Tribunal: Deputy President Dr P McDermott RFD

The applicant served in the Australian Army from 1968 to 1969. He was a member of the Army Reserves until 2014, when he was discharged on an invalidity basis. The applicant had a number of accepted war-caused conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to which he was receiving the disability pension from the Repatriation Commission.

The applicant was receiving a pension at a rate of 80% of the general rate, which was later increased to 90% of the general rate. The applicant applied for review and sought an increase to the intermediate or special rate of pension. Following a review process, which included a Veteran’s Review Board (VRB) and an earlier AAT decision, the applicant’s pension was reduced back to 80% of the general rate. This was the decision under review by the AAT.

There are a number of requirements a veteran must meet to be eligible for the intermediate or special rate of pension. The main issue in this review concerned one requirement, known as the ‘alone test’.[1] This essentially requires the veteran’s war-caused conditions to be the only reason for their incapacity to work. The veteran will not be eligible for the intermediate or special rate if any other conditions that are not war-caused contribute to their inability to work. The reason for this high bar can be attributed to the fact that the special rate of pension is almost three times higher than the general rate and is reserved for a limited category of veterans.[2]

The applicant claimed that he was unable to work solely because of his war-caused conditions: however, the AAT noted that the applicant’s evidence made it clear that there were also other factors that led to him leaving the Army. The AAT concluded that the applicant did not satisfy the requirements to be eligible for the intermediate or special rate of pension, and affirmed the decision under review. 

Read the full decision on AustLII.

 

[1] Section 24(1)(c) and section 23 of the Veterans’ Entitlement  Act 1986 (Cth).

[2] See the AAT’s reference to Repatriation Commission v Richmond (2014) 226 FCR 21 at paragraph 56 of the full decision.