Attendance Allowance Explanation

RE: Attendance Allowance Explanation

Good day folks.

Many of you will recall, this past Sunday I reached out to all of you asking if any had been denied the Veterans Affairs Canada Attendance Allowance, the reason being VAC representative incorrectly advising the RCMP (and our veterans) were not eligible for that program. I certainly appreciate the large numbers of folks who responded and as of last night there were 56 clearly documented cases of that happening. Unfortunately, when this problem first surfaced, it seems VAC was having difficulty understanding there was a problem. Thus, the reason for my asking for examples and I found it disturbing there were so many. Although there were 56 clear examples, occasionally there were situations where our Veterans applied for the military Veterans Independence Program or VIP, not realizing the RCMP isn’t eligible for that benefit. Those numbers were not included in the 56.

Firstly, What is the Attendance Allowance? Using whatever search engine you prefer, such as “Google”, type in “Veterans Affairs Canada, Attendance Allowance” and one of the first things you will see is:

“The attendance allowance helps to cover the cost of hiring a caregiver to assist you in your day-to-day life. The amount you can receive is based on the level of care you need, from occasional to full-time supervision and care.”

The Chapter goes on to describe a wide range of information and I want to provide you with some of the salient details.

  1. You must already be receiving a VAC disability pension of 1% or more. It isn’t relevant what the disability is. Nor is it relevant if the condition you are now suffering from is duty related.
  2. The statement (or Question)“Is the applicant totally disabled” can cause one to drop the application at that point, however, carefully read what is meant by “totally disabled”. It doesn’t mean you are bedridden. Rather, if the applicant suffers from a prolonged impairment which has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more and the applicant meets the criteria outlined in “Table 1’ (which I will cover shortly), the applicant is determined to be totally disabled.
  3. Is the applicant in need of attendance? In essence, the following are the disabilities listed within Table 1: If the applicant demonstrates a need for attendance in feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting, mobility, or medication then the applicant meets this requirement. NOTE: the issue is whether or not you need assistance due to one or more of these disabilities. It isn’t relevant if the applicant is living with a partner or spouse. It’s whether or not you need assistance and the purpose of the program is to provide funding to hire assistance should it be required.

How to apply:
There are a number of ways, including filling out an application within the “Veterans Affairs, Attendance Allowance” web page, or even easier, simply telephone your nearest Veterans Affairs Canada office and tell them you are a former member of the RCMP and are receiving a VAC disability pension of 1% or more. Make sure you have your K or VAC file number handy.

  • Make sure you insist it’s the Attendance Allowance and not the VIP program! If the VAC representative incorrectly says the RCMP doesn’t have the AA program, ask to speak to the supervisor, because the RCMP certainly is eligible.
  • Most of the folks who have done this over the phone are pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from VAC within a week or two advising they want to send over someone to interview and assess your condition. Often this is a local nurse contracted by VAC.
  • Everyone has good days and bad days. It’s those bad days when you need assistance the most so those are the days you must describe.
  • Although we are not eligible for the VIP pension, if your home includes outdoor property you must take care of, then make sure you describe your restrictions in carrying out both indoor chores as well as outdoors such as snow shoveling, pushing a lawn mower, etc., especially if your issue is with mobility, including balance. NOTE: For far too long many of us were of the understanding issues outside the house were not counted when being assessed. Indeed they are and I recently cleared this with the RCMP Director General, Compensation Services who advised it’s your condition that matters.

Note, however, if during your initial contact with VAC you specifically state you want assistance in taking care of your property, you will be refused, because that’s what the VIP program is for. I realize this is confusing, but when applying for the Attendance Allowance you can describe all the limitations you have inside and outside your home because of your medical condition.

It’s your condition that’s being evaluated, first and foremost. If the VAC agent or representative states you cannot include examples of outdoors restrictions, advise the agent you certainly can and insist on them being included in the report. This is important, should it become necessary to contest any adjudication.

By now, many of you are wondering why the RCMP has not asked for the VIP program. From what I have been told and I discussed this with the DG Compensation Services, apparently it has been suggested by Veterans Affairs the RCMP can have the VIP package if they switch pension plans and I sure don’t want to go there. The fact that we can include descriptions of our medical restrictions when it comes to outside chores is an important factor without having to risk losing the excellent package we now have. Having said that, if the RCMP can negotiate having both the AA and VIP while remaining with our pension plan, then that’s ideal. Perhaps that can be negotiated by the RCMP in the future.

In conclusion, I hope I have made the Attendance Allowance program more understandable. Make sure you insist the RCMP and pensioners are eligible. I also strongly urge you to reach out to your respective Division Advocates. They likely know a whole more than I do when it comes to the VAC interview and completing the process.

I am providing a copy of this message to the RCMP Liaison member, for him to refer to when discussing the current issues with Veterans Affairs. It is so important VAC is advised there are misunderstandings involving such substantial numbers of unwarranted refusals. VAC must be advised the RCMP has the Attendance Allowance program and examples of medical restrictions outside the house are appropriate. I was upset yesterday when one of our veterans, after exchanging emails with me on that day phoned VAC and again was told the RCMP doesn’t have the Attendance Allowance program. It was especially disturbing, knowing the severe disabilities he is suffering from. It also happened on two occasions this past weekend while our Support team counsellors were with each of the applicants to help them with the process.

I will stay with this important issue until successfully resolved.

Regards to all

Sandy Glenn, National President
RCMP Veterans Association

Veterans Helping Veterans and Their Families



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