Vets face 'unfair' disability claims process: Ombudsman



OTTAWA — Ex-soldiers seeking disability benefits from the government face an unfair and sometimes biased process, the veterans' ombudsman said Monday.

In a new report, Guy Parent criticized Veterans Affairs Canada for keeping former armed forces members in the dark about the health and service records being used to settle their disability pension and awards claims.

The records are retrieved internally and given directly to claim adjudicators who make the decisions on those claims.

In some cases, disability benefits officers flag documents for adjudicators they see as most relevant to a specific case.

Parent argues this can bias a case even though the officers have no authority to actually rule on claims.

"The process should be effective and efficient — but most of all it should be procedurally fair and we found it wasn't," Parent said.

Veteran Affairs Minister Steven Blaney committed Monday to making the process more fair.

"It is a report that we take very seriously because we care for our veterans. They must be provided with the services and the programs to which they are entitled and that they fully deserve," Blaney said during question period.

Within 30 days, adjudicators will have to take into account all the documents a veteran presents during their claim process.

It's not the first time the claims process at Veterans Affairs Canada has been bashed.

In October, the auditor general found former and injured soldiers were denied benefits in part because red tape choked the system.

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