Long wait for benefits decision concerns Kingston veteran

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Long wait for benefits decision concerns Kingston veteran Empty Long wait for benefits decision concerns Kingston veteran

Post by Mojave on Tue 05 Mar 2019, 6:00 pm

Elliot Ferguson - Published on: March 5, 2019

Long wait for benefits decision concerns Kingston veteran KI.TW20190304EF01
Veteran Richard White is concerned about the long time it takes for some benefits decisions from Veterans Affairs Canada.



An Afghanistan veteran is concerned about the long wait time he has been told to expect before receiving a decision about a benefit for which he applied.

Richard White spend 22 years in the military as a vehicle mechanic and engineering officer, including tours of the Middle East, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Afghanistan.

It was his tour of Afghanistan that left him with a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis in 2010 and signaled an end of his military career.

Last September he applied for a medical benefit related to his PTSD diagnosis from Veterans Affairs Canada.

“For the majority of the time that Veterans Affairs and I have had dealings, Veterans Affairs has been great. For the most part it has been very seamless,” he said. “My experience has been great. Until this.”

When White originally applied for the benefit, which would be on top of other benefits he receives in retirement, he was told it would take about 16 weeks to receive a decision.

He still hasn’t heard anything, except a message from Veterans Affairs last week that said the ministry was working on applications for the benefit made in August 2017.

White said not having the extra benefit won’t have an affect on his financial position. He said other veterans are in the same position.

“I’m sure there are others that are experiencing the same thing I am that are experiencing hardship,” White said. “It can be a quality of life issue for people.

“We’re talking about veterans, we’re talking about people in my condition, with PTSD, who don’t necessarily deal with stress well.”

A spokesperson declined to comment on White’s specific case but said there had been a 32 per cent increase in disability applications since 2015.

“This includes a 60 per cent increase in first applications for disability benefits,” spokesperson Emily Gauthier wrote in an email to The Whig-Standard. “This is good news as more people are coming forward to get the help they so need and deserve.”

Gauthier said the government announced almost $43 million over two years, starting in 2018-19, to increase service delivery capacity at Veterans Affairs.

The ministry has set up an online system where veterans can monitor their claims and see information about processing times.

“Over the past two years, Veterans Affairs Canada took measures to simplify the adjudication of PTSD claims and began to triage and prioritize claims to ensure released veterans applying for a mental health condition are adjudicated on a priority basis to ensure expedited access to treatment benefits,” Gauthier added.

“In certain circumstances, applications are processed in an expedited manner for those who are medically at risk, are in financial distress or have an unmet health need related to their claimed condition.”

In 2017 and 2018, Gauthier wrote, 96 per cent of first applications completed for PTSD were approved.

“While progress has been made in many areas, including hiring more front-line staff, simplifying the decision-making process for some medical conditions, and working with partners to speed up access to service health records, the department recognizes that there are areas where we can improve and continues to modify systems and processes to gain efficiencies to ensure all individuals coming forward are receiving the benefits and services they need,” she wrote.





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