The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to social security payments. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Qualification for BVA

Note: BVA closed to new entrants on 20 March 2020 and ceased on 20 September 2020 after those receiving BVA before 20 March 2020 had finished their bereavement period. The following information is for historical purposes only.

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.

Criterion More Detail
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

Policy reference: SS Guide 2.2.5 Verifying membership of a couple, Determining a de facto relationship, Registered relationships

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.

Residence criteria

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:
    • WP was payable immediately before the partner died, or
    • partner service pension under the VEA was payable immediately before the partner died, and
    • was not in Australia when her partner died.

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 Payability of BVA, 1.1.N.70 Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), Exemptions from waiting periods, Exemptions from 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:

  • 14 weeks starting on the day the partner died, OR
  • the day the child is born, OR
  • the woman is no longer pregnant.

Person can choose BVA or another pension/benefit

A person who is receiving another pension, allowance or benefit can elect to receive BVA instead.

Example: A person in receipt of NSA, SA or PP may be better off receiving BVA because of the higher rate and less stringent income test. Also, BVA recipients are not activity tested.

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

CFP (1.1.C.230)

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

Proper claim

A person must lodge a proper claim before BVA can be granted.

Policy reference: SS Guide Claim lodgement - general provisions

Last reviewed: