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War Widow's/Widower's Pension and Orphan's Pension Claims

Last amended 
16 June 2022


Last amended: June 2022


Who can lodge a claim?


A claim for war widow(er)'s pension or orphan's pension can be made by a:

  •  widow, or
  •  widower,
  • an other dependant, or
  • another person on behalf of, and with the approval of, the widow(er) or dependant, or
  • a person approved by Commission where the widower or dependant is unable to approve a person to act on their behalf due to physical or mental incapacity.
Who can lodge a claim for a child under 18 years?

A claim for orphan's pension for a child under 18 years of age must be made by:

  • the child's parent or guardian, or by another person authorised by the parent or guardian, or
  • a person approved by Commission if there is not a parent or guardian alive, willing or able to make the claim or approve a person to make the claim.    


Multiple dependant relationships

A veteran may have more than one person as a ‘widow’ or dependent spouse for the purposes of a war widow's/widower's pension. This is due to the operation of sections 11 and 11A. The Report of the Review on Veterans’ Entitlements 2003 (Clarke report) acknowledged that multiple dependent relationships may exist where a person is married to but separated from a veteran, and that veteran was living in another marriage-like relationship at the time of their death. This has also been considered in Tribunals, but again, these cases only considered a separated married partner and another relationship (see Wharton and Repatriation Commission (4 March 1997), and in particular at [11] where the Tribunal found that s11 clearly ‘makes provisions for more than one person being entitled to a pension’ ).


Generally, while a veteran may form multiple partnered relationships that meet the definition of dependency under s11 of the VEA, careful consideration would need to be given in situations where a veteran’s relationships include multiple defacto partners. The nature of defacto relationships is set out in s11A and requires a level of dependency, commitment and cohabitation that would be hard to be established in more than one relationship. In the same vein, where an applicant to the war widow's/widower's pension is found to be residing in Australia on a temporary basis (such as those on tourist visas) then Delegates must carefully consider whether the criteria of dependency can be adequately satisfied given the transient and provisional nature of the applicant’s living arrangements in Australia.

Proof of relationship to a deceased veteran

Claimants for war widow(er)'s pension or orphan's pension may have to provide proof of their relationship with the deceased veteran.    



Requirements of a claim for war widow(er)'s or orphan's pension

A claim for war widow(er)'s or orphan's pension will require investigation of the veteran's medical condition prior to death and their service record. The claim should include the following information:

  • the deceased veterans' name,
  • details of the veteran's service,
  • the names of any doctors and hospitals who treated the veteran,
  • reasons why the claimant believes the veteran's service caused or contributed to their death,
  • information about other dependants.

Death Certificates

Generally, in order for a determination to be made regarding a bereaved family’s eligibility for compensation, there must be sufficient evidence to:

  • prove that the veteran has died and 
  • establish a cause of death. 

In most cases, a death certificate must be supplied to satisfy these requirements.

However, in some very specific circumstances involving significant delays in the availablility of a death certificate, a claim may be determined using alternative evidence.  These circumstances are set out here.

Automatic grant of pension for certain dependants exempt from requirement to lodge a claim

A war widow(er) or orphan will be automatically granted pension if:

  • they were dependant on the deceased veteran, and
  • the veteran was:
  • a former prisoner of war, or
  • receiving the Extreme Disablement Adjustment, or    More
  • receiving a Disability Compensation Payment at the Intermediate rate, or
  • receiving a Disability Compensation Payment at an increased rate due to being a double amputee, or blinded or    More 
  • receiving a Disability Compensation Payment at the Temporary Special Rate, or
  • receiving a Disability Compensation Payment at the Special Rate (T&PI).    More 

In such a situation, war widow(er)'s or orphan's pension will be granted without an application being lodged or a determination being madeand the pension is payable from and including the day after the veteran died. Where a veteran has died as a result of a disability already accepted as being caused by war or eligible defence service, the death will be determined to be war or defence caused. In these circumstances a claim for pension still needs to be lodged with the Department.