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7.3 Death Certificates
Last amended: 1 April 2020
A death certificate is a mandatory requirement for death compensation claims. Determinations relating to death compensation cannot be made in the absence of a death certificate except where:
- the death occurs on service and results from an occurrence. In this case the Certificate of Death on Service and other Defence Department statements may be sufficient.
- The final death certificate is significantly delayed due to the involvement of the Coroner and the case meets certain specific eligibility and evidentiary requirements for a determination in the absence of the final coroner’s report as set out at Claims Awaiting Coroner’s Findings.
- The case involves the automatic grant of death benefits. As cause of death is not required to be established for automatic grant cases (eg the deceased was in receipt of TPI or 80+ points under MRCA), it is proposed that the minimum evidence requirement in automatic grant cases is an interim death certificate or notice from the treating physician confirming the death has occurred.
In other circumstances, no determination about compensation for death may be made unless the delegate has been provided with a copy of the death certificate. This is mandatory for death claims. Death certificates are essential for three reasons:
- To validate the actual fact of the member's/former member's death;
- to provide the legal underpinning to any determination on compensation; and
- Because of its status as the official medical opinion on the cause of death (which of course must be demonstrated to derive from a service-related cause).
The provision of a death certificate to validate a claim is analogous to the provision of a medical report confirming a diagnosis of an injury or disease for other classes of claim.
It is usually quicker for the claimant to acquire a copy of the death certificate than other forms of evidence. Delegates should, however, provide reasonable assistance particularly where the dependant/claimant is either distressed or under some difficulty in sourcing the documentation (eg is a child).