The SISIP Long Term Disability (LTD) is a group insurance plan for CAF personnel sponsored by the Treasury Board of Canada. The Chief of the Defence Staff is the policy owner and Manulife is the Insurer. The Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VRP) is a component of the LTD benefits. Although the VRP is administered and managed by Manulife in Halifax, the Senior Vice President (SVP) Commercial Services, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS), is responsible and accountable to the policy owner for the delivery of the program to eligible CAF personnel. As a result, the SVP Commercial Services, CFMWS is responsible for providing Manulife with the objective and the procedures to administer and manage the VRP. Accordingly, this document outlines the mission, objective and procedures to guide the management and the delivery of the VRP.
The objective of the VRP is to provide, where the need exists, training and education that focuses on enhancing the former member's existing education, skills, training and experience to obtain gainful employment in the civilian workforce. The objective is not to provide training or education in a new career field, if at the time of release, a former member already has transferable skills to the civilian workforce while in keeping with the former member's medical limitations. Any training provided will focus on the acquisition of a license, certification or diploma from a recognized educational institution.
Once former CAF members are approved in the program, the VRP will assist in facilitating their return to gainful civilian employment through the enhancement of the former members' existing education, skills, training and experience. Since 1 Dec 99, eligible personnel who are released from the CAF for medical reasons are offered an initial period of a maximum of 30 months VRP; up to 6 consecutive months before their effective date of release and 24 consecutive months post-release. The effective date of release is the last day of paid service in the CAF and occurs after the completion of all retirement leave. The 30-month VRP period can be extended if the former member qualifies as totally disabled at the end of the post release 24-month period.
If the release is for reasons other than medical, and it is determined that the former CAF member is "totally disabled", as per the definition of the term in the Policy, the member may then qualify for VRP support. The terms "totally disabled" and "total disability" mean that the member has been released from the CAF and there is clear and objective medical evidence, satisfactory to the Insurer confirming the individual is incapacitated by an active, medically determinable physical or mental impairment which prevents the member from performing any and every duty of any substantially gainful occupation or employment for which the latter is reasonably qualified by education, training or experience.
Once a member is eligible for LTD benefits, a VRP introduction package will be forwarded to the member. The package will:
- Introduce the assigned VRP counsellor;
- Describe the support available; and
- Provide the information to facilitate an initial contact with the counsellor.
To provide the best possible support in close proximity, in a timely and safe atmosphere, meetings will be conducted in public places where private discussions can be conducted (i.e.. restaurants). Nevertheless, claimants have the option to request alternative arrangements for a meeting location and will be informed of that option in the introduction package as well as by the counsellor during the initial contact. As soon as possible after the initial contact, the counsellor will meet with the claimant to evaluate the claimant's education, skills, training and experience to establish the feasibility of a VRP, as well as to inform the claimant of the support available.
VRP counsellors will:
- Determine the claimant's existing transferable skills;
- Assist the claimant in determining a suitable vocational plan;
- Define training gaps to establish a mutually agreed plan; and
- Assist the member with a mutually agreed education plan.
The vocational plan must meet the following criteria:
- Must be realistic in execution and needs, and within the cost limit;
- Must build on existing skills;
- Must be attainable within the time limits previously defined in this document;
- Must have employment opportunities; and
- Must be approved by the VRP counsellor.
VRP services will provide:
- Personal counselling;
- Coordination of medical support;
- Vocational counselling and vocational rehabilitation financial support;
- Career counselling; and
- Employment search assistance., including support for Public Service applications
Procedures (Initial Contact)
Within five business days of receiving a referral from the Manulife claims section, an introduction package will be mailed to the claimant regarding the VRP support, identifying the assigned counsellor, and asking the claimant to contact the counsellor;
Once the claimant has contacted the assigned counsellor, a productive working relationship will be developed, and the unique circumstances of the claimant will be explored with the goal of developing a viable VRP
Procedures (Meeting the Claimant)
The counsellor will meet with the claimant as soon as practical after the initial contact to:
- Establish trust and a good working relationship;
- Discuss the objective of the VRP;
- Assess the unique circumstances of the claimant to develop a viable VRP;
- Confirm the VRP in writing; and
- Determine if any other circumstances may prevent the timely completion of the VRP.
Former CAF members who may be medically incapable of ever returning to employment on a full-time basis will be provided with the appropriate support according to their unique needs. All LTD claimants will be offered assistance to facilitate the transition from military to civilian life.
On first meeting, the rehabilitation counsellor will explain:
- VRP financial support;
- Employment preparation;
- Search assistance;
- 24-month post release support;
- Tax issues;
- Ongoing communication requirement between the two parties;
- Medical reassessment after 12 and 20 months;
- Interest-free loan support if required; and
- Benefit offsets (Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan, Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and employment income).
Financial Support Methods
The VRP Director is responsible for the management of the financial elements for the VRP. This financial support will only be available while a claimant is actively participating in an approved VRP, and will not be payable to claimants who withdraw from the program for reasons other than medical. Financial support for any approved vocational program will focus on the actual needs of the individual.
Tuition and Book Fees
- Supported by receipts, 100% of the tuition and book fees required for an approved vocational program will be covered by the VRP. Payments will be made through the use of a sponsorship letter to the vocational institution.
- Where alternative funding is available for tuition and books, the VRP will top up the difference to ensure the claimant incurs no expense.
- The total VRP maximum support for tuition costs is set at 60% of projected first year earnings, up to a maximum of $28,000 for the full VRP. Projected first year earnings of the new occupation will be determined by the SISIP VRP Director, based on estimations provided by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada or another professional assessing organization.
A Monthly Supply Allowance in the amount of $44.00 will be provided to a claimant who is attending vocational training.
- The Supply Allowance may be paid in advance of a semester to facilitate the purchase of necessary education supplies such as printer cartridges, pens, paper and binders;
- The Supply Allowance may be prorated for part time studies ; and
- No receipts will be required for the Supply Allowance.
Childcare costs while in training will be reimbursed at a rate of 50% of submitted childcare receipts with a monthly maximum of $830 per family. Reimbursement for childcare provided by family members living in the same household as the children will not be supported.
An Internet Allowance will cover basic Internet fees to a maximum of $33 per month. Installation, hardware and maintenance fees will not be covered.
Travel Assistance (TA) for private motor vehicles will be reimbursed at 22 cents per kilometer.
- The distance used is to be the shortest route from the claimants' residence to the appropriate campus;
- TA will not exceed $550 per month. Any changes will be approved by the assigned VRP counsellor; and
- The allowance will be paid at the end of each month.
Dual Residency (DR) may be provided on a case-by-case basis where the need exists.
- Dual residency will only be exercised in cases where a client with dependents is forced to pay for lodgings in a different location for retraining purposes;
- The long distance institution must also be the only choice available to obtain the approved training;
- Support will be equivalent to the actual costs of residency at the institution to a maximum of $550 per month;
- If dual residency is approved then TA to return home on weekends will not be supported.
Foreign Training refers to any training conducted in a country other than Canada.
- Where the approved VRP requires training in a foreign country then funding will be set at a rate equivalent to similar training costs in Canada.
- All reimbursements for expenses or allowances incurred in a foreign country will be in Canadian funds and allowances will be based on Canadian rates.
Early Vocational Rehabilitation Interventions (6 months prior to release) will be provided under the following circumstances:
- Advice on the development of a vocational plan may be provided, at any time, in advance of the effective date of release;
- The claim status must be either pending or approved before any funds may be committed to the vocational support; and
- Once a vocational plan has been approved, the claimant will be provided with a letter of support. The claimant may then submit the letter, through the chain of command, to the Commanding Officer requesting approval to implement an early VRP, usually in conjunction with support from JPSU/IPSC.
Employment and Business Income Offsets
Definition - VRP Income Offset Formula for Employment Earnings
- If a claimant earns income while participating in a VRP approved by the Insurer, the claimant's LTD benefit will be reduced by 50% of the gross employment income, or 50 cents for each dollar earned, until the member's total income from all sources reaches 100% of his monthly salary at release. In the case of a claimant who was on Class C service, the monthly pay in effect when the injury was incurred or the illness was contracted, adjusted to the present value by application of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for each year benefits are payable. Thereafter, the claimant's benefit will be reduced by one dollar for each dollar earned.
Offsets for Employment Income
- All sources of employment income earned while participating in the VRP will offset the LTD benefit based on the VRP Income Offset Formula for Employment Earnings.
Offsets for Income from Entrepreneurial Ventures (Home Based Businesses and Claimant Owned or Operated Businesses)
- Any business owned or operated by a claimant will be considered a source of income and will be subject to offset the LTD benefits and the income amount will be based no less than on minimum wage applicable in the relevant Province. This income will be processed through the VRP Income Offset Formula for Employment Earnings.
On the recommendation of the VRP Director, the SVP Commercial Services, CFMWS will consider exceptional circumstances, which are beyond the guidelines presented in this document.
Any appeal regarding the denial of a training program or the administration of the VRP under this Objective and Procedures document must initially be addressed to the VRP counsellor or their Supervisor and, if a formal appeal is to be submitted, it must be in writing to the (VRP) Director, at 614 - 10216 124 Street, Edmonton, AB, T5N 4A3. The appeal must include a clear explanation of the issue and supporting information from the claimant.
Second and Final Level of Appeal
In the event that the first level of appeal did not produce a result satisfactory to the claimant then, within one year after the date of receipt of the decision of the VRP Director, the claimant may submit a second and final appeal, in writing, to the SVP Commercial Services, CFMWS.