Ottawa, ON - Larry Maguire, Member of Parliament commended Canada's Veterans Affairs Minister, the Hon. Erin O'Toole, for unveiling a proposed new financial benefit today aimed at providing financial stability to Veterans who are moderately to severely disabled and their families.
"The best interests of Veterans and their families must remain at the centre of everything Veterans Affairs Canada does," said Maguire. "I am pleased our Government continues to make significant investments in programs and services to ensure local Veterans receive the care and support they need now and in the future."
Currently, the Earnings Loss Benefit-upon which many moderately to severely disabled Veterans rely-is not available after the age of 65, resulting in a drop in the Veteran's annual income. The new Retirement Income Security Benefit announced today would provide these Veterans with continued assistance in the form of a monthly income support payment beginning at age 65.
The proposed Retirement Income Security Benefit would work in concert with existing services and benefits to establish a continuum of support that spans a disabled Veteran's entire life. It is designed for those whose ability to save for retirement was directly impacted by their service to our country. Income support would also be extended to families through continued payment of a monthly benefit to the Veteran's survivor.
Maguire concluded, "This proposed new initiative is evidence of our commitment to ensuring that Canadian Veterans and their families are treated with care, compassion and respect. I will continue to work alongside our local Veterans and be a strong voice for our region."
The Government of Canada also recognizes the complexity of financial benefits available for moderately to severely disabled Veterans. As part of a continued commitment to Veteran-centric care, Minister O'Toole indicated that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is examining ways to combine these new and existing supports into a single monthly pension for severely injured Veterans.
- The Retirement Income Security Benefit would ensure that an eligible Veteran's total annual income is at least 70% of what he or she received in financial benefits from VAC before age 65.
- Monthly payments would be calculated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account how much the Veteran was receiving before age 65 and other sources of income he or she may have beyond age 65.
- It is estimated that by 2020, approximately 5,800 Veterans and survivors would qualify for the Retirement Income Security Benefit upon turning 65. An estimated 261 Veterans and survivors would receive payments by 2020.
- Today's announcement responds directly to concerns raised by the Veterans Ombudsman and the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Last week it was also announced that changes to the Veterans Independence Program will result in a three-year renewal for program participants, rather than a single year. Veterans will also have six months to complete their renewal, as opposed to 30 days. The forms and correspondence will also be simplified.
Veterans Affairs Canada will also improve their services so the focus is always squarely with the viewpoint of the Veteran and their family. Any administrative process that serves to delay or complicate support will continue to be fixed or eliminated.
Additionally, Veterans Affairs Canada will never ask a Veteran who has lost a limb to prove the limb is still missing, nor will it require Veterans to prove their disability or impairment after they qualify for benefits.
Case managers who are assisting the Veteran will continue to have an open dialogue to better understand the Veteran's current condition, ensuring that the condition hasn't worsened and that the best care possible is always being provided.
"Our Government has instructed officials at Veterans Affairs Canada to reduce the complications related to applying for benefits or updating their file in relation to ongoing services or benefits," said Maguire. "This is a critical part of the new vision we are imparting into the Department as part of the Veteran-centric approach to service."