188.8.131.52 Qualification for BVA
Note: BVA closed to new entrants on 20 March 2020. Those receiving BVA before 20 March 2020 may continue to receive the payment until the end of their bereavement period, as long as they remain eligible. From 20 March 2020, BVA recipients who require income support at the end of their bereavement period can claim JSP or another income support payment.
Qualification (1.1.Q.10) criteria
To qualify for BVA, a person must meet the criteria listed in the following table. Where more detail about a criterion is required, the second column indicates where you will find this.
|Have been a member of a couple (1.1.M.120), AND||This topic|
|The person's partner died, AND||-|
|Have not become a member of couple again, AND||-|
|Satisfy the residence criteria, AND||This topic|
|Lodge the claim within the specified time limits.||This topic|
Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 315 Qualification for BVA
Member of a couple
De facto relationships are not required to have existed for any particular length of time before the death of the person's partner.
If either member of the couple has previously been determined as not being a member of a couple for the purposes of a social security payment, eligibility for BVA would not usually be accepted. However, where the couple received a payment on a single basis because of a special precluding provision, they may still qualify for BVA where they satisfy the general definition of member of a couple under SSAct section 4(2).
Example: Where a YA recipient is in a de facto relationship they may not be considered to be a member of a couple for YA purposes unless the relationship has existed for 12 months. For the purposes of BVA the relationship does not have to have existed for 12 months.
Children under the age of consent in the particular state or territory where they reside, CANNOT be regarded as members of a couple, and therefore CANNOT qualify for BVA.
If the couple were physically living apart due to the ill health of either 1 or both of the partners, they CAN still be considered a couple, and CAN satisfy this provision.
Example: 1 person was in hospital or a nursing home.
Act reference: SSAct section 4(2) Member of a couple-general
Partner missing, presumed dead
If a person's partner is missing, but presumed dead, the person MAY still qualify for BVA if there:
- are no suspicious circumstances, AND
- is evidence which supports that the person's partner has died.
Example: The partner is alleged to have met with a fatal accident such as death by drowning, and the body has not been recovered. If a police report supports the circumstances, the person may still qualify for BVA.
Explanation: The courts will generally not presume death until a period of 12 months has elapsed.
If the person's partner has simply disappeared, it CANNOT be accepted that the partner is dead for BVA purposes.
To satisfy the residence qualification criteria for BVA, at least ONE of the following must be satisfied. The person:
- and their partner, were BOTH Australian residents at the time of the partner's death, OR
- has been an Australian resident and in Australia for a period, or periods of 104 weeks (known as the qualifying residence period), OR
- has a QRE for BVA, AND
- is female, and:
On 1 January 2019 a NARWP was introduced for BVA in addition to the above criteria. A person who is granted a permanent visa on or after 1 January 2019 is subject to a 208 week NARWP for BVA. If the 104 week qualifying residence period criterion above applies to a person, the NARWP and qualifying residence period are served concurrently and the person is not payable until they have served both periods. If a person has a QRE for BVA, they will also be exempt from the NARWP. People granted a permanent visa before 1 January 2019 are subject to the old rules and will only serve a 104 week qualifying residence period.
Act reference: SSAct section 7(2)-'Australian resident'
SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 315(1) A person is qualified for a BVA on a day, if …, section 322 Newly arrived resident's waiting period
Policy reference: SS Guide 184.108.40.206 Payability of BVA, 1.1.N.70 Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), 220.127.116.11 Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), 18.104.22.168 Exemptions from waiting periods, 22.214.171.124 Exemptions for the NARWP
Time limit for claim
To qualify for BVA, a person must lodge their claim within the periods explained in the following table:
|If the person is …||then the claim must be lodged …|
|a man||within 14 weeks of the death of the partner.|
|a woman who was NOT pregnant at the time of the partner's death||within 14 weeks of the death of the partner.|
|a woman who WAS pregnant at the time of the partner's death||before the later of the following dates:
Person can choose BVA or another pension/benefit
A person who is receiving another pension, allowance or benefit can elect to receive BVA instead.
In the circumstances where a person chooses to transfer to BVA and is eligible to claim bereavement assistance, the assistance is calculated in relation to the payment they were receiving at the time their partner died.
Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.5 Bereavement payment provisions
Qualification during overseas travel
A former resident is disqualified from receiving BVA when overseas. However in the remainder of cases overseas travel does not disqualify a person from receiving BVA, if they:
- have lodged a claim and qualified before leaving Australia, AND
- continue to qualify for BVA during the overseas absence.
Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 1217 Meaning of maximum portability period, allowable absence and portability period
Policy reference: SS Guide 7.1 Conditions for payment outside Australia
If a person claims BVA when they would be entitled to a CFP, their claim can be rejected if they fail to seek that payment.
Act reference: SS(Admin)Act section 40 Rejection of claim for failure to obtain foreign payment
SS(Admin)Act pre-20 March 2020 section 66 Notice to obtain foreign payment
Policy reference: SS Guide 7.3.3 CFP notices & reasonable action requirements
A person must lodge a proper claim before BVA can be granted.
Policy reference: SS Guide 126.96.36.199 Claim Lodgement - General Provisions