Important changes to Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA)
RSL Australia has welcomed changes to the way veterans can access income support from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. RSL Australia recommended changes to improve access to rental assistance in its submission to the 2021 Senate inquiry regarding TPI payments.
From 1 January 2022, the Disability Compensation Payment (formerly known as Disability Pension) became exempt from the income test under the Social Security Act 1991. The means test imposed on Rent Assistance for certain veterans and dependants has been removed and those veterans are now eligible for Rent Assistance, or an increased rate of Rent Assistance effective from 1 January 2022. Centrelink payments such as the Age Pension will increase as a result, removing the need for DFISA.
RSL Australia’s submission took into account the detailed research and recommendations made by the Productivity Commission, KPMG Review of TPI Benefits, and Independent Review into the TPI Payment by David Tune AO PSM.
The current payment rate was found to be reasonable when considering the additional benefits that veterans on TPI qualify for, such as Centrelink payments and other DVA allowances. However, RSL Australia’s submission also recommended that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs make every effort to provide more support to TPI veterans in relation to rehabilitation and other services, and that thorough research be done on the overall wellbeing of TPI veterans.
Those who had previously received DFISA found that on the first payday of 2022, 13 January, part of the DFISA payment was reduced. On payday 27 January, there will be no DFISA paid. However, social security payments from Centrelink will increase accordingly.
The part payment on 13 January is because the effective date of 1 January falls in the middle of a pay period. As Centrelink paydays differ for each person, they do not align with DVA veteran paydays. Veterans can check pay day amounts in their Centrelink online account and their DVA MyService account.
Veterans and their partners do not need to take any action, as the payments will be made automatically.
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. The DVA has apologised for any distress this may have caused.
Further information can be found on the DFISA page of the DVA website under What’s New.