement (ISS) legislation commenced on 20 March 1995. It is a payment created to replace the ceiling rate income support age, carer, wife and disability support pensions, paid to war widows/widowers by Centrelink.



Trustee has two meanings depending on the context, (i) and (ii).

(i) a person who looks after someone else's affairs

According to section 202 of the VEA, a trustee is a person appointed by the Commission to administer the financial affairs of a pensioner who may be incapable of managing their own affairs for reasons such as:

  • age,
  • infirmity,
  • ill health, or
  • improvidence.

These criteria include circumstances where a pensioner has a psychiatric disorder or a mental illness as a result of alcohol or drug addiction.

A trustee can be appointed, with or without the consent of the pensioner and once appointed, a trustee has full control of the pension payment.

(ii) a person responsible for administration of a trust

According to section 52ZO of the VEA, trustee has the same meaning as in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.