2016-2017 Quick Facts
- The Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) is the independent appeal tribunal for the disability pension and disability award programs administered by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
- A Veteran need only be dissatisfied with their VAC decision to come to the Board where they have access to two levels of redress: Review and Appeal. In any given year, 6-9% of Veterans appeal their VAC disability benefits decisions to the Board.
- About three quarters of the cases heard by the Board deal with entitlement to disability benefits, while the other quarter relate to assessment of entitled disabilities. The Board also hears Reviews and Appeals on the Critical Injury Benefit and final appeals on the War Veterans Allowance.
- Applicants may bring forward new information, be represented at no cost and present arguments in support of their application for disability benefits. The Board's appeal process is non-adversarial, which means that no one is arguing against the Veteran.
- The Review hearing is the only time in the process when applicants may appear and testify about the facts of their application. Review hearings are normally conducted by two Board members and take place in locations across Canada in both official languages.
- If applicants are not satisfied with their Review decision, they may request an Appeal hearing before three different Board members. While the legislation does not permit applicants to testify in person again, they may submit written statements and new evidence. The hearing is a further opportunity for their representative to make arguments on their behalf.
- Currently, the Board has 15 members (11 work out of major cities and conduct mainly review hearings, while 4 conduct mainly appeal hearings at VRAB's Head Office in Charlottetown).
- Half of the Board’s members have military or RCMP/policing experience.
VRAB Statistics for 2016-17:
- In 2016-17, the Board finalized 2,219 Review decisions (i.e. the first level of redress) and 937 Appeal decisions (i.e. the second level of redress).
- VRAB applicant profile: 88% Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans; 3% Traditional Veterans (Second World War, Korean War); 9% RCMP.
- The Board ruled favourably in 42% of Review decisions and 26% of Appeal decisions.
- 87% of Review decisions and 88% of Appeal decisions were issued within 6 weeks of the hearing.
- If applicants have exhausted all their redress options at the Board and remain dissatisfied, they have the right to apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision. In 2016-17, 17 applicants requested a judicial review. In the same year, the Court issued 9 decisions (pending from applications made in previous years). Of these, seven upheld the Board's decision while the other two returned the application to the Board for a new hearing.
- Top 6 medical conditions at Review – number of hearings
- lower back conditions – 348
- tinnitus - 217
- hearing loss – 203
- post-traumatic stress disorder – 182
- knee conditions - 138
- neck conditions – 129
- Top 6 medical conditions at Appeal - number of hearings
- lower back conditions – 142
- neck conditions – 79
- knee conditions - 78
- hearing loss – 72
- post-traumatic stress disorder – 50
- major depressive disorder – 47
*Includes VAC decisions re: first applications for disability benefits, department reviews and medical reassessments