What disability supports can I access as a veteran?

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) offers a range of supports and services to veterans with disability.

Key points

  • The Department of Veterans’ Affairs offers many forms of disability support and funding
  • If you are a veteran you may be eligible for these supports, even if you would not qualify for supports under the National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • It’s important to know what is available through the DVA so that you can access supports from the best source possible

Many of these services can be funded by other systems instead, like the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or My Aged Care, depending on your eligibility.

However, it is still important to know what the DVA can fund so you can choose the best way to access the supports you need, as each funding system has a different purpose.

This article focuses on the disability-specific supports that may help veterans.

There are other services available through the DVA which might benefit veterans but are not disability-related, visit the DVA website for more information.

In home support

Veterans can access some support to live safely at home through the DVA, although this is not designed to meet complex or high level care needs.

Support funded by the DVA in your home can be for cleaning, shopping, making sure your bills are paid, or a small amount of home and garden maintenance to keep you safe – for example light bulb replacement or gutter cleaning.

In home support is funded as required, but the home and garden maintenance side of it is limited to 15 hours per year.

You will need to make a co-payment towards these services, which is set at $5 an hour but capped at $5 a week for domestic assistance and $75 a year for maintenance.

If this support can’t meet your needs you may be able to get more support through the NDIS or, if you are over the age of 65, My Aged Care.

Personal care

The DVA can fund personal care services for bathing, toileting, grooming, dressing and feeding support.

This care can be provided on a short term basis, for example after a hospital stay, or it can be provided long term, and it requires a co-payment capped at $10 a week.

Only people who have an accepted service-related condition and have been assessed as needing this support can access it.

The DVA can either reimburse you or pay your provider directly, and the cost of the support is capped at a maximum of $514.12 per week, depending on when you served in the defence force and the type of service you worked in.

Therapy and healthcare

The DVA may provide you with funding to access a range of therapists if you hold a Veteran Gold Card or Veteran White Card.

For example, dental care, dietitians, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, and speech pathologists.

You will need to have a referral from your GP to access any specialist or allied health services.

Part of these services can be a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for service-related injuries or conditions.

The plan looks at your physical and social health and can include three types of supports:

  • Medical assistance to help you manage health conditions, treatments, appointments, medication and access to equipment
  • Social support to develop your life management skills, family and social connections
  • Vocational support to help you prepare for and find work

General healthcare costs, such as GP visits, are also covered by the DVA if you have a gold or white card. However, you do need to check with your medical provider whether they will accept your card.

Mental health treatment is also free for all people who have served at least one day in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Respite care

The Veteran’s Home Respite Care Program is run by the DVA and provides three types of respite – in-home, residential and Emergency Short-Term Home Relief – to people who hold a veteran gold card or a veteran white card and their carers.

In-home respite involves another carer being paid to visit your home and take over caring while your regular carer has a break. Residential respite is usually provided in an Australian Government-funded aged care facility for a short term stay. Emergency Short-Term Home Relief is arranged when your carer is unexpectedly unable to provide your care for a time – for example, if they are admitted to hospital.

Up to 28 days of residential respite, 196 hours of in-home respite or a combination of both can be fully funded each financial year.

For Emergency Short-Term Home Relief the DVA will fund up to 72 hours (three days) each time you need it, up to a maximum of 216 hours (nine days) in a financial year.

More details about respite and how to access each type for veterans can be found on the DVA website.

Assistive technology and home modifications

If you have a gold card or a white card for a service-related condition and an assessment by a GP or health professional you can have medical aids, equipment and home modifications funded by the DVA.

Your health professional will help you decide what you need and will send an order form to the DVA supplier. Your items will be delivered to your home free of charge and may also be installed for free if necessary.

Any equipment, aids or home modifications funded by the DVA can’t be duplicated through other funding sources, like the NDIS and vice versa.

For example, if you have an assistance dog funded through DVA funding you can’t get an additional assistance dog, or more funding for the assistance dog, through the NDIS.

Vehicle modifications

There is DVA funding available for modifying vehicles and the maintenance, extra insurance and replacement costs, depending on your service-related injury or condition.

To receive this funding you need to have double leg amputations above the knee, a combination of leg amputations and arm amputations or complete paraplegia.

This funding is available whether you need vehicle modifications to be able to drive safely or to travel safely and comfortably as a passenger.

Up to $39,810 can be paid towards the cost of a new car or up to $19,905 towards the cost of a replacement.

A running and maintenance allowance of $2,493 is also available.

What services or supports do you access through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:
Where to access disability support as a veteran
How to apply for the NDIS
What support can I get on the NDIS?