No matter who we are, or our stage in life, we seek well-being. A feeling of well-being is an integral part of who we are as people and how we live a life that’s productive and enriching.
As a Veteran, you have contributed significantly to the collective well-being of our country, often to the detriment of your safety and that of your loved ones. Canada owes an enormous debt of gratitude to you and the many other thousands of women and men who have served in uniform.
Over the last two years, I have learned a great deal about the many challenges Veterans face. For me, creating policies and improving existing policies that will provide Canadians with a greater sense of well-being is at the very core of our government’s values — especially when it comes to Canadians such as yourself who have placed not only their well-being on the line but also their lives.
Pension for Life (PFL)
The Pension for Life plan announced in December by Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan is designed to give Veterans and their families a greater sense of overall well-being. The plan, which comes into force on April 1, 2019, ensures Veterans like you will have access to the resources you need. Pension for Life, which is separate from the Canadian Armed Forces pension that Veterans receive for their service, is built on three pillars.
The first pillar is a monthly, tax-free financial compensation, with the choice of monthly payments for life, to recognize pain and suffering caused by a service-related disability with a maximum monthly amount of $2650 for those most severely disabled with barriers to re-establishment.
The second pillar includes income replacement for Veterans who are experiencing barriers returning to work after military service at 90% of their pre-release salary. In some cases, Veterans may be eligible for an additional 1% career progression factor each year.
Pillar three includes services and benefits to help Veterans in a wide-range of areas, including education, employment, and physical and mental health.
Pension for Life includes three new benefits that will recognize and compensate Veterans for a disability resulting from service-related injury and illness. Depending on your situation, as a Veteran, you will now be able to choose whether to receive monthly, tax-free, pain and suffering compensation for life or cash out your monthly payments for a one-time lump sum.
Pain and Suffering Compensation (PSC)
The Pain and Suffering Compensation, which comes into effect on April 1, 2019, recognizes pain and suffering experienced by a member or Veteran caused by a disability resulting from a service-related injury and illness. The PSC replaces the lump sum Disability Award and provides a maximum of $1,150 per month for the life of the serving member or Veteran, or it can be provided in a lump sum payment. The highest possible lump sum payment of the PSC would be the same as the maximum Disability Award payment on the day before coming into force.
Not everyone will receive the maximum award. The amount of compensation is directly tied to the extent of disability resulting from injury and illness experienced by the serving member or Veteran. This benefit is not intended to replace lost earnings. Therefore, it is not taxable.
Additional Pain and Suffering Compensation (APSC)
The Additional Pain and Suffering Compensation provides additional support to Veterans who are experiencing barriers to re-establishment in post-service life due to severe and permanent impairment. Depending on the extent of the Veteran’s impairment resulting from his or her service-related disability, the monthly payment would be $500, $1,000 or $1,500. This benefit is not intended to replace lost earnings, therefore, it is not taxable. The extent of the Veteran’s impairment and barriers to re-establishment will determine the level of payment.
Income Replacement Benefit (IRB)
The Income Replacement Benefit is a monthly benefit designed to provide income support to Veterans who are experiencing barriers to reestablishment due to a health problem resulting primarily from service. The benefit is available to Veterans, survivors, for life, and orphans, should they need it. For Veterans who have not yet served a full career in the military, the IRB will be increased by 1% every year until the Veteran reaches what would have been 20 years of service or age 60.
Veterans who wish to join the workforce may also earn up to $20,000 from employment before any reduction is made to their IRB payment. Employment income beyond $20,000 will be fully offset dollar for dollar from the IRB amount. The IRB combines six pre-existing benefits into one, simpler benefit.
The consolidation of the Earnings Loss Benefit, Extended Earnings Loss Benefit, Supplementary Retirement Benefit and Retirement Income Security Benefit into a single financial benefit makes access easier. Additional changes are also being made to survivor benefits, with support for survivors increasing from 50% to 70% of the Veteran’s Income Replacement Benefit.
As with all of the changes that VAC is making to its programs, the overarching goal is to give every Veteran a greater sense of well-being. I assure you, providing you and your family with the services you need to have a more enriching and fulfilling life is a top priority for the Government of Canada.
I encourage you to learn more by visiting the VAC Pension for Life page at www.veterans.gc.ca, or reach out to my office at 506-452-4110 or Matt.DeCourcey@parl.gc.ca
As always, thank you for your service.
Matt DeCourcey, MP