An important step in the process of collecting what you are owed by the DVA for you service, is the calculation of permanent impairment points. Permanent impairment points are the DVA’s method of calculating how to remunerate Veterans who have received an injury or disease related their ADF service. If this injury or disease has resulted and impairment that is likely to continue indefinitely, or even if the injury of disease has stabilised, the DVA can offer financial compensation, known as permanent impairment (PI) compensation.
PI compensation is paid in respect of any permanent physical and/or mental impairment in combination with any lifestyle restrictions resulting from the accepted conditions. The amount of compensation provided is calculated through the permanent impairment point system, which gives a PI value to a Veteran’s impairments, and pays compensation accordingly.
How is Permanent Impairment Assessed
Permanent impairment points are assigned to a veteran after a thorough investigation of how their impairment has affected their lifestyle, however, they must first qualify as being permanently impaired by the DVA’s standards.
According to the DVA, permanent impairment is considered to be any service-related injury or illness that is likely to impact your life indefinitely. Permanent impairment is often linked to or associated with a disability, but does not necessarily need to be in order for permanent impairment points to be awarded.
More specifically, permanent impairment according to the DVA is defined as something that significantly alters your ability to care for yourself, work or work in a normal capacity.
This means any injury or disease to an appendage or a bodily system such as the digestive, psychological or reproductive system can be assessed and awarded permanent impairment points.
How Are Permanent Impairment Points Awarded?
As permanent impairment point compensation is intended to help alleviate the financial loss that has come as a result of the individual’s inability to return to work or life as normal, the DVA first has to assess how these factors have been affected by a permanent impairment.
This process starts with a Veteran submitting a permanent impairment claim, which gives the DVA the opportunity to assess whether the Veteran has been permanently impaired according to their standards, known as their Statement of Principles, and whether the impairment is linked with the Veteran’s time in service.
Once the claim for permanent impairment has been approved, the Veteran will have their compensation claim placed under either the DRCA or the MRCA, acts which determine exactly how and what compensation will be given to the Veteran depending on when the impairment was sustained. While both these acts are similar in nature, they do have contain differences when it comes to available benefits and eligibility.
The actual assessment and distribution of your permanent impairment points is also completed at this stage. Permanent impairment points are rated on a scale of 0 to 100 points, associated with minor to total impairment. The impairment rating is then combined with the type of service you were completing at the time of your injury along with a lifestyle rating, from 0 to 7, to determine the compensation payable.
How Much Will I Be Compensated for My Permanent Impairment Points?
Generally the way the DVA has structured the permanent impairment system is so that the more significant your illness or injury and the bigger the impact this has on your lifestyle, the larger the lump sum you can expect to receive in your DVA payout figure. The actual specifics of the payment’s are associated with the legislation that your compensation has been filed under – either the MRCA or the DRCA.
Under the MRCA the DVA payout figures cap out at a maximum weekly benefit of $363.09, with an additional payment for severely impaired veterans with eligible dependants sitting at a lump sum of $93,473.87. All payments under the MRCA can be taken as a lump sum calculated according to age.
Additionally, if your degree of impairment is assessed as being greater than 80% you may also be entitled to additional compensation. This is obtained through the Defence Act 1903 Severe Injury Adjustment (SIA) provision. Paid in addition to the permanent impairment point compensation payment, an SIA payment relates to a specific injury or disease sustained or suffered on or after 10 June 1997.
Decisions regarding payments are final, so it is recommended to seek qualified financial advice before making a decision to ensure you are fully informed. Should you be assessed as being at 50 points or higher on the impairments scale, the costs of seeking advice from a qualified financial advisor can also be claimed back from DVA, meaning that service providers like National Service Financial won’t charge you for their services.
Common Question About Permanent Impairment Points
While some categories of payments from the DVA are taxable, permanent impairment point payouts are tax exempt. This is true for both lump-sum payments or periodic payments, regardless of whether they come via the DRCA or MRCA.
What If I Am Already Receiving Other Financial Support From the DVA?
As permanent impairment point payouts are not counted as income for service pension or ISS purposes, receiving a lump sum or periodic payment will not impact these payments. However, there is an exception to this rule – if you applied for PI payments under the financial hardship rules they will be counted as income, or as an asset under the asset test if taken as a lump sum.
What If My Impairment Gets Worse?
If your impairment gets worse, the DVA permits additional claims for reassessment. Should it be judged that your condition has progressed by more than 10% from the initial determination, additional permanent impairment point payouts may be approved.
What If I Disagree with My Permanent Impairment Point Assessement?
If you feel that the level of compensation awarded in your permanent impairment point payouts so insufficient or that the points attributed to your impairment are incorrect, you are able to appeal the decision with the DVA. A new delegate will be assigned to make a determination on your claim, and the process will be repeated to ensure fairness in the final decision.