Veterans' Vocational Rehabilitation Scheme (VVRS)
In this section:
- Who can VVRS help?
- A free and voluntary scheme
- How can VVRS help?
- How the scheme can affect your pension
- Invalidity service pension
- Safety net
- Other assistance
Do you have eligible service under the Veterans' Entitlements Act (VEA), which may include peace-keeping deployments and consider you need assistance with employment matters, such as:
- assistance with job seeking activities
- increasing your hours of paid employment
- returning to paid employment
- being at risk of losing your job, or
- finding difficulty in maintaining the hours you are working.
The VVRS operated by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), helps eligible veterans, with or without a disability, who need assistance to find or keep suitable paid employment.
The VVRS may also assist veterans who current receive:
- a DVA Disability pension at the Special Rate, commonly known as the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) pension; or
- a Disability pension at the Intermediate Rate (able to work part-time); or
- an Invalidity Service pension.
The VVRS is free for eligible veterans. Participation in the VVRS is voluntary. There are no penalties if you do not complete a program.
A range of VVRS services may help you find or keep a job. Services may include:
- a professional vocational assessment to determine opportunities
- assistance and support finding employment
- assistance with updating or upgrading your skills, for instance, helping you to get recognition for your on-the-job training where this is essential for finding or keeping employment
- advice and support if your job is at risk
Some examples of how the VVRS may assist you are:
- if you are not working as a result of a disability, whether accepted by DVA or not, but believe you could work again and want to look for a job
- if you are having trouble coping at work but do not want to leave the paid workforce
- if you are leaving the ADF and experiencing difficulty in moving to civilian employment
- if you can't find suibable employment with your current skills
Your Disability and Invalidity Service pensions are only affected if you commence paid employment. However, you will not receive less income than you would have without that employment.
Disability pension - General rate
If you are receiving a Disability pension between 10% and 100% of the General Rate, you will continue to receive your pension payment, even if you find paid employment.
Disability pension - Above the General rate
Special (TPI) and Intermediate Rate pensions are paid because of an inability to work and will be affected if you commence paid employment through participation in the VFRS. Your TPI or Intermediate Rate pension will be gradually reduced over a seven year period to 100% of the General Rate.
You will, however, retain your TPI status, Gold Card and all other ancillary benefits.
Should your combined earnings plus Disability pension fall below your pre-employment pension amount, you will receive a 'top up' to the rate that you would have been entitled to, had you not entered the scheme.
If your paid employment ends for any reason, your Special Rate pension or Intermediate Rae pension will be restored in full, once you have notified DVA of your change of circumstances.
Invalidity Service pensions are paid because of an inability to work more than eight hours per week. This type of pension is also affected if you undertake paid employment through participation in the VVRS as the pensio is subject to income and asset tests. However, for participants on the VVRS, only 50% of gross employment earnings is held in the income test for ythe first two years. This gradulally increased to 100% of earnings over the following five years. Eligibility for the Invalidity Service pensions continues for seven years after commencement of employment under the VVRS.
Most veterans will keep all ancillary benefits (eg. Gold Card) they were eligible for before participation in the VVRS. However, veterans receiving a Disability pension of less than 50% of the General Rate and whose Invalidity Service pension rate is assessed as falling below the treatment benefit limit may lose their Gold Card.
Veterans who have a Gold Card due to receiving between 50% and 100% of the General Rate, as well as any amount of Invalidity Service pension, will retain their Gold Card for as long as the Invalidity Service pension is payable.
The VVRS provides a safety net for veterans receiving pensions from DVA. The safety net applies if you are being paid the Special Rate (TPI) or the Intermediate Rate Disability pension and/or the Invalidity Service pension. There are two guarantees:
- If you cease paid employment at any time for any reason, including retrenchment, retirement, or ill health, your Special Rate or Intermediate Rate pensions will be restored in full, once you have notified DVA of your change in circumstances. Invalidity Service pensions are restored subject to the income and assets tests.
- After commencing paid employment, your income (from Disability pensions and employment earnings) will never be less than the Disability pension that you would have been paid.
Withdrawal from the scheme
There are no penalties from withdrawal from the VVRS. Veterans in receipt of Special or Intermediate Rate pensions who withdraw from the workforce for any reason, including retirement, will have their pensions restored in full.
However, eligibility for the Invalidity Service pension will only be retained for seven years while participating in the VVRS. After that time, any re-application for Invalidity Service pension must be assessed according to the current eligibility criteria. If you withdraw from the VVRS any time during the seven years, you will be subject to the normal income and assets tests.
For those veterans who have recently discharged, or are about to be medically discharged friom the ADF, or are Reservists and have a compensable injury, DVA also provides othger forms of rehabilitation assistance.
Depending on your period of military service, you may be eligible under the:
- Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA), if your injury arises from your service up to 30 June 2004; or the
- Military Rehabilitation Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), if your injury arises from your service after 1 July 2004.
Rehabilitation services are available to the following veterans who have a compensation claim accepted under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Schemes:
- all former members of the permanent Defence Force
- all members of the Reserve Force
- cadets and officers and instructors of cadets
- other people declared in writing by the Minister, who:
- hold an honorary rank in the Defence Force; or
- are members of philanthropic organisations that provide services to the Defence Force; or
- are undertaking Career Transition Training under an arrangement made by the Defence Force
Depending on your period of military service, your eligibility for rehabilitation assistabnce may fall under SRCS or MRCA. In these instances, the VVRS would not be available unless you also have eligibility under the VEA.
For information on VVRS, see DVA fact sheet HSV108.