Australian Government - Department of Defence - Department of Veteran's Affairs

Breaks in service/Rejoining ADF

Breaks in Service

A break in service, where you cease to be an employee of the ADF for a period of time and then resume active service, will impact on the DHOAS eligibility and entitlement of both Permanent and Reserve members. The impact will depend on the length of the break.

Key impacts of service breaks are:

Qualifying Period : A break in service of one year or more, or period of complete discharge from the ADF, will break your continuity of service during the DHOAS qualifying period and you will need to restart this qualifying period of service.

Accruing service credit : A break in service after the qualifying period will pause your accrual of DHOAS entitlement for the duration of the break. If you rejoin after a break of five years or more, your service credit may be affected.

Separation conditions : As a separated member, you have access to only one subsidy certificate. If you have not completed 20 years of effective service at the time you separate, you will receive your subsidy at the tier 1 level.

Reservists and breaks in service

Reservists particularly need to be alert to inadvertent breaks if they have not completed effective Reserve service within a financial year. In this case, they will be deemed to be separated.

Permanent members on leave without pay

Please note that for the purposes of DHOAS, members of the Permanent Force who take leave without pay and remain employees of the ADF are not defined as “separated members”.

Although they cannot accrue entitlement while they are on leave*, they can continue to receive their subsidy payments at their eligible tier level and can access additional subsidy certificates.

*Exception: leave without pay of 21 days or less is counted as effective service for the purposes of DHOAS.

Exemption from effective service

You may be able to apply for an exemption from effective service requirements for the purposes of DHOAS. This means you would avoid the impacts of taking a break in service.


Rejoining the ADF

The DHOAS Act was amended in June 2020, increasing the time frame to rejoin the ADF before DHOAS eligibility and entitlement are impacted.  

·         If you return after a break of exactly five years or less, your previous service will count towards DHOAS eligibility and entitlement. This means your total years of service in the ADF will count towards your two or four year qualifying period of service as well as accrued entitlement to DHOAS.

·         If you return to the ADF after a break of more than five years, either as a Permanent or Reserve member, your previous service will not count towards either eligibility or entitlement. You will need to serve the qualifying period again (two years for a Permanent member or four years for a Reservist), and then complete enough effective service to accrue entitlement to the DHOAS.

Please note that warlike service completed prior to a break of any length will be recognised for the purposes of the DHOAS warlike service bonus, which contributes to your accrued entitlement.


Be cautious! Impact on subsidy payments

It is very important that you understand the full implications of how the rejoining provisions might affect your DHOAS benefits if you are currently receiving subsidy payments, based on an assessment made before amendments to the rejoining provisions were made in 2020.

This includes those members returning from a recent break as well as those with breaks in the past and who applied for DHOAS prior to the rejoining provisions took effect. You are advised to contact DHOAS to discuss your plans before you make any changes to your current DHOAS home loan.

If you need to apply for a new subsidy certificate to restart subsidy payments, the rejoining provisions may take effect on your DHOAS entitlement. This could result in a reduction or cancellation of your subsidy entitlements, and/or shorten the length of your entitlement.

You may need to determine if it is better in your circumstances to continue receiving your current DHOAS subsidy (on your existing eligible home loan) than it is to make changes and need to reapply for DHOAS, possibly impacting on your future entitlement.

Reserve members particularly need to be aware of what constitutes effective Reserve service, to ensure they do not inadvertently take a break in service and become a rejoining member.