The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, unveiled a proposed new financial benefit today aimed at providing financial stability to Veterans who are moderately to severely disabled and their families. The Minister was joined by Veterans’ groups, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent.
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.
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.
• As modern-day Veterans are much younger than traditional Veterans, the immediate cash cost is over $10 million because only a few hundred Veterans will be over age 65 over the next five years.
• In the future, as many more Veterans reach the age of 65, this program, over its lifetime, would cost more. If passed by Parliament, it would all be accounted for, year by year, and included in our annual budgets from the finance department.
• It is important to understand that, with the Retirement Income Security Benefit, moderately to severely disabled Veterans, and their families, would be receiving the support that the Ombudsman and others in the Veteran community made clear they require.
• This is a program that is an ongoing benefit — not a one-time expenditure.
“Today, we are closing a major gap in the New Veterans Charter that was identified by the Veterans 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.”
The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of 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 Veterans Affairs for his leadership on this issue and I encourage all parliamentarians to pass this new pension benefit without delay.”
Guy Parent, Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman