Defence Force Members
If you need a lawyer to help secure your entitlements, register online here and we’ll contact you, or call us on (08) 8212 1077 (nationally).
Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Claims
Our military compensation lawyers have significant experience in advising current and former Australian Defence Members who have been injured during the course of their service. Our specialist team is passionate about protecting the rights of Defence Members.
As a Defence Member, you have various entitlements to compensation if your injury has arisen during or because of your service in the defence force (whether that is in Australia or overseas).
TGB’s military compensation team is led by Partner Tim White, who is a current serving Reserve Legal Officer.
Our firm has assisted clients who have served in World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, East Timor conflict, Iraq War, Afghanistan War and other conflicts.
The legislation that covers your particular circumstances will be determined by whether the injuries have arisen in Australia or overseas, and when the injury occurred. Accordingly, there are several different pieces of legislation that could be applicable to your circumstances.
Since 1 July 2004, claims for military compensation are handled by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, via the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Injuries arising on or after 1 July 2004 are covered by theMilitary Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).
For members who have sustained an injury on or after December 1988, entitlements to compensation are covered by theSafety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA). Again, the DVA are responsible for managing claims under this Act.
A Defence Force Member under the MRCA or SRCA is entitled to claim for:
- Lost wages (ie base wage, allowances, penalty payments etc.)
- Medical expenses (ie medication, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, surgery costs, consultations with doctors, rehabilitation costs, etc)
- Lump sum payment for permanent disability (which is currently not taxed)
- Household assistance costs
- Rehabilitation costs (eg re-training – university/TAFE courses, computer training etc. – associated costs with working towards alternative work opportunities)
- Lump sum payment for dependent spouse
What period of work time am I covered for?
- During lunch or other authorised breaks
- Whilst travelling to or from work
- At a work function (even on a weekend or outside “normal working hours”)
- Whilst travelling to an approved work activity
- Whilst participating in an approved sporting activity.
- During a work training session.
- When travelling to and/or from medical treatment for a work injury (Here is a recent court decision on this issue).
What type of injuries are covered?
Numerous types of injuries are covered by the MRCA or SRCA including physical injuries to your neck, back, arms, legs, teeth, jaw, head, etc. The legislation also covers numerous medical conditions including heart problems, cancer, dermatitis, respiratory problems, stroke, psychiatric conditions, and others.
What if my partner dies during military service?
If a defence member dies as a consequence of his or her service, a dependent spouse is entitled to lump sum compensation. Often this claim is not straightforward and if you are unfortunate enough to be in this situation, you should seek legal advice.
Is there a time limit?
The applicable legislation is complex and strict time limits that apply. If you do not comply with the time limits your entitlements may be adversely affected. We will provide you with advice that is in your best interests.
Am I entitled to a lump sum payment?
If you sustain a permanent disability as a result of a work injury you may be entitled to a lump sum payment. Assessing a lump sum payment can be complicated. It is usually only paid once, so it is therefore important to seek legal advice about this claim. It is also a payment that is not taxed. As an example, a 10 percent assessment for permanent impairment equates to a lump sum payment of approximately $30,000.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is responsible for managing compensation entitlements for Defence Members. The DVA has offices in every State and Territory of Australia.
Veterans’ Entitlement Act 1975
Defence Members who have sustained an injury whilst undertaking operational service, peacekeeping service and other recognised service overseas are entitled to compensation as set out in the Veterans’ Entitlement Act 1986 (VEA). This Legislation provides for compensation to an injured Defence Member and/or widow.
If you are injured or suffer a disease that was contracted during the relevant service you may be entitled to a claim for:
- Medical expenses
- Disability pension (which is payable on a fortnightly basis, potentially for the remainder of your life)
- Rehabilitation costs
- Discounted or free medication
- Assistance with household/domestic duties
What injuries are covered and is there a time limit?
The Legislation covers a wide variety of physical injuries, diseases and psychological injuries.
Claims under this Legislation are complicated and time limits do apply.
If your claim is initially rejected by the DVA you can appeal that decision to the Veterans’ Review Board.
If your claim is rejected by the Veterans’ Review Board you are able to file an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. You should seek assistance from a lawyer when appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
Disputing a decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
We specialise in advising Defence Members and their families (when necessary) in disputing decisions of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to the AAT. This can be a complex process and often involves technical legal points. Accordingly, it is important to seek advice from a lawyer who specialises in this area of work.
We regularly represent Defence Members at the AAT and have been doing so for a long period of time.
Our firm has settled an extensive number of claims and has run numerous cases to trial when necessary.
If you need help with taking a dispute to the AAT, register online here or call lawyer Tim White on (08) 8212 1077.