Bungled communications leave disabled veterans feeling short-changed and looking for answers
Mark Schroffel – Australian Veteran News
AVN understands that a breakdown in communications is to blame for confusion and distress caused by reduced DVA pensions paid to some disabled veterans on the 13th of January pension day. The issue relates to inadequate communication to pensioners affected by the cessation of Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DIFSA).
DIFSA was a payment made to disabled veterans to offset reduced social security income support payments because of the income test associated with what is known as the Adjusted Disability Pension (Adjusted DP).
Parliament passed legislation on 2 December 2021 to exempt Disability Compensation Payments (formerly known as Disability Pension) from the income test under the Social Security Act 1991 removing the need for DFISA payments as of 1 January 2022 as the social security payments, such as the Disability Support Pension, are increased by the amount previously paid as DFISA.
A key issue is that Centrelink paydays can be different to DVA paydays meaning that payments of entitlements are now likely to be staggered split between DVA paydays and Centrelink paydays.
It appears that communication for the change has not been effectively handled, and at the time of writing no further announcements have been made by DVA or Centrelink on the matter.
In an email seen by AVN addressed to member organisations of DVA’s Ex-service Organisation Round Table (ESORT), Acting Secretary DVA, Vicki Rundle said:
Unfortunately, some of the letters advising of the changes to veterans were delayed, meaning some veterans did not receive a personal explanation as to why their DFISA payment had been reduced prior to 13 January.
We are sorry for any distress this has caused veterans and their families.
RSL Australia has assured AVN that they are working with DVA to ensure no veteran will be out of pocket.
The office of Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Andrew Gee, was quick to respond to AVN’s enquiry on the matter and have indicated that they are investigating the issue and have promised an update within the next 24 hours.
While this may well turn out to be a seemingly innocent hiccup in communications, the consequences of this can be devastating. Especially for those feeling vulnerable about their finances, relying on every dollar as and when they come in.