Minister of Veterans Affairs, Erin O’Toole today unveiled a proposed new financial benefit aimed at providing financial stability to veterans who are moderately to severely disabled and their families.
While making the announcement, the minister was joined by veteran’s groups, members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent.
“Today, we are closing a major gap in the New Veterans Charter that was identified by the Veteran’s Ombudsman and others in recent years. The Retirement Income Security Benefit will ensure that veterans who are moderately to severely disabled receive lifetime financial support beyond the age of 65. This new benefit will provide security and peace of mind to veterans and their families as they grow older,” said Minister of Veterans Affairs, Erin O’Toole.
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.
The benefit is designed for those whose ability to save for retirement was impacted while servicing their country. Income support would also be extended to families through continued payment of a monthly benefit to the veteran’s survivor.
Today’s announcement responds directly to concerns raised by the Veterans Ombudsman and the House of Common’s Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
“The Retirement Income Security Benefit meets the intent of my recommendation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on the most urgent New Veterans Charter shortcoming, after age 65 financial support. I congratulate the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs for his leadership on this issue, and I encourage all parliamentarians to pass this new pension benefit without delay,” said Guy Parent, Veterans Ombudsman.
The Retirement Income Security Benefit would ensure that an eligible veteran’s total annual income is at least 70 per cent of what he or she received in financial benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada (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.
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 VAC is examining ways to combine these new and existing supports into a single monthly pension for severely injured veterans.
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