Myth Busting Veterans Access to New Veterans Charter Lifetime Monthly Benefits
Ottawa, ON – August 18, 2014
“Many severely disabled Veterans cannot access lifetime monthly allowances designed to compensate for their loss of earning capacity.”
Q: True or False?
Before we get into this discussion, let’s put into context how many Veterans need to receive lifetime monthly benefits. On average, 5,000-6,000 Regular Force members release annually from the Canadian Armed Forces. Of these, 20 to 25 percent are released medically. So, it’s important to remember that 75-80 percent of Canadian Armed Forces members release with minimal support required and successfully transition to civilian life.
- Approximate number of Canadian Veterans - 700,000
- Veterans Affairs Canada Veteran Clients as of March 2014 - 133,291
- Veterans who can access the New Veterans Charter Programs - 80,577
- Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Veterans - 1,611
My focus here is on the small group of Veterans in this graph who are Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI). They make up only two percent (2%) of all Veterans who can access New Veterans Charter programs, and they require monthly financial support to offset the fact that their service-related medical conditions have deprived them of their ability to provide for themselves now and in the future.
There are two key New Veterans Charter lifetime benefits that specifically target the negative financial impact of becoming an injured or ill Veteran are: the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) and the Permanent Impairment Allowance Supplement (PIAS).
PIA is a financial support benefit provided under the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act (commonly referred to as the New Veterans Charter). It is awarded in three grade levels. Its objective is to compensate for loss of earning capacity; specifically, for the effects of a permanent and severe impairment on a Veteran’s employment and career progression opportunities.
PIAS provides additional financial support to those Veterans who are in receipt of the PIA and are no longer able to participate in any suitable and gainful employment.
Prior to the October 3, 2011 enactment of the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, 54 Veterans were in receipt of the Permanent Impairment Allowance. As of March 2014, there were 1,647 recipients, making it clear that the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act has had a positive effect on improving access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance. However, two issues remain to be addressed:
- Almost 50 percent of Veterans, who Veterans Affairs Canada determines to be totally and permanently incapacitated, are not receiving the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) and/or the Permanent Impairment Allowance Supplement (PIAS). The reasons for this situation are not entirely clear because Veterans Affairs Canada does not track why totally and permanently incapacitated Veterans are not receiving the benefits. Approximately 100 of these Veterans are in receipt of the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance (EIA) provided under the Pension Act and, therefore, are not eligible for the PIA and the PIAS. However, we also know that some Veterans may not be eligible for these benefits because their conditions do not satisfy the current definition of permanent and severe impairment.
- Of the Veterans who are receiving the Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA), 90 percent are awarded the lowest grade level, even though they may suffer from a permanent and severe impairment that has a profound impact on their employment and career progression opportunities. A recent chart published by Veterans Affairs Canada showing a comparison of supports available to seriously injured Veterans seems to indicate that all seriously injured Veterans could receive this benefit and at the highest rate. However, the statistics demonstrate that in reality this is not happening.
So, it is fair to say that many severely disabled Veterans cannot access lifetime monthly allowances designed to compensate for their loss of earning capacity. It is also fair to say that there are issues with the PIA and the PIAS and it is my intention to work with the Department to solve them.
Tomorrow, I will be releasing a report that details these and other issues. The report will recommend changes to improve access to these benefits for Veterans who suffer from a service-related permanent and severe impairment that impacts their employment and career progression opportunities.
I believe that the government can fix the problems with these allowances without breaking the bank for the small percentage of Veterans who need this support. These Veterans deserve no less.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s release.
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