OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 19, 2014) - Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent released today his report, Supporting Severely Impaired Veterans, which focuses on the New Veterans Charter's Permanent Impairment Allowance and Permanent Impairment Allowance Supplement. The evidence-based report asks questions that need to be answered, such as: Why are so few Veterans receiving the benefit? - and - Why is the majority receiving it at the lowest grade?
"Veterans who suffer from a permanent and severe impairment can face a lifetime of loss of employment and career progression opportunities," said Mr. Parent. "The Permanent Impairment Allowance and the Supplement are key elements for the financial security of these Veterans because they are paid for life."
The Office of the Veterans Ombudsman undertook this report as a result of the many calls it received from Veterans about access to these benefits. Upon further research and analysis, inconsistencies with how the benefits are awarded were also uncovered.
"The evidence presented in the Report clearly demonstrates that many severely impaired Veterans are either not receiving these benefits or may be receiving them at a grade level that is too low. This is unfair and needs to be corrected. It's my intention to work with the Department to help bring about these changes," commented Mr. Parent.
"Providing these benefits to a survivor will ensure a period of financial stability following the death of the Veteran and allow the survivor to adjust to his or her new financial circumstances," said Mr. Parent. "It will also ensure consistency with other Veterans Affairs Canada benefits that are continued after the death of the Veteran."
The Report uncovered the following specific problems with the Permanent Impairment Allowance and the Supplement:
- A disconnect between the objective of the Allowance and the criteria that are assessed to determine eligibility.
- An overly restrictive list of eligible permanent and severe impairments which affects access to the Allowance and the Supplement ;
- Forty-eight (48%) of totally and permanently incapacitated Veterans are not receiving the Allowance, and thus the Supplement, even though they may no longer be able to work because of their impairment; and,
- Ninety percent (90%) of Allowance recipients are awarded the lowest grade level, even though their impairment may be quite severe;
- The Allowance and the Supplement cease when the Veteran dies which results in a significant drop in income support for the surviving spouse at a time when he or she is trying to cope with the loss.
Mr. Parent urged the Government to implement the Report's four recommendations as quickly as possible so that the most severely impaired Veterans can receive the financial help they need:
- Recommendation 1: Provide more flexibility when defining what impairments qualify as a permanent and severe impairment;
- Recommendation 2:Properly align how you determine eligibility for the benefits with why you provide the benefits;
- Recommendation 3: Develop new criteria for awarding Allowance grade levels that better characterize the impact of a permanent and severe impairment on loss of employment and career progression opportunities; and,
- Recommendation 4: Provide the Allowance and the Supplement to a survivor at the full rate for a period of one year following the death of the Veteran.