If a claim for Disability Pension is rejected, applicants can appeal to the Veterans' Review Board, an independent statutory authority. This is a three-member tribunal consisting of a senior member (usually a lawyer), a nominated representative of an ex-services organisation and another member. To lodge an appeal, the applicant must complete a standard appeal form available from the Department of Veterans' Affairs. It is also possible to request the Department of Veterans' Affairs to review a decision at any time under section 31 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 . The department's power of review is purely discretionary.
Medical assessment decisions must be appealed against within three months of the initial decision. Entitlement decisions may be appealed against up to 12 months after receiving the initial decision. However, pension payments for disability entitlement applications are backdated three months before the date of the original application, and appeals must be lodged within three months of receiving an adverse decision in order to receive this backdating. Any appeals lodged after this are only backdated six months from the date the appeal is lodged.
The applicant has the right to attend the hearing and be represented by a non-lawyer. Ex-services organisations and the Legal Services Commission provide, without charge, advice and assistance in preparing and presenting appeals. The Department of Veterans' Affairs also has the right to appear if it wishes. Hearings of the Board are held in private and are informal. The Board has the power to request additional information and to adjourn proceedings if required. Decisions of the Board are binding. If an applicant is dissatisfied with the Board's decision there is a right of appeal to the Veterans' Appeals Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. There is a further possibility of appeal to the Federal Court and High Court strictly on matters of law. Legal aid is available to assist applicants seeking a war caused pension or an increase in their pension. There is no means test for these matters. It is also possible to request the Department of Veterans' Affairs to review a decision at any time under section 31 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act . The department's power of review is purely discretionary.
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