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Vocational Rehabilitation Program

Prepares former members who qualify under the Long Term Disability plan to obtain gainful employment in the civilian workforce.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VRP) is a component of the CAF LTD benefit. Although the VRP is administered and managed by Manulife, the Senior Vice President (SVP) SISIP Financial, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS), is responsible and accountable to the co-policyholders for the delivery of the program to eligible CAF personnel. As a result, the SVP SISIP Financial, CFMWS, is responsible for providing Manulife with the objective and the procedures to administer and manage the VRP. Accordingly, this document outlines the objective and procedures to guide the management and the delivery of the VRP.

Objective

The objective of the CAF LTD 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.

General

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 December 1999, 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.

Administration

Once a member is eligible for CAF 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 VRP counsellor.

To provide the best possible support, in person meetings* are offered at local Transition Centres or in an alternate location in the claimant’s community where possible.  Meetings may also be held via telephone or Microsoft Teams.  Claimants will be informed of these options 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.

* Please note that meetings are currently being conducted via telephone or Microsoft Teams.  Once CAF LTD VRP Counsellors return to standard practice, face-to-face meetings will once again be conducted at Transition Centres or in an alternate location in the claimant’s community where possible.

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 claimant 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 be within the medical abilities/limitations of the claimant;
  • 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 will provide:

  • 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 CAF LTD Case Manager, an introduction package will be mailed to the claimant regarding the VRP support, identifying the assigned VRP counsellor, and asking the claimant to contact the counsellor;
    • If no response is obtained within 10 business days, then a follow up letter will be sent and attempts will be made to contact the claimant directly;
    • If no contact is made within 30 calendar days of the first letter, then a second registered follow up letter will be sent;
    • If no contact is obtained after an additional 30 calendar days, then a final registered letter will be sent informing that the claimant's file will be returned to their CAF LTD Case Manager for ongoing administration;
    • Once the claimant has contacted the assigned VRP 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.
  • Meeting the Claimant
    The VRP 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 CAF LTD claimants will be offered assistance to facilitate the transition from military to civilian life.

    On first meeting, the VRP counsellor will explain:
    • VRP financial support;
    • Employment preparation;
    • Job search assistance;
    • 24-month post release support;
    • Tax issues;
    • Ongoing communication requirement between the two parties;
    • Expectations;
    • Medical reassessment of the CAF LTD claim;
    • Interest-free loan support if required; and
    • Benefit offsets (Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan, Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and employment income).

Financial Support 

The VRP Operation Manager 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 will be available while a claimant is actively participating in an approved vocational rehabilitation plan.

  • Tuition and Book Fees
    • Supported by receipts, the CAF LTD VRP will cover 100% of the cost of tuition and books required for an approved vocational program.  Payments will be made using a sponsorship letter to the vocational institution; and
    • The total CAF LTD VRP maximum support for tuition and books is $30,060.00.
  • Monthly Supply Allowance
    A Monthly Supply Allowance in the amount of $49.00 will be provided to a claimant who is attending approved vocational training.
    • The Supply Allowance may be paid in advance of a semester to facilitate the purchase of necessary education supplies; and
    • No receipts will be required for the Supply Allowance and its use will cover such supplies as printer cartridges, pens, paper and binders.
  • Dependent Care
    Dependent Care costs while in training will be reimbursed at a rate of 50% of submitted receipts to a monthly maximum of $907.00 per family. Reimbursement for dependent care provided by family members living in the same household as the dependent will not be supported.
  • Internet Allowance
    An Internet Allowance will cover basic Internet fees to a maximum of $36.40 per month. Installation, hardware and maintenance fees will not be covered.
  • Travel Assistance
    Travel Assistance for private motor vehicles will be reimbursed at 24.3 cents per kilometer.
    • The distance used is to be the shortest route from the claimant’s residence to the approved place of learning;
    • Travel Assistance will not exceed $598.00 per month. Any changes will be approved by the assigned VRP counsellor; and
    • The allowance may be paid at the end of each month.
  • Dual Residency Allowance
    Dual Residency Allowance may be provided on a case-by-case basis where the need exists.
    • Dual residency will only be exercised in cases where a claimant with dependents is required 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 $598.00 per month; and
    • If dual residency is approved then Travel Assistance to return home on weekends will not be supported.
    CAF LTD VRP Allowances
    Item Allowance Amount Monthly Maximum
    Tuition and Book Fees $30,060.00  
    Supply $49.00 $49.00
    Dependent Care $907.00 $907.00
    Internet $36.40 $36.40
    Travel Assistance - Mileage $0.243 $598.00
    Dual Residency $598.00 $598.00
  • Foreign Training
    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; and
    • All reimbursements for expenses or allowances incurred in a foreign country will be in Canadian funds and allowances will be based on Canadian rates.

Employment and Business Income Offsets

All sources of employment income earned while participating in the VRP will be subject to offset from the CAF LTD benefit based on the CAF LTD VRP Income Offset Formula for Employment Earnings.

  • CAF LTD VRP Income Offset Formula for Employment Earnings
    If a claimant earns income while participating in a VRP approved by the Insurer, the claimant's CAF 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 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 an offset their CAF LTD benefits. The income amount will be based on no less than the minimum wage applicable in the relevant province. This income will be processed through the CAF LTD VRP Income Offset Formula for Employment Earnings.
  • Exceptions
    On the recommendation of the CAF LTD VRP Operations Manager, the SVP SISIP Financial, CFMWS, will consider exceptional circumstances, which are beyond the guidelines presented in this document.

Appeal Process

First Level

Any appeal in relation to the CAF LTD VRP must initially be addressed to the CAF LTD VRP counsellor or their Associate Manager to find a resolution to alleviate any misunderstandings or confusion. If a formal appeal is to be submitted, it must include a clear explanation of the issue and any supporting information the claimant may have. All formal appeals must be in writing either via email to the CAF LTD VRP appeals account,  or by letter to:

Manulife
Attn: CAF LTD
2727 Joseph Howe Drive
Halifax, NS  B3J 4G6

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 CAF LTD VRP Operations Manager, the claimant may submit a second and final appeal, in writing to:

SISIP Financial
Senior Vice President
National Office
4210 Labelle St.
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K2