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War Widow(er)'s Pension

Legislative Authority

Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986
Section 8 (liability provisions)
5E(1) (definition)
Section 13 (eligibility of partners of veterans and mariners)
Section 18 (duties of Commission in relation to pensions)
Section 19 (determination of claims and applications)
Section 45 (income support supplement)
Section 70 (eligibility of partners of Defence and Peacekeeping Forces)
Section 120 (standard of proof)
Section 120A and 120B (Statements of Principles)


Stated Current Purpose/Intent

To compensate the widow/er of a veteran, member of the Forces, member of a Peacekeeping Force or Australian mariner, whose eligible service has caused or contributed to his or her death.

The widow/er must have been a partner of, or legally married to, an eligible person immediately before the eligible person died.  The eligible person must have:

  • had death determined as war-caused or defence-caused; or
  • died as a result of an injury or disease which is accepted as war-caused or defence-caused; or
  • been in receipt of a Disability Compensation Payment at the special rate; or
  • been in receipt of an extreme disablement adjustment; or
  • been in receipt of temporarily totally incapacitated special rate; or
  • been in receipt of intermediate rate; or
  • been in receipt of a Disability Compensation Payment, increased by one of items 1-8 of section 27 of the VEA; or
  • been a former Australian prisoner of war.



  1. The war widow(er)'s pension is the sum of three amounts. The smaller amount of $25 (prior to 20 March 2008) was fixed and has its origins in the former separate benefit, domestic allowance.  Domestic allowance ceased to exist as a separate payment after the VEA was introduced on 22 May 1986.  The supplement component (increase of 4%) was introduced in July 2000 to compensate pensioners for the effects of the GST.
  2. War widow(er)'s pension is not affected by other income except payments in the nature of compensation. In respect of the death of a veteran, all pensions payable to a dependant may be limited by the amount of compensation paid, or the assessed fortnightly equivalent. Where two or more pensions are subject to these provisions, an orphan's pension is to be limited before a war widow(er)'s pension.


Date of Introduction



Original Purpose/Intent

The original intention has not changed.


Significant Changes in Criteria or Purpose since Introduction


Extension of eligibility to widows of TPI veterans.


Extension to de facto spouses.


Provision to allow war widows who re-married after 29 May 1984 to retain their pensions.


Ceiling placed on the amount of age, carer, wife or disability support pension payable to a war widow/er under the Social Security Act 1991.


Extension of eligibility for the war widow(er)'s pension to widows of EDA recipients.


War widowers placed on an equal basis with war widows under the VEA.


Eligibility for war widow(er)'s pension extended to spouses and partners of former Australian prisoners of war (POWs) in recognition of the trauma of incarceration and ongoing difficulties of re-adjustment experienced by former POWs and their families.


From 1 July 1994, the SWPA Act and Regulations were repealed and Australian mariners became eligible under the VEA on the same basis as veterans.


Income support supplement for eligible war widows and widowers became payable by Veterans' Affairs.


Automatic grant of war widow(er)'s pension extended to cases where the veteran died as a result of a disability already accepted as being war-caused or defence-caused.


War widow(er)'s pension linked to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) to retain its parity to single rate service pension.


Pensioners received a supplement of 4% of their pension  from 1 July 2000 to compensate for the effects of the GST.  This supplement is treated separately from the pension and is indexed in line with increases in the CPI.


War widow(er)'s pension restored to war widows who had their pensions cancelled due to remarriage prior to 1984.


Rent assistance commenced to be payable in addition to the ceiling rate of Veterans' Affairs income support paid to war widows and widowers.


From 1 July 2008, the backdating provisions for war widow(er)'s pension was extended from 3 months to 6 months.


From 20 March 2008, the formerly non-indexed component of war widow(er)'s pension of $25 was increased by $10 and subject to the same indexation as the indexed component (pension factor). On 20 March 2008, the new rate was $35.60.

From 1 July 2008, the 2008-09 Budget Measures extended the automatic granting of the war widow(er)'s pension to the widows and widowers of veterans who were in receipt of the temporarily totally incapacitated special rate and intermediate rate of Disability Compensation Payment at the time of the veteran's death.


Same sex partners of veterans treated the same as opposite sex defacto partners.


From 1 October 2010, new claimants who have entered a defacto relationship prior to claiming are no longer eligible for the war widow(er)'s pension.  This measure ensures claimants in defacto relationships are treated the same as married claimants.


Clean energy advance payable for the period 1 July 2012 to 19 March 2013 for eligible recipients.


Clean energy supplement commenced 20 March 2013 for eligible recipients.


Clean energy supplement replaced by energy supplement from 20 September 2014.