New Zealand Veteran Entitlements
New Zealand's repatriation system is predicated on the War Pensions Act 1954 which provides for the formal recognition of the service given to New Zealand by ex-service men and women and the need to reaffirm the special status of veterans. As such war pensions and allowances are viewed as entitlements, rather than as benefits.
A War Disablement Pension is not compensation for an injury, it is a compensatory payment designed to counterbalance the impact of a disability that is attributable to, or aggravated by service, on a veteran’s quality of life.
War Disablement Pensions are not an automatic entitlement. Veterans with eligible service in a recognised war or emergency can apply for a War Disablement Pension for any current disability that they believe is attributable to or aggravated by their service. The disability may occur during service, or it may develop at a later date as a result of that service. A War Disablement Pension is granted for that disability if the disability is deemed attributable to, or aggravated by, that service.
Eligible service in a recognised war or emergency is defined by the Minister of Veterans' Affairs under the provisions of the War Pensions Act 1954. This is done by the issuing of a declaration specifying the period of service recognised for War Disablement Pension purposes.
The beneficial evidential requirements for the award of a War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Act 1954 are referred to as the ‘reverse onus of proof’. This ensures that the decision making process favours the veteran.
Service personnel with routine service, service in the armed forces in a non-war or emergency situation, with service prior to 1 April 1974, when accident compensation cover was introduced, are also covered by the War Pensions Act 1954 for death or disability that is attributable to their service. Members of the Mercantile Marine are entitled to make application for a War Disablement Pension for service during World War ll.
War Disablement Pensions are granted under the War Pensions Act 1954 and the War Pensions Regulations 1956 and subsequent amendments.
Smoking Questionnaires can be filled in to assist in providing evidence of a service related smoking habit for veterans who were supplied with cigarettes by the New Zealand Government during their service in a war or emergency. This relates to veterans who have war or emergency service up until and including Vietnam.
Other Allowances and Concessions
Other allowances and concessions are available to veterans under the War Pensions Acts 1954. These include: funeral grants, attendant care allowances, clothing allowances, travel allowances and concessions, gallantry award payments, Victoria Cross annuity, war bursaries and subsidised car loans. It is also of note that there is nothing to preclude a veteran from accessing social security benefits outside of the War Pensions Act 1954, should the veteran meet the respective qualifying criteria.
The Veteran's Pension is an income support payment and generally mirrors New Zealand Superannuation, with added benefits for the veteran. Veterans over retirement age qualify for a Veteran's Pension if they have served in a recognised war or emergency and receive a War Disablement Pension of at least 70% disability. Veterans under the retirement age, who have served in a specified war or emergency and who are unable to work due to mental or physical infirmity (whether related to their service or not), may also qualify for a Veteran's Pension. This benefit is taxed but not asset tested. It confers entitlement to both the veteran and partner to a Community Services Card (for subsidised health care) and a lump sum payment if either partner dies. Recent legislative change now enables those who receive a Veteran's Pension, but are under retirement age, to undertake paid employment without losing their entire pension. Payments are not reduced should a veteran require long term hospital care. The Veteran's Pension is paid at the same rate as New Zealand Superannuation and is annually adjusted in line with upward movement in the Consumer Price Index.
A Surviving Spouses Pension is also available to the partners of veterans who have died while on specified service or, if they were in receipt of a War Disablement Pension of at least 70% when at the time of death, or their death is attributable to their service. These payments are not taxed and paid for the surviving partners lifetime unless they remarry or enter into a civil union or de facto relationship. All pensions are annually adjusted in line with the Consumer Price Index.
Payment to former POWs of Japanese
The Government has available a one off ex-gratia payment of $30,000 payable to New Zealanders, both civilian and military, who were held prisoner by the Japanese during World War II. If an ex-prisoner of war has died, the surviving spouse may receive payment.
Medical Assistance for Veterans and their Families
Fully funded health care is available to veterans who are on a War Disablement Pension for disabilities that are attributable to, or aggravated by, service. This covers GP visits; specialist visits; prescription costs; private hospital care if the need is urgent and there is a waiting list in public hospitals; treatment from a variety of providers including acupuncture and osteopathy; and it extends to appliances or equipment needed to overcome disability and enhance quality of life. Other forms of treatment may be accepted but are considered on a case by case basis. As previously stated the Veteran's Pension automatically grants entitlement to a Community Services Card for a veteran and partner. This card provides for lower doctors' fees and prescription costs for conditions not related to service. Most recently the Government announced new plans to provide special assistance to veteran's children who suffer from Spina Bifida or Cleft lip or palate. Government also recognised the need to fund specialist advice, such as genetic counselling, should veteran's children choose to seek it.
The War Pensions Act 1954 requires that a Secretary for War Pensions be appointed. The Secretary is responsible for the administration of the War Pension Act 1954. The Secretary is appointed by the Chief of Defence Force and is a member of the civil staff of the New Zealand Defence Force.