Being medically discharged from the Australian Defence Force seems to be occurring with increased frequency. I speak with current and former defence force members on a weekly basis who have been medically discharged for a large array of injuries. Most often this is due to serious physical injuries but very frequently a psychological condition exists as well. Military duty takes its toll on people.
Once you walk out the front gate for the last time you are on your own, in the sense that you are no longer going to receive an income from the Department of Defence from that point onwards. Thankfully, there are several avenues of recourse to replace that lost income. To protect you and your family’s financial stability it is important to take action and make any necessary claims well before your discharge date.
What might I be entitled to?
If you are medically discharged you should be entitled to weekly payments from the DVA and also a pension from the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation. These are two completely separate offices, and you will have to file different paperwork with each of them. They also both have very different criteria for determining if you are entitled to any compensation. What you put on your claim forms for these two entities and the information you attach to them will greatly influence the likelihood of your claims being successful.
It is therefore important to seek legal advice as early as possible before submitting your claims. If you have informed advice, you will know what the relevant criteria for successful claims is and also what information should or should not be provided. Getting legal advice at this early stage should also ensure your claims are dealt with more quickly.
Ideally, you will want to be in a position where there is no gap between when your ADF wage ceases and when your payments from the DVA and/or Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation commence.
Can I be compensated for my medical expenses?
Under the DVA scheme it is not just wages that are payable, you also will be covered for medical expenses in relation to injuries they have accepted. When you leave the ADF, medical expenses are your responsibility. But in relation to injuries accepted by the DVA, medical treatment for those will be covered.
Permanent impairment compensation
The DVA scheme will also potentially make a permanent impairment payment. This can often be considerable, especially if you are being medically discharged. If you have an impairment of 10 or more points, you are entitled to a lump sum payment. I assist many defence force members and veterans that receive lump sum payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The lump sum claim process is complex, especially if you have multiple injuries, and it is important that you maximise the amount payable as it is usually only paid once. This payment is also tax free.
Thankfully, there are avenues to replace the income you will lose from the Australian Defence Force once you are medically discharged. There is a fair bit of work involved in making these claims and ensuring you receive the compensation you are entitled to. Seek the advice of an experienced military compensation lawyer as early as possible, and give yourself the best chance of a positive outcome, as quickly as possible.
Get in Touch!
To discuss anything in this article, or if you believe you may be eligible for military compensation and would like help with your compensation claim, please contact TGB partner Tim White. Tim is a member of the Royal Australian Airforce Reserves, and specialises in military compensation claims.
Tim and his team advise Defence Force members and veterans across Australia on their entitlement to military compensation.