Injured People

Do I need to make a military compensation claim before being medically discharged from the Australian Defence Force?

Tim White writes about important steps to take before being medically discharged from the ADF.

TGB’s Tim White writes about important steps to take before being medically discharged. 


 

This blog is a deeper dive into medical discharge for Australian Defence Force personnel, supplementing my previous post which provided an overview of the medical discharge process. 

What are some of the important steps to take if I am being medically discharged from the ADF? 

In terms of protecting your compensation entitlements, it is vital that any military caused injuries are claimed well prior to you being medically discharged.  Accordingly you should ensure the necessary claim form and medical evidence is completed and forwarded to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), prior to discharge. 

With the claim form it is essential that you attach medical evidence that indicates the injury that you have sustained and how it has been caused or contributed to by the Defence Force.  You should also include sections of your service medical documents or letters from doctors about your injury, or reports from doctors that deal with your injury.  By providing this medical evidence at an early stage it should speed up the process of your claim being considered and determined by the DVA. 

If you have a claim lodged with the DVA which is yet been determined, it is not possible for you to be medically discharged from the military. Your medical discharge is postponed until the DVA have made a decision in regards to your claim. This is particularly important for you to continue receiving income and other entitlements from the Defence Force while your claim is being assessed and then determined by the DVA.

What happens if I do not make a claim with the DVA prior to my medical discharge?

 

If your claim is filed with the DVA after you have been medically discharged there will be a period of time where you will have no income from the military and no payments from the DVA. 

When you are medically discharged from the military you have no ongoing entitlement to receive a salary.  Further, unless your claim has been decided upon by the DVA prior to discharge, you will have no entitlements to weekly payments from the DVA.  This means that unless you can obtain other employment immediately upon being discharged you will have no source of income and no weekly payments. 

Further, you will not be covered for medical expenses after you have discharged if your claim has not been accepted by the DVA.  Accordingly if you are having or wanting ongoing medical treatment you will have to pay for that yourself. If you require surgery or other significant invasive treatment the cost associated with that can obviously be considerable and would have to be paid by you, unless your claim has been accepted by the DVA.

What happens if my claim is accepted?

 

If your claim is accepted prior to medical discharge, you should be paid weekly payments promptly, similar to the amount you were earning while in the military.  These payments are made by the DVA while you are unable to work in a civilian capacity and unable to locate any suitable employment. Sometimes it can take a fairly considerable period of time to find employment after discharging from the military.  Accordingly these weekly payments become important in sustaining some financial independence. 

Medical treatment can also be expensive and unless your claim is accepted by the DVA your medical cost would not be covered once you have discharged.  Also assistance with rehabilitation is highly important after discharging. Rehabilitation services can also be considerable and of great benefit in helping you locate suitable employment. 

Unless your claim is accepted prior to your medical discharge none of these entitlements will be payable to you and you will be left to fund these significant costs yourself. 

It is recommended to seek independent legal advice as early as possible. The medical discharge process is complex and an experienced military compensation lawyer can help you avoid potential traps and receive your full entitlements.

Read more

For more on the different medical classifications, details on medical discharge entitlements, and what to do if you are unsatisfied with the DVA’s assessment, read my previous blog.

If you need any legal help with your claim, register here or contact Tim White at your nearest office below. Tim is specialises in military claims and is a Legal Officer in the Royal Australian Airforce Reserves.

Please note TGB can assist current and former ADF members Australia wide.