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6.4.1 Eligibility for the VAS
There are several factors which must be considered when determining a veteran’s eligibility for participation in the VAS. The first consideration is whether the veteran satisfies one of the categories of disability under subsection 105(5) of the VEA. The second is whether the veteran will derive benefit from assistance under the VAS.
1. Type of Incapacity
Under subsection 105(5) of the VEA, a veteran is eligible to participate in the VAS if they are incapacitated from war-caused injury or war-caused disease due to:
- Amputation of both legs above the knee; or
- Amputation of one leg above the knee and, in addition:
- Amputation of the other leg at or above the ankle and amputation of one arm at or above the wrist; or
- Amputation of both arms at or above the wrists; or
- Complete paraplegia resulting in the total loss of voluntary power in both legs (even with the assistance of surgical or therapeutic measures); or
- A condition that is similar in effect or severity.
Note: Under the VAS a leg that is wholly or permanently useless above the knee is treated as an amputation above the knee.
Delegates should seek the opinion of the Departmental Medical Officer when considering whether a condition can be regarded as being similar in effect or severity to an amputation or complete paraplegia.
2. Can the veteran derive benefit from assistance under the Scheme?
To be eligible for an initial or replacement vehicle, the veteran must be capable of deriving benefit from assistance under the VAS. The criteria to be used to determine if a veteran will derive benefit depends on the type of grant the veteran is seeking (initial or replacement) and whether the veteran can drive the vehicle. The various criteria to determine a veteran’s capacity to derive benefit can be found under Part 3 of the VAS instrument and are summarised below.
A veteran who can drive
A veteran who can drive and is seeking an initial or replacement vehicle:
- must be regarded as being able to benefit directly from using the vehicle; and
- must hold a valid driver’s licence; and
- must be able to drive the motor vehicle in reasonable comfort and safety; and
- must drive the motor vehicle regularly.
The VAS delegate must request evidence that the veteran has a current valid driver’s licence before the VAS vehicle can be approved.
It is important that if the veteran is frail or unwell, and therefore likely to be unable to drive in the foreseeable future, that a driver trained OT assessment is conducted. This will enable evidence to be gathered about issues relating to the veteran's ability to continue to derive benefit from participating in the scheme.
A veteran who cannot drive
A veteran who cannot drive and is seeking an initial vehicle can be regarded as being able to derive benefit only if:
- they have a partner or carer who:
- holds a valid driver’s licence; and
- is willing and able to drive the motor vehicle; and
- they are capable of being readily transported in the motor vehicle; and
- they will be transported in the motor vehicle regularly by the person’s partner or carer.
If the VAS vehicle is a replacement vehicle, there is no requirement that the veteran will continue to be able to be regularly transported in the vehicle. However, the delegate must be satisfied that the partner or carer is willing and able to drive the vehicle and will regularly drive the motor vehicle to visit the eligible veteran at the veteran's permanent or temporary place of residence.
It is vital, in this context, that a VAS delegate is able to be satisfied, not only that a vehicle provided through VAS is appropriate and manageable for the veteran's partner or carer, but that it is a vehicle that they will be willing and able to drive into the future.
For example: a veteran is in poor health and is going through the process of being assessed for residential aged care. The client's partner has a preference for a smaller vehicle than the veteran. A driver trained OT assessment confirms that the veteran can be transported in safety and reasonable comfort in a smaller vehicle in the foreseeable future. The OT recommends a vehicle that the veteran's partner is willing to drive once the veteran is no longer able to live independently, or able to be transported in the vehicle. It is important in this instance that the delegate is satisfied that the intention of the VAS will be met, and the veteran will be able to derive benefit from the VAS vehicle.
The VAS delegate must request evidence that the carer or partner has a current valid driver’s licence before the VAS vehicle can be approved.
After the eligibility requirements have been satisfied, the specific conditions related to the specific type of grant (initial vehicle, replacement vehicle or driving devices and modifications) should be considered.
 For the purposes of Part VI of the VEA, a reference to a veteran is taken to be a reference to:
•a veteran as defined in subsection 5C(1) of the VEA;
•a member of the Forces as defined in subsection 68(1) of the VEA; or
•a member of a Peacekeeping Force as defined in subsection 68(1) of the VEA.
For the purposes of Part VII of the VEA, according to subsection 5C(1), veteran means a person (including a deceased person):
•who is taken to have rendered eligible war service, or
•in respect of whom a pension is, or pensions are, payable under subsection 13(6) and
•in Part III and Part VIIC of the VEA includes a person who is:
•a Commonwealth veteran, or
•an allied veteran, or
•an allied mariner.