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Tribunal: Deputy President P Britten-Jones

The AAT set aside a decision of the Veterans’ Review Board (the Board) refusing to increase the applicant’s general pension. The applicant had severe disabilities affecting his lifestyle entitling him to an increased pension amount.

Veterans who meet certain conditions, which include advancing age and severe injury, are paid an increased pension amount if they are extremely disabled by their service-related injuries. The applicant met all the criteria for the increase, except for one relating to how severely his injuries affected his lifestyle.

His application was considered by the AAT a second time after he successfully appealed to the Federal Court and the decision was sent back to the AAT. In returning the application to the AAT, the court criticised the Tribunal for not giving reasons when deciding the applicant’s lifestyle was not disadvantaged enough to qualify for an increased pension.

The effects of impairment on a person’s lifestyle are determined by reference to four parts of a veteran’s life: personal relationships, mobility, recreational and community activities, and employment and domestic activities.

The AAT assessed the applicant as having extreme difficulty relating to anyone as a result of his post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression. His personal relationships were severely affected and mostly of a low quality. His mobility was majorly affected although not severely. Recreationally, he was now restricted to a few passive activities in the home such as listening to the news, reading the paper and watching television. Domestically, he could only carry out very limited activities and was completely dependent on his wife around the house.

Collectively, the effects of his medical conditions on his lifestyle were severely disadvantaging him.

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