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Eligibility for Permanent Impairment Allowance and Exceptional Incapacity Allowance

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Issue

Response to the OVO on eligibility for Permanent Impairment Allowance and Exceptional Incapacity Allowance for clients who hold disability entitlement under both the Pension Act and the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act.

Facts

The eligibility criteria for Exceptional Incapacity Allowance (EIA) under the Pension Act includes a requirement for clients to be in receipt of a pension paid at the Class 1 rate - i.e., 98% pension or higher. As the total amount on disability is limited to 100%, and as some clients are recipients both under the Pension Act and the New Veterans Charter (NVC), if a client is in receipt of a NVC Disability Award of 3% or higher, they would never be able qualify under the Pension Act at the Class 1 rate, and by extension, could never become eligible for EIA.

Clients in receipt of a Disability Award for which they have qualified for Rehabilitation Program benefits would normally be eligible for Permanent Impairment Allowance (PIA) under the NVC if they have a health problem that is creating a permanent and severe impairment. Again, however, since the total amount of disability is limited to100%, a client who already has a high level Disability Pension under the Pension Act could never qualify for more than a very low percentage Disability Award, and by extension would never likely meet the eligibility requirements for PIA.

The unintended effect of this is that for a limited number of clients it is possible that a client who would have qualified for either EIA or PIA if all of their disability entitlements were under the same act, may not qualify for either.

Status

A very small number of clients fall into the groups which are noted to be ineligible for these benefits. In each case, the Department has examined the client file and the effective dates of assessments to provide benefits where possible. For example, in those cases where a client’s total pensioned disability is close to 100% and there are outstanding applications for both a disability pension and a disability award, the Department processes the pension application first, to provide the client the opportunity to become a Class 1 pensioner. Alternately, the Department would also review assessment levels under the Pension Act for high level pensioners before adjudicating on a new disability award application. To date, the Department is not aware of any situations where clients who should qualify for either EIA or PIA have not done so. If the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman is aware of any specific cases, then the Department would greatly appreciate hearing about these so that every effort can be made to provide the greatest benefit possible to the client.

As the Department is now three years into the New Veterans Charter, we have been actively learning from our administration of the programs, and compiling observations and advice from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group, the Special Needs Advisory Group, the key Veterans Organizations, and of course from the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman. It is with thanks, therefore, that we acknowledge this potential problem. With observations, such as this, we will explore in the future opportunities to address such areas so that we continue to better meet the emerging needs of our Canadian Forces clients and Veterans.

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