Language selection


Search veterans.gc.ca

Disability Benefit Processing – Summary Report

Quarter Four of Government Fiscal Year 2021/2022 (ending 31 March 2022)

*This report will be updated with new quarterly statistics within 90 days of the end of each quarter.

What's on this page

  1. Overview
  2. Statistics
  3. Additional Information

Overview

More and more Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members are coming forward to get the benefits and services they need to improve their well-being. Between 2015-16 and 2019-20, the Department received 40% more disability benefit applications, including an increase of more than 75% in first applications. Although the number of applications received in 2020-2021 decreased, perhaps due to the pandemic, intake in 2021-2022 increased and was slightly higher than the number of applications received in 2019-2020.

To process the increased number of applications, we have hired more staff, made improvements to the application process, and simplified decision-making for some medical conditions. Temporary employees are now fully trained and have been extended to March 2024 thanks to $139.6 million in funding announced in February 2022.

Our priority continues to be making faster decisions on disability benefit applications. In June 2020, we released a strategy to address the long-standing issue of decision processing times. We have implemented and are refreshing our strategic direction document to address this long-standing issue, and regularly report on performance.

Statistics

In the past four years, we completed more than 180,000 applications. In fiscal year 2020-2021, we delivered $2.2B in disability benefits to Veterans. Below, you will find data on the number of applications received, completed and pending, as well as percentages of approved applications.

Veterans and former RCMP members receiving Disability Benefits (as of 31 March 2022)
Receipt of Disability Benefits
138,705

Disability benefits are payments made to individuals for a service-related disability in one of two ways:

What is the backlog?

Total applications in the backlog
11,619 (9,148 individuals)

A complete application which has been waiting longer than our service standard is considered to be in the backlog.

Service standards are our commitment to a measurable level of performance which clients can expect under normal circumstances. Our target for disability benefits is for 80 percent of decisions to be made within 16 weeks for First Applications and Reassessments; and 12 weeks for Departmental Reviews.

What is the total number of pending disability benefit applications?

Total number of pending disability benefit applications
Incomplete applications needing more information Applications ready for assignment Complete applications ready for a decision – within service standard Complete applications ready for a decision – outside service standard Total
As of 31 Mar 2019 (Q4) 13,564 N/A 9,862 16,879 40,305 (29,964 individuals)
As of 30 Sept 2019 (Q2) 18,330 N/A 3,074 23,260 44,664 (30,367 individuals)
As of 31 Dec 2019 (Q3) 20,995 N/A 4,980 20,233 46,208 (33,320 individuals)
As of 31 Mar 2020 (Q4) 22,545 N/A 4,533 22,138 49,216 (39,240 individuals)
As of 30 Jun 2020 (Q1) 12,125 9,244 2,355 21,572 45,296 (33,464 individuals)
As of 30 Sept 2020 (Q2) 12,739 9,467 3,678 19,633 45,517 (33,388 individuals)
As of 31 Dec 2020 (Q3) 14,446 9,647 4,227 16,346 44,666 (32,949 individuals)
As of 31 Mar 2021 (Q4) 13,933 10,290 3,790 15,214 43,227 (31,937 individuals)
As of 30 Jun 2021 (Q1) 12,546 7,950 4,425 15,113 40,034 (29,754 individuals)
As of 30 Sept 2021 (Q2) 12,012 3,439 4,488 16,307 36,246 (27,189 individuals)
As of 31 Dec 2021 (Q3) 12,381 2,147 5,202 14,115 33,845 (26,216 individuals)
As of 31 March 2022 (Q4) 12,420 1,943 4,843 11,619 30,825 (23,160 individuals)

Note: Q1 2019 data is not available due to upgrades to our application tracking software.

There are three types of pending applications in the table above:

1) Incomplete application stage

In most cases, applications at this stage are missing information such as proof of identity, signed forms or required medical questionnaires.

As of 31 March 2022, we had 12,420 incomplete applications.

2) Applications ready for assignment stage

During this stage, most of these applications are waiting to be assigned. An administrative decision-maker looks at the application to determine whether or not the condition is straightforward. If it is, they will make a decision. If the condition is more complex, the application is moved to a nurse decision-maker.

As of 31 March 2022, we had 1,943 applications awaiting assignment.

3) Complete applications waiting for a decision stage

These are completed applications working through the process.

As of 31 March 2022, there were 16,462 complete applications ready for a decision.

Incomplete applications + applications ready for assignment + complete applications = 30,825 applications pending (as of 31 March 2022)

Historical summary - Applications received and processed

Chart 1: Disability Benefit Applications by Fiscal Quarter (2017-2021)
2017 Q1 2017 Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2018 Q1 2018 Q2 2018 Q3 2018 Q4 2019 Q2 2019 Q3 2019 Q4 2020 Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 Q4 2021 Q1 2021 Q2 2021 Q3 2021 Q4
Incomplete Applications (need more information) 11,032 12,158 12,899 13,713 16,188 15,634 14,732 13,564 18,330 20,995 22,545 12,125 12,739 14,446 13,933 12,546 12,012 12,381 12,420
Ready for Assignment n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 9,244 9,467 9,647 10,290 7,950 3,439 2,147 1,943
Complete applications ready for a decision - within service standard 6,865 6,731 6,640 6,511 8,463 9,101 8,972 9,862 3,074 4,980 4,533 2,355 3,678 4,227 3,790 4,425 4,488 5,202 4,843
Complete applications waiting for a decision - outside service standard 6,645 8,714 10,136 10,591 11,288 14,022 15,863 16,879 23,260 20,233 22,138 21,572 19,633 16,346 15,214 15,113 16,307 14,115 11,619
Total 24,542 27,603 29,675 30,815 35,939 38,757 39,567 40,305 44,664 46,208 49,216 45,296 45,517 44,666 43,227 40,034 36,246 33,845 30,825
2017 Q1 2017 Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2018 Q1 2018 Q2 2018 Q3 2018 Q4 2019 Q2 2019 Q3 2019 Q4 2020 Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 Q4 2021 Q1 2021 Q2 2021 Q3 2021 Q4
Applications Received 13,661 12,302 12,130 14,170 16,619 13,614 15,373 15,318 17,045 14,781 14,531 8,154 9,827 12,462 13,704 15,165 14,436 18,947 17,872
Applications Completed 8,625 8,083 8,733 10,997 9,905 8,820 12,180 10,877 12,133 8,905 9,510 9,550 7,380 10,904 11,795 13,785 12,652 14,610 15,028

*Note: Data for Q1 2019 was not available due to upgrades to our application tracking software

Applications Received
First Application Reassessment Departmental Review Total
1 Jan 2019 – 31 Mar 2019 9,173 4,834 1,274 15,281
1 Apr 2019 – 30 Jun 2019 10,855 4,577 1,264 16,699
1 Jul 2019 – 30 Sept 2019 12,289 3,785 1,045 17,119
1 Oct 2019 – 31 Dec 2019 10,187 3,543 1,053 14,783
1 Jan 2020 – 31 Mar 2020 10,062 3,584 886 14,532
1 Apr 2020 – 30 Jun 2020 5,702 2,217 235 8,154
1 Jul 2020 – 30 Sept 2020 6,693 2,875 259 9,827
1 Oct 2020 – 31 Dec 2020 8,285 3,590 587 12,462
1 Jan 2021 – 31 Mar 2021 10,124 3,091 489 13,704
1 Apr 2021 – 30 Jun 2021 10,848 3,325 992 15,165
1 Jul 2021 – 30 Sept 2021 10,719 2,870 847 14,436
30 Sept 2021 – 31 Dec 2021 14,346 3,775 826 18,947
1 Jan 2022 – 31 Mar 2022 13,316 3,801 755 17,872

Individuals applying for a Reassessment have previously received a favourable decision for the same disability. This allows them to access treatment benefits, which provide coverage for things such as prescriptions, medical equipment, nursing services and appointments with specialists.

If the Veteran disagrees with a First Application or Reassessment decision and has new evidence to present, they may request a review or appeal.

Decisions made
First Application Reassessment Departmental Review Total
1 Jan 2019 - 31 Mar 2019 5,429 4,6424 806 10,877
1 Apr 2019 - 30 Jun 2019 6,777 4,328 559 11,664
1 Jul 2019 - 30 Sept 2019 7,210 4,537 429 12,176
1 Oct 2019 - 31 Dec 2019 5,826 2,563 516 8,905
1 Jan 2020 - 31 Mar 2020 5,519 3,325 666 9,510
1 Apr 2020 - 30 Jun 2020 5,987 3,293 270 9,550
1 Jul 2020 - 30 Sept 2020 5,130 1,351 899 7,380
1 Oct 2020 - 31 Dec 2020 6,840 2,774 1,290 10,904
1 Jan 2021 - 31 Mar 2021 6,845 4,426 524 11,795
1 Apr 2021 - 30 Jun 2021 10,005 3,352 428 13,785
1 Jul 2021 - 30 Sept 2021 9,421 2,872 359 12,652
30 Sept 2021 – 31 Dec 2021 10,651 3,004 955 14,610
1 Jan 2022 – 31 Mar 2022 11,180 3,180 668 15,028

When we have made a decision on an application and the Veteran has been informed, the application is considered finalized.

Completed conditions – complex vs straightforward
Complex conditions Straightforward conditions
As of 30 June 2021 31% 69%
As of 30 September 2021 35% 65%
As of 31 December 2021 49% 51%
As of 31 March 2022 50% 50%

Not all conditions can be processed at the same speed. One factor which can slow the processing of a condition is its complexity.

Put simply, a straightforward condition is one which does not need to be reviewed by someone with a medical background. Conditions can be complex for a number of reasons. Sometimes, the medical condition itself is complex—like a rare cancer. Other times, evidence or circumstances surrounding the condition are complex. It may also be difficult to establish a link between the condition and the applicant’s service.

Percentage of approved applications
First Application Reassessment Departmental Review
1 Jan 2019 - 31 Mar 2019 81% 75% 83%
1 Apr 2019 - 30 Jun 2019 85% 73% 79%
1 Jul 2019 - 30 Sept 2019 85% 78% 81%
1 Oct 2019 - 31 Dec 2019 78% 57% 78%
1 Jan 2020 - 31 Mar 2020 76% 63% 76%
1 Apr 2020 - 30 Jun 2020 76% 77% 82%
1 Jul 2020 - 30 Sept 2020 85% 69% 89%
1 Oct 2020 - 31 Dec 2020 85.7% 74.3% 76.2%
1 Jan 2021 - 31 Mar 2021 81.4% 72.7% 78.1%
1 Apr 2021 - 30 Jun 2021 81.5% 73.0% 72.9%
1 Jul 2021 - 30 Sept 2021 83.8% 71.8% 76.8%
1 Oct 2021 – 31 Dec 2021 83.1% 73.8% 86.1%
1 Jan 2022 – 31 Mar 2022 79.7% 72.8% 84.1%
Levels of disability among Veterans
Assessment level 0-20% (low) 20-40% 40-60% 60-80% 80-100% (high)
January 2022 43.3% 23.0% 14.6% 8.6% 10.5%
March 2022 42.4% 22.9% 15.0% 8.8% 10.9%

Once we determine a confirmed disability is service-related, we look at the severity and its impact on quality of life. Using this information and the Table of Disabilities, we assign an assessment level ranging from 0-100%.

For example, a Veteran assessed at 100% may have a disability which is severe and impacts their quality of life significantly. A Veteran may also have a combination of disabilities which amount to a 100% assessment level.

Above is a summary of how many Veterans are currently receiving disability benefits based on different assessment levels. As the table shows, about three quarters of Veterans are assessed at levels of disability less than 40%. Less than 10% of Veterans are assessed at 80% or above.

Average processing times

We are looking closely at the longer processing times for applications from Francophone Veterans to determine how this can be improved.

In addition to our dedicated French unit and two bilingual teams, we established five more bilingual teams in the fall of 2020. After they completed their training, they began processing applications in January 2021, and are focused predominantly on French applications.

Also, the Department now has a Veteran Benefit Team dedicated to processing applications from female Veterans/members. This team is developing expertise to ensure we can systematically address the current barriers and close the gap in processing times for female and male applicants. This approach is already having a positive impact on processing times for female applicants.

We administer disability benefits on behalf of the RCMP. Decisions for RCMP applications are difficult to compare to other types of applications (e.g., applications by CAF members and Veterans) due to the differences in service and legislation.

Note: To start counting the processing time, we must first have all required information from the applicant. Please see our Wait time tool for processing times across various programs, updated weekly.

Median application processing times by sex (1 January 2022 – 31 March 2022)
Processing time (in weeks)
Male 15.4
Female 15.9
Average application processing times by sex (1 January 2022 – 31 March 2022)
Processing time (in weeks)
Male 34.7
Female 33.9
Median application processing times by language (1 January 2022 – 31 March 2022)
Processing time (in weeks)
English 14.1
French 28.1
Average application processing times by language (1 January 2022 – 31 March 2022)
Processing time (in weeks)
English 33.2
French 41.6
Application processing times for RCMP (1 January 2022 – 31 March 2022)
Processing time (in weeks)
Median 22.0
Average 33.6
Application processing times for Veterans and CAF members (1 January 2022 – 31 March 2022)
Processing time (in weeks)
Median 13.3
Average 34.9

Additional Information

Veterans Affairs Canada Statistics - Facts and Figures

Veterans Affairs Canada Service Standards Results

Date modified: