Veterans Ombudsman Reports on the Implementation of his Recommendations for Improvements to Veterans’ Disability Benefits Adjudication

February 5, 2015

Ottawa, Ontario – Guy Parent, Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman, is pleased to release Veterans Right to Fair Adjudication: The Follow-Up Report. This follow-up is an evaluation of the implementation of the seven recommendations put forward to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB), Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Minister of Veterans Affairs in the Veterans Ombudsman’s 2012 Report: Veterans’ Right to Fair Adjudication.

VRAB is an independent administrative tribunal that adjudicates applications of Veterans dissatisfied with decisions made by VAC in relation to disability benefits. The 2012 recommendations identified areas for improvement to ensure fairness to Veterans in the redress process.

The assessment found that significant progress had been made by VRAB to implement three of the four recommendations and to partially address the fourth. Recommendations made to the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs represent an area for improvement, with one of the three recommendations being partially implemented and two having been accepted in principle.

“Veterans should be able to confidently turn to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board when dissatisfied with decisions made by Veterans Affairs Canada and expect their case to be handled fairly”, said Guy Parent, Veterans Ombudsman. “I am pleased with the progress made by VRAB to ensure fairness in the adjudication process by implementing a decision writing checklist to improve clarity and understandability of their decisions. VRAB also reports to Parliament on its performance at Federal court, and their internal procedures have been improved to ensure efficiency, fairness and understanding of military and RCMP culture.”

“I encourage the Minister of Veterans Affairs to address the recommendation that provides reimbursement for treatment expenses incurred retroactively to the date of original application.” added Mr. Parent. The change identified as a priority by the Ombudsman would ensure that Veterans who successfully appeal a decision under the New Veterans Charter would be reimbursed for treatment expenses incurred retroactively to the date of application as granted under the Pension Act. “This amendment would ensure that all Veterans are treated fairly.”

The Veterans Ombudsman will continue to monitor the effect of the implemented changes and the status of the remaining recommendations that will bring positive results for Veterans.

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