|The War Widows Pension is not granted automatically to every Legacy Widow – there are only three instances where this will automatically happen. |
- Firstly, if the Veteran was receiving a TPI (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated) Pension.
- Secondly, if the veteran was in receipt of a Disability Pension at the rate of 150% - this is known as an EDA (Extreme Disablement Allowance) Pension. N.B. a Disability Pension of 100% does not guarantee an automatic granting of a War Widows pension. Should a veteran die from the accepted disability then usually there is no problem with the granting of the pension.
- Thirdly, if the Veteran was a Prisoner–of–War serving in the Australian Forces.
|CAUSES OF DEATH|
|The Cause of Death as shown on the Death Certificate is our starting point for a Claim. |
If a Veteran was receiving a ‘Disability Pension’ for certain conditions, and he dies from one of those disabilities, then the WWP is usually granted fairly quickly to the widow.
For a WWP to be successful, we have to link, the Cause of Death back to the War Service of the Veteran. This usually entails obtaining the Service Records of the veteran – we do this by having the widow sign a (FOI) Freedom of Information form and we apply to the Department of Veteran Affairs. Following the receipt of theses documents, they are read, any medical conditions, treatments, or accidents are noted to see if we can tie them in with the Cause of Death. We may then have to write to his local doctor for further information or to the hospital for Medical Records (the widow must authorise these letters) – we interview the widow to obtain her husband’s health history, because she is usually the nearest person alive who can tell us anything. We may also write to family members, friends who knew the veteran.
We make no promises or guarantees to the widow that a Claim will be successful – despite our best efforts some will fail.
|Over the past decade, the Department of Veteran Affairs has issued Statements of Principles for hundreds of diseases and disorders. We commonly refer to these as S.O.P’s, and they are really the ‘bible’ from which the Pensions Committee works.|
Usually there are two S.O.P’s for each disorder:
(1) Reasonable Hypothesis – for veteran with Operational, Peacekeeping or Hazardous Service, and;
(2) Balance of Probabilities - Eligible war service, or Defence Service or other hazardous service.
The Statements of Principles have been issued after extensive research by the RMA (Repatriation Medical Authority) and are legal documents. Section 5 in every S.O.P lists FACTORS to which we have to be able to answer ‘yes’ to at least one of these to make a successful claim. Sometimes we have to think along the lines of possibilities – things that could have happened but we never stretch the truth. They cover many diseases and possible causes of death. These are the rules to which we have to adhere. If we cannot meet at least one of these factors then the Claim will fail – it does not matter how much service the veteran may have had, or how deserving a case we think it is.
|Committee members are usually trained in two ways: |
1. generally working with other experienced members of the Committee, and;
2. attending T.I.P. training sessions (Training and Information Programme).
|Courses are conducted by DVA regularly (but not always in our area) and cover:|
Level 1; Level 2; Refresher Courses; and special Courses on War Widows Pensions and S.O.P’s.
By completing Levels 1 and 2, members of the Committee are then covered by insurance through DVA and/or Legacy and classed as Pensions Officers – until they do these 2 courses they must not sign any completed forms.
|The work of the Pension Committee is interesting and varied – and can be very rewarding especially when we have successful claims. |
We send all our Claims into Sydney Legacy Pensions who check them, before taking the claim directly to the Department of Veteran Affairs. We have a very good relationship with Sydney Legacy Pensions – they are available at all times for advice and help.
If (when) a claim is refused Sydney Legacy will look at it, go to the Department and read the actual file of the Veteran to see if there are other avenues which can be followed up.
If Sydney Legacy thinks there is a possible chance that we may be successful then the widow can make a request to DVA for a Section 31 Review, and then an Appeal to the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB).