Pre- and Post-Release Income of Regular Force Veterans: Life After Service Studies 2019

Pre- and Post-Release Income of Regular Force Veterans: Life After Service Studies 2019

Year published

The Life After Service Studies (LASS) program of research consists of both a survey and an income study which have been completed every three years since the first cycle of LASS in 2010. LASS partners are Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) , the Department of National Defence (DND) and Statistics Canada.

What is this Research About?

This report examines pre- and post-release income trends for Regular Force Veterans by linking military personnel records from DND to Statistics Canada’s annual tax files. Researchers examined incomes for 83,000 Regular Force Veterans. Income data up to the 2017 tax year was compiled by Statistics Canada in 2019 and shared with Veterans Affairs Canada for analysis in 2020. The income data that was analyzed includes employment earnings, pensions, investments, and government transfers such as employment insurance.

The study also looks at the main industries Veterans are working in and some differences for female Veterans. Taxable income was captured in the study which excludes any VAC disability benefits as they are tax-free.  The majority of the Veterans in the study were male (86%) and aged 35 or older (63%).

What did the Researchers Find

  • Overall, Veterans experienced little decline in income after leaving the military - on average their incomes reach pre-release levels within three years of release and continue to increase steadily until about the 10th year
  • Few Veterans experienced low income. Low income rates were higher for Veterans who released at entry rank level, involuntarily released, or who had served less than 2 years.
  • Female Veterans had a much greater decline in income than male Veterans (19% vs 0.2%) and their post-release earnings were much lower. They were also more likely to experience low income at least one year post-release.
  • On average, the Veteran’s income accounts for about 70% of family income.
  • Average spousal income rose from $39K in the year prior to the Veterans’ release to about $42 K during the first three years post-release, representing an 8% increase.
  • The largest source of Veteran income was employment earnings, followed by pensions then government transfers.
  • The largest post-release employer was the public service (34%), followed by administrative services (8%) then manufacturing (7%).
  • 42% were receiving VAC benefits: these benefit recipients tended to be older; have longer lengths of military service; and to have medically released.


Poirier A, MacLean MB, Pound T and Van Til L. Pre- and Post-Release Income of Regular Force Veterans: Life After Service Studies 2019. Charlottetown (PE): Veterans Affairs Canada, Research Directorate Technical Report; May 1, 2021.