Veterans get new option on pensions

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Veterans get new option on pensions Empty Veterans get new option on pensions

Post by Spider on Fri 15 Feb 2019, 7:32 am

Veterans get new option on pensions

Giving veterans the option of postponing disability claims helps VA cope with a deep backlog of applications

Murray Brewster · CBC News · Posted: Feb 15, 2019

Veterans get new option on pensions Military-reserves-politics-20150204
A policy change at Veterans Affairs gives veterans the option of delaying disability claims long enough to opt for the pension-for-life.

Wounded and injured soldiers — both serving and retired — have been given the option of postponing the filing of disability claims until after the Liberal government's pension-for-life plan is implemented on April 1, CBC News has learned.

Those who file a disability claim before April 1 do not get to opt for a pension-for-life. They're entitled only to lump sum compensation. Holding off until the new budget year begins gives them that choice between the pension and the lump sum.

And it turns out the delay also helps Veterans Affairs out of a budget jam, according to leaked Department of National Defence documents.

Deep backlog, shallow funds

One of those documents — an email dated Feb. 4, 2019 — stated there is a shortage of disability award funds "within VAC due to [the] increase of awards from [the application] backlog clean up."

The bigger problem, according to a veterans watchdog group, is that the option to delay filing has not been communicated to the wider veterans community.

According to the documents, the process change has been passed along to those still in uniform through the military chain of command and support centres.

It's another example of a double standard at work within Veterans Affairs, said Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

"There'd be many who would want to avail themselves" of the pension option, Blais told CBC News. "I'm very disappointed. It's supposed to be one veteran, one standard."

Blais praised National Defence for being proactive but said Veterans Affairs is missing in action.

"It's not fair for Veterans Affairs Canada to come forward with a program that benefits those who are serving while excluding and denying veterans in the wider community," he said.

A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs, Emily Gauthier, said in an email there have been "communications" with the veterans community and the department has "designed a process so a current application could be suspended and transitioned" to the new system.

National Defence, it seems, went to extraordinary lengths to get the word out among those still serving.

A spokesman, Maj. Travis Smyth, said late Thursday that 3,500 letters were sent in December to members who were scheduled to retire in the near future. Those letters were followed up with telephone calls and in-person interviews.

All of it, Smyth said, was supported by Veterans Affairs.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals promised to give injured military members the option of receiving either a lifetime pension or a lump sum disability award.

The plan, which involved a complex redrawing of the benefits system, was unveiled in December 2017 with a scheduled implementation date of April 1, 2019.

At the moment, military remembers are only eligible for a lump sum award to compensate for pain and suffering due to injuries.

Those veterans whose applications are now in the system — and processed before March 31 — do not have the pension option.

"Please note that the VAC (service delivery) team has just released a new directive to deal with those (Canadian Armed Forces) members (who are) applying for a (disability award/disability benefit) but wish to wait (hold) on their approval until after 1 Apr 19 in order to receive a monthly payment vs. lump sum award," reads a Feb. 4, 2019 email obtained by CBC News, written by Lt.-Col. Trevor Campbell, a liaison officer to Veterans Affairs.

"There has also been a lot of discussion here lately on temporary shutdowns and delaying of adjudication decisions until post [pension for life] implementation."

Veterans Affairs asked for more money

Part of the reason for offering veterans the option of delaying disability claims is the administrative and information technology changes the new pension-for-life will require. But the other — and more significant — reason for the policy shift is the budgetary crunch at Veterans Affairs created by an enormous backlog of disability applications.

As of last December, Veterans Affairs had 27,107 disability claims registered in the system. Of those, 15,421 — 57 per cent of the total — had been waiting in the queue for more than four months.

Veterans Affairs officials recently went before Parliament to ask for a budget top-up of $323.2 million.

"The requested funds are to support increases in some programs which stem mainly from an increased number of veterans accessing support, such as the Disability Award and the Earnings Loss grant," say the supplementary budget estimates tabled Jan. 29, 2019.

Blais said the department should have had a better handle on the numbers.

"I think they underestimated the ability of the community to get veterans to come forward, particularly on mental health (claims), and that their projections were woefully inadequate," he said.

Gauthier insisted the department "has sufficient funds to meet disability award demands" in the current budget year.

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Post by Cool~Way on Fri 15 Feb 2019, 10:19 am

The reason behind pushing or informing serving members was because veterans have already applied for the disability award, and are going to get a assessment for a Monthly pension reflecting what they already received from any awards prior to April 1. Service members this late in the game would not benefit from the same assessment veterans are getting.

This statement is miss-leading "3,500 letters were sent in December to members who were scheduled to retire in the near future."
Are they saying that everyone who retires from the service are entitled to a disability award?
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Post by Masefield on Fri 15 Feb 2019, 10:29 am

Of course they would push this on the serving members because the PFL is going to save the government money over the NVC.

Furthermore the backlogs have been an issue for years. The system is faulty, and it's not getting any better.
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Post by Trooper on Fri 15 Feb 2019, 6:26 pm

Veterans have been inform Months ago about the PFL.


The current Disability Award will no longer exist under the New Veterans Charter after April 2019. This does not include the Critical Injury Benefit, which will remain in place. If a Veteran already received a Disability Award, you may keep it.


No. If a Veteran already receive disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada, they do not need to apply for the Pension for Life benefits. They will automatically receive an adjusted amount which will be explained by a VAC representative. The eligibility criteria for Pension for Life benefits (PSC, APSC and IRB) are similar to the current eligibility criteria used for disability benefits.


For Veterans who have already received a Disability Award, a calculation will be done automatically to determine if any additional money should be paid to you on a monthly basis.

Any future disability benefit applications after March 31, 2019, will be for the PSC because it is replacing the current Disability Award.

Income Replacement Benefit: Veterans will receive comparable benefits and amounts that are no less–before offsets–to those that were eligible to receive before March 31, 2019. However, since we are consolidating and replacing most of the financial benefits as they currently exist, maintaining status quo is not possible. The names of the benefits and the structure of the payment may look different.

It is important to note that if a Veteran receives benefits under the Pension Act. These will not change as a result of this announcement.

These examples are only a few that were pushed to Veterans for educational purposes. Veterans were advised that those who have already received a DA would be assessed for a Monthly pension After April. No lump sum because they've already received a lump sum, and new claims after April will give you the option of lump sum OR Monthly payments. This has been made crystal clear by VAC's website, the town halls across the Country. Those serving members were advised the same as Veterans, and was pushed to ensure it was clear about what happens with an application after April as opposed to before April.

I don't see anything complicated about how this PFL is to work. It is straight forward given three benefits. People speculate which makes things more complicated. I don't agree with the new PFL OR the NVC. Both don't merry up to the old pension act. But I do understand it, and I also understand the gong show coming from our government.

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Post by Guest on Sat 16 Feb 2019, 2:42 pm

If I'm being honest, I have to say that my personal situation as a veteran, under the Liberals has improved. I can't say the same from the Harper years.

With that being said, I will be exercising my democratic right and will refrain from voting in this year's federal election. The reason for this is because as a whole I believe Trudeau lied to veterans about to many things and the final straw was telling a crowd gathered at a Town hall that vets ask to much of their government. That statement is outrageous and disrespectful. Only a spoiled rich kid would speak like that.

Andrew Scheer? I don't trust him either.

Jagmeet Singh? He's soft on terrorists, so he's definitely out.

Maxine Bernier? Did not respond to my emails asking him his position on veterans. So he's out too.

The fact is that all politicians are spoiled brats who think they are above everyone and they cannot be trusted.


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