AMHERST – A five year long courtroom battle has finally come to an end. Canadian veterans won their class-action lawsuit against the government over their clawed back pension benefits.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is how huge this is,” said Jim Lowther, president of V.E.T.S of Canada (Veterans Emergency Transition Services). “Dennis Manuge, a guy from Nova Scotia, and a few people who helped him out along the way, won a huge settlement. Some veterans are going to get upwards of $2,000 a month of what they should have been getting. This is a game changer, it’s really going to help people.”
The lawsuit began in 2007 after Manuge, a disabled veteran, noticed his SISIP (Service Income Security Insurance Payment) was being reduced by the amount he was receiving as his lifelong pension.
Manuge wasn’t alone. Other veterans who were discharged from the military due to injury were also having their pensions deducted from their SISIP. Manuge and around 4,500 veterans rallied together to launch the lawsuit against the federal government over the deductions. The courts ruled in favour of the veterans.
Kenny John Jackson is an outreach worker for the V.E.T.S. program in the Cumberland County area. Jackson works with veterans who will benefit from this settlement and sees on a regular basis just how much this money will help them.
“I myself spent 20 years in the service and we become like a brotherhood and try to look after each other, especially those who are dying out,” he said. “For them to get this money, it’s a great thing to help improve their lives because some of them have been struggling for quite some time. Some have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and other health issues and they aren’t able to work anymore.”
Although it would have been nice to see the case won sooner than five years, Jackson said you have to be realistic. Some results, he said, take time.
“This will help because they are struggling with making their monthly bills, like power and food, clothing and stuff like that,” he said. “I feel that it will give them a better life, it will improve their quality of life.”
Lowther said distribution of the money from the settlement would depend on when veterans were discharged from service, and what their injuries are. The amount will be calculated based on that and then taxes will be taken off.
“We’re going to be able to claim some of the taxes I think,” said Lowther. “That’s what they were talking about today.”
Every case will be different but every veteran who qualifies will receives 24 months of the pay they are owed. After the 24 months, payment will depend on if a veteran is permanently disabled.