Unnecessary delays and inadequately supported claim rejectionsby the Department of Veterans’ Affairs are contributing to stress and financial hardship among veterans, RSL Tasmania has told a Senate inquiry.
The group, Tasmania’s peak body for the welfare ofex-services personnel, outlined multiple shortcomings in the DVA’s handling of compensation claims from veterans seeking financial assistance for conditions acquired through their time in service.
It told the Senate inquiry into suicide by veterans and ex-services personnel it had seen instances where claims were rejected on the basis of a statement from a DVA delegate that they could not prove an event leading to injury occurred.
“Often, these statements of ‘proof’ for rejecting a claim read as an opinion on the part of the delegate amounting to the delegate simply not believing the veteran, rather than providing any evidence for rejection of a claim to the required ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard,” RSL Tasmania’s inquiry submission said.
These rejections were typically overturned later by the Veterans’ Review Board, it said.A DVA spokesman said delegates undergo an extensive training program to ensure they understoodand appliedlegislation correctly.
The DVA was using independent medical specialists in assessing veterans’ claims in cases whentreating doctors should be consulted, RSL Tasmaniatold the inquiry.This has led to medical reports including irrelevant factors regardinga claimant that would have been discounted by their treating doctor.
“There have been cases observed by RSL Tasmania advocates where delegates have been uncertain or unclear of information in a report from an independent [specialist] and, rather than request clarification or a supplementary report, have simply rejected theclaim out of hand.”A DVA spokesman saida report from a treating specialist was preferred, and thatnon-treatingspecialist reports were used when there was no treating,they were unavailable, or haddeclined to provide a report.
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