Your Transition to Civilian Life – The Three Phases of Medical Release

Contact Us

If at any time during this process you need more information or have questions, the Ombudsman Offices are ready to help.

Office of the Ombudsman for National Defence and the Canadian Forces
1-888-828-3626
ombudsman-communications@forces.gc.ca

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman
1-877-330-4343
info@ombudsman-veterans.gc.ca

The following tool is meant to serve as a guideline for medically-releasing Canadian Armed Forces members. It is not a policy or set of instructions that must be followed. The order of events and steps may vary depending on the circumstances of the medical release.

Phase 1

Phase 1 | Period of Time Between the Injury or the Diagnosis of an Illness and When the Director Military Careers Administration (DMCA) Makes the Decision for a Medical Release

Note: The following table is meant to serve as a guideline for medically-releasing Canadian Armed Forces members. It is not a policy or set of instructions that must be followed. The order of events and steps may vary depending on the circumstances of the medical release.

Key Events

Key Steps and Resources

I have been in an accident, been injured or been diagnosed with an illness

→ Fill out a “CF-98, Report of Injury, Disease or Illness” form and gather the names and contact information of any witnesses to obtain their statements.

→ Have your condition assessed to obtain diagnosis and treatment.

→ If you are a Reservist, contact your Commanding Officer and local Integrated Personnel Support Centre (IPSC) as soon as possible to find out if you are entitled to compensation and/or benefits through either Reserve Force Compensation (RFC) (CBI 210.72) or the Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA).

  • In the case of GECA, your Commanding Officer must report your injury/illness within three days if it is service-related and requires medical attention or results in lost time
  • In the case of RFC, your parent unit will initiate the request for compensation by completing a “DND 2398, Reserve Force – Compensation during a Period of Injury, Disease or Illness” form

→ Read the Director Casualty Support Management’s Guide to Benefits, Programs and Services for Serving and Former Canadian Armed Forces Members and their Families.

→ Contact Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) to see if you are entitled to VAC benefits.

→ Create your My VAC Account online.

I have received a Temporary Category (TCat)

→ Discuss with your health care providers the treatment and prognosis associated with your condition.

→ Find out what services are available to you by contacting your local IPSC.

→ If you are/will be returning to work, discuss with your medical officer/physician the possibility of participating in the Canadian Forces Return to Work Program.

→ Look into the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) Long Term Disability (LTD)1 to see what benefits you may be entitled to if you are medically released or qualify as “totally disabled."

I have received a Permanent Medical Category (PCat)

→ Note that a PCat does not automatically lead to a medical release, but high risk Medical employment Limitations (MEL) that breach Universality of Service (U of S) will result in release unless they are reassessed as low risk by the CAF medical system; discuss the possible outcomes with your chain of command.

→ Discuss with your health care providers the treatment and prognosis associated with your condition.

  • You will be referred to a CAF Nurse Case Manager in order to discuss either a return-to-duty plan or your transition out of the military; the Nurse Case Manager is your link to continuity of care.

→ Contact your local base/wing Personnel Selection Office or Education Office to obtain information on the services available to you, such as career counselling.

→ Consider participating in a Second Career Assistance Network (SCAN) Program seminar by contacting your Personnel Selection Office or Education Office or by registering online if you have access to the Defence Information Network (DIN).

→ Apply to SISIP LTD

→ Request a transition interview with VAC.

→ We encourage you to involve your family as early as possible in the transition process.

→ Share your concerns, explore options together, and get information about possible benefits and services that may be available specifically for CAF Regular Force families or Reserve Force families .

I am undergoing a transition needs complexity assessment 2 by the Nurse Case Manager

→ Familiarize yourself with the CAF Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Serving Members (VRPSM) and SISIP LTD Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VRP)

  • VRPSM information packages and planning materials are available from IPSCs of the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU).

→ If your transition needs are assessed as complex, participate in the development of an Integrated Transition Plan (ITP).

I am undergoing an Administrative Review (AR) Process

Carefully read the advisory message and related documents you receive from the Director Military Careers Administration (DMCA) related to the Administrative Review of Medical Employment Limitations (AR/MEL).

→ After you receive your disclosure package, provide written representations or additional documents to your Commanding Officer within 15 working days3 (or request a short extension if necessary).

  • Representation is your chance to inform DMCA about your ideal outcome (i.e., your plan, your ideal release date, and whether you would like to be considered for a period of retention), and to provide any information you think DMCA should consider in making a decision.

→ Prepare a waiver of disclosure memo if you do not wish to be considered for a period of retention, do not want to submit any representation and do not want to review the information that DMCA will use to make their decision.

  • Ensure you discuss the potential impact of this waiver with your chain of command, and consider meeting with your Case Manager, Personnel Selection Officer and IPSC before submitting a waiver.
  • Note that this waiver will greatly accelerate the decision process at DMCA, and your release decision will be rendered with a target response time of one week.

→ If you have not already done so, contact VAC for a transition interview to find out what benefits and services you may be entitled to.

  1.  If you are medically released, SISIP Financial will be notified and will verify your eligibility. Your local Case Manager will provide you with the LTD claim package.
  2. The criteria used to determine the complexity of transition needs will include severity of the injury or illness, psycho-social factors and functional limitations resulting from the illness or injury. Note that sometimes a complexity assessment will be completed before the issuance of medical employment limitations (MELs).
  3. Within 30 calendar days for Reservists on Class A.
Phase 2

Phase 2 | Period of Time Between the Receipt of the Medical Release Decision and the Actual Release Date

Note: The following table is meant to serve as a guideline for medically-releasing Canadian Armed Forces members. It is not a policy or set of instructions that must be followed. The order of events and steps may vary depending on the circumstances of the medical release.

Key Events

Key Steps and Resources

I have received a decision message following the Director Military Careers Administration (DMCA) Administrative Review of Medical Employment Limitations (AR/MEL)

→ If your medical employment limitations are found to breach the Universality of Service1 requirements, there are three possible medical release outcomes of your Administrative Review of Medical Employment Limitations (AR/MEL):

  • Release due to medical reasons within 6 months – Non-complex transition2 (Transition)
  • Release due to medical reasons within 3 years – Employable full-time in some capacity in your rank and the Military Occupational Structure ID (MOSID) in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) based on CAF requirements, if your MOSID is in critical shortage, and a position is available (Retention)
  • Release due to medical reasons between 6 months and 3 years – Complex transition (Transition)

→ Note that your release item can be changed up to and including your effective release date to better describe the most appropriate reason for release.

→ Discuss your MELs with your CAF Nurse Case Manager to better plan for your transition to civilian life, and consider applying for Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) Long Term Disability (LTD).3

→ You may choose to release before the end of the period indicated in your release message.

  • You should discuss this with your case manager, local IPSC staff, and/or orderly room support staff (B/W Admin O) prior to making your decision, as there may be an impact on benefits and the CAF will not change your release category after you have released.
  • For members wishing to cease a period of retention, a memo requesting this change must be sent to the Director Military Careers Administration (DMCA) via your chain of command
  • If you choose to advance your release, inform your SISIP Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VRP) Counsellor, even if your application is not yet complete so that timely support is provided.

→ If you haven’t already, read the Director Casualty Support Management’s Guide to Benefits, Programs and Services for Serving and Former Canadian Armed Forces Members and their Families.

→ If you haven’t already, consider contacting your Personnel Selection Office or Education Office to obtain information on the services available to you and/or to register for a Second Career Assistance Network (SCAN) Program seminar (you can also register online if you have access to the Defence Information Network [DIN]4).

→ If you are a Reservist, you may want to review the Before You Go repository, which provides links to the sources for various programs available specifically to the Reserve Force and Reserve Force Veterans.

→ Apply for an occupancy extension if you are living in a Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) unit and think you may need to stay past your release date.5

→ Consider making a civilian Last Will and Testament and a Power of Attorney, as your military Will may no longer be valid after your release.6

→ If you haven’t already, speak with a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) representative to see if you are eligible for VAC benefits and to set up your transition interview; and create your My VAC Account online.

→ If you plan on using your priority hiring entitlement and your upcoming medical release is related to your CAF service, you can initiate the "VAC 1002 - Medical Release Attributable to Service Determination" prior to your planned date of release.7

  • This submission can be done through My VAC Account, or by downloading the “VAC 1002” form from the VAC website and mailing it in.
  • Note that it may take up to 16 weeks for VAC to determine whether your medical release is the result of a service-related injury or disease or a non-service-related injury or disease that was aggravated by service, for the purposes of statutory priority hiring.
  • This can be done as early as 30 days prior to your final release date, but you will not be considered a priority person until your final paid day of service has passed.

 I have my initial release interview with the CAF Release Section (Part I)

→ Read the Release Statement of Understanding (SOU) that is provided to you at the interview; if you have questions, seek answers prior to your final release interview, which takes place on your last working day.

 I am preparing for the civilian workforce

→ Consider applying to the CAF Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Serving Members (VRPSM) in consultation with your Chain of Command. 

  • If eligible, request approval from your Commanding Officer to participate in an approved transitional activity (such as on-the-job training, work experience, or a civilian vocational rehabilitation training program) for up to six months prior to your release, or the start of your retirement leave, if applicable.
  • Financial support for approved educational transitional activities may be available through the CAF (such as the Skills Completion Program – Regular Force and the Education Reimbursement – Primary Reserve Program) and through SISIP8 – see the section below titled “I need financial support post-release.”
  • You can obtain VRPSM information packages and planning materials from the closest IPSC of the JPSU.
  • You will receive an application for SISIP LTD/VRP from the CAF Case Manager or you may download it from SISIP's website

→ If you are interested in a job in the Federal Public Service, get information about priority hiring.

  • You can read the Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police released or discharged for medical reasons – Guide on Priority Administration.
  • If applicable, contact your SISIP VRP Counsellor to get help preparing a priority hiring résumé.
  • Contact Director Casualty Support Management (DCSM) at 1-800-883-6094 or DCSM-DGSB@forces.gc.ca to request a letter stating that you are medically released.
  • Once a competent authority9 provides you with a letter10 certifying you as fit to return to work, you can register/activate your priority status by contacting your local DND Civilian Human Resources Service Centre.
  • Note that you must activate the priority entitlement within five years of being released, and the entitlement period is a maximum of five years (which may be started any time within the five years) based on the date indicated in the certification of fitness.
  • Hiring organizations may request that you be assessed through interviews, written exams or other assessment methods, just like candidates in a regular appointment process; your HR advisor can provide you with information on different assessment methods and how to prepare.

→ Consider applying for VAC’s Rehabilitation Services within 120 days of release from the CAF.

I need to obtain key documents

→ Request copies of your personnel file,11 medical and dental documents, and “CF-98, Report of Injury, Disease or Illness” form (if applicable)12.

→ Apply for a provincial or territorial health card as soon as possible in order to avoid a gap in health care coverage.

I need financial support post-release

→ Be informed of the current CAF pension timelines 13 and SISIP LTD timelines,14 and plan for your financial needs during the period of time immediately after release until receipt of your first payment, if applicable.

→ Check to see what financial benefits are available to releasing members – such as and Intended Place of Residence (IPR) – and apply for the ones for which you believe you are eligible.

  • Note that some VAC benefits are available to still serving members; VAC is also able to render many New Veterans Charter Program eligibility decisions pre-release so that services and benefits are available immediately after release.

→ If you will be participating in the CAF VRPSM, contact SISIP as early as nine months before your release date.

  • SISIP LTD VRP funding can start up to six months pre-release and covers expenses such as tuition and books (up to $25K) and certain allowances and other needs and supports.
  • Note that SISIP VPR is available as long as the member qualifies for SISIP LTD and the need for VRP exists.15

→ Tax credits and deductions are available for persons with disabilities, their supporting family members, and their caregivers; look into the disability tax credit to see if you are eligible.

I need health and dental coverage post-release

→ CAF members in receipt of a pension, annuity or annual allowance are eligible to receive health and dental coverage through the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) and the Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan.

  • If interested, fill out the application forms that come with your pension package.
  • Note that it can often take two or three months for both health and dental coverage to start on new pensions, but coverage will be backdated to the day after release in most cases.

→ VAC Group Health Insurance helps eligible veterans and their families who would not otherwise qualify for the PSHCP after their release from the CAF; you can apply if you are:

  • A former CAF member who released on or after April 1, 2006, and been approved for SISIP LTD.
  • A former CAF member who is eligible for the Rehabilitation Program but not eligible for the PSHCP post-release.
  • The survivor of a CAF member or veteran who died after April 1, 2006, as a result of a service-related injury or illness, and you are not otherwise eligible for the PSHCP.

I need life insurance post-release

→ Released CAF members can apply for term life insurance coverage under the SISIP Insurance for Released Members (IRM).

  • You will have 60 days from your effective release date to transfer existing coverage as a serving CAF member.
  •  For further information, Regular Force members can call 1-800-267-6681; Reserve Force and released members can contact Manulife Financial at 1-800-565-0701.

I have my final release interview with the CAF Release Section (Part II)

→ Provide the release section with your most recent mailing address, phone number and e-mail address; this will ensure that all your pay and pension-related documents and payments will be sent to the right place. 

→ Should you need information regarding your last CAF pay, you can contact the Released Personnel Pay Office.

  1. DAOD 5023-1
  2. CAF Health Services Nurse Case Managers use a comprehensive Complexity Assessment process using a standardized tool, which helps determine the complexity of a member’s transition. It is done during the initial case management assessment and is reassessed if the member’s condition changes or if more than one year passes. It is finalized with the support of the clinical team, under the professional guidance and responsibility of the local base/wing surgeons. The final assessment of complex vs non-complex takes into account information about the illness or injury, functional limitations, mental health, the psycho-social factors and the ability of the healthcare system that will be responsible for the member’s care after release to meet the member’s needs.
  3. The CAF Nurse Case Manager will provide you the application and arrange the medical assessment.
  4. The DND/CAF’s Intranet site is available only to individuals with access to the DND/CAF network.
  5. You will be considered a Priority 1 applicant if you are eligible to move to an Intended Place of Residence (IPR) or if you are enrolled in an approved career transition or training program. Extensions may be authorized based on the availability of housing units and at the discretion of the Housing Services Centre manager.
  6. The CAF provides each member with the opportunity, at enrolment, to make or review a will. A yearly review is also part of the Annual Personnel Readiness Verification (APRV).
  7. This process does not have to be done after release. A member acting proactively can have the VAC determination completed in time to line up with his/her date of release. This can help members who want to seek priority hiring status for a job in the Federal Public Service (see the section “I am preparing for the civilian workforce”).
  8. SISIP can also provide funding supportfor some aspects of the VRPSM
  9. DCSM considers a competent authority to be "a medical professional who is familiar with your medical history"
  10. Note that you must have a fitness letter dated within th five-year window following the final date of your release. Even if VAC's determination process for statutory priority eligibility goes beyond the five year window, you must still have a fitness letter dated within that period following medical release.
  11. Your personnel file will be audited following your release. You should request anoter copy after the audit.
  12. Your personnel (includig your F-98 form), and medical and dental documents are available from your orderly room clerk/suport staff, medical officer administrative staff and dental administration staff, respectively.
  13. According to the Canada.ca webpage on CAF pensions, the Government of Canada Pension Centre normally issues your first pension payment by direct deposit within 45 calendar days after the date of retirement, provided that all of your documents have been received by the Pension Centre.
  14. Once you are approved, the LTD benefits are paid starting the day following your effective date of release from the CAF.
  15. The initial 30-month VRP peiod can be extended if the former member qalifies as totally disabled at the end of their post release 4-month period.
Phase 3

Phase 3 | Period of Time Between the Release Date and Approximately Two Years after the Release

Note: The following table is meant to serve as a guideline for medically-released Canadian Armed Forces members. It is not a policy or set of instructions that must be followed. The order of events and steps may vary depending on the circumstances of the medical release.

Key Events

Key Steps and Resources

I need transitional support for myself and my family

→ If you haven’t already, read the Director Casualty Support Management’s Guide to Benefits, Programs and Services for Serving and Former Canadian Armed Forces Members and their Families as well as the Director of Military Family Service’s Easing Your Transition – Veteran Family Journal.

→ Ensure you have applied for Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) Long Term Disability (LTD), and contact them to confirm your monthly LTD income benefits.

→ Contact Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Assistance Services if you have any concerns that are affecting your well-being. You can reach a mental health professional at any time - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - by calling 1800-268-7708

→ Check to see if you are releasing at one of the seven locations where the four-year pilot project entitled Veteran Family Program is available.

  • This program is providing medically-released veterans and their families with access to the Military Family Services Program for two years from the date of release.

I am eligible for a move to an Intended Place of Residence (IPR)

→ If you are eligible for a move to an IPR and have not yet started the process, remember the time limit to complete the move is one year after your release date with a possibility of an additional year under extenuating circumstances.

→ To apply for an IPR, contact the release section at the base closest to your release location.

I am eligible for a pension

→ Your benefits payable under the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act are based, in part, on your years of pensionable service and which Plan you contributed to (i.e., Regular or Reserve Force); for example:

  • If you participated under Part I (Regular Force) for at least 10 years and you are disabled, you will be entitled to an immediate annuity (i.e., pension).
  • If you participated under Part I (Regular Force) for more than two years but less than 10 years, you will be entitled to a transfer value or a deferred annuity, whether or not you are disabled.
  • If you participated under Part I.1. (Reserve Force) for less than two years, you will be entitled to a return of contributions.
  • If you participated under Part I.1. (Reserve Force) for more than two years, you will be entitled to an immediate annuity if you meet certain criteria – see Reserve Force Pension Plan Regulations, section “Participant Who Has Not Less Than Two Years of Pensionable Service,” for details

→ If you have questions about your pension, including pension payment timelines, you can contact CAF Pension Services toll-free at 1-800-267-0325.

→ Be informed about pension indexing and how the Canadian Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan will affect your CAF pension benefits.

I need to ensure that appropriate benefits are in place
 

→ If applicable, contact SISIP at 1-800-565-0701 to determine your file status, update your address, obtain information about your LTD benefits and your involvement with the SISIP LTD Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VRP).

→ If you have been in contact with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), follow up with them to confirm that you will start receiving the benefits that were initiated and approved prior to your release.

→ If you are relocating after your release, advise VAC so your file can be transferred to your new location.

→ If you have not previously been in contact with VAC, and you experience difficulties after your release, it is important that you speak with a VAC representative to discuss potential applications for benefits and/or services. This can be done:

→ Note that some future financial benefits from VAC are dependent on being in the VAC Rehabilitation Program.

→ If you haven’t already done so, apply for a provincial or territorial health card as soon as possible in order to avoid a gap in health care coverage.

→ If you’ve applied for health care and dental benefits, contact the providers to ensure your benefits are in place:

  • Public Service Health Care Plan: 1-800-267-6542
  • Public Service Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan: 1-800-267-0350

I have to identify my needs

→ Pay attention to any new or changing needs after your release; for example:

  • Have new service-related medical conditions developed? If so, contact VAC or SISIP to see if you qualify for other benefits and to ensure your coverage remains up to date and continues to be applicable
  • Is your family having any difficulties? 
  • Is your VAC Rehabilitation Plan still meeting your needs?

→ Ensure you contact VAC and your SISIP Case Manager if you run into any issues.

I am going through a personal event

→ Pension benefits can be affected by life events such as a change in marital/relationship status, disability, and/or death of a pensioner or survivor.

→ You can find more information on these personal events in your specific pension plan:

I want to participate in other veterans’ programs

→ Browse through services available for veterans and their families through the Morale and Welfare Services Directory.

→ Have a look at the official discount program of the Canadian Forces Community, and apply for the CFOne Card for discounts, travel deals, CANEX rewards, and other services.

→ Access the services of the Royal Canadian Legion – you don’t have to be a member.

→ Apply to the Canadian Legacy Project Vet Fit Program and get a discount on your GoodLife membership.

I want to stay up to date on military and veterans’ matters

→ Follow the research of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research.

→ Follow news and updates from Military Family Services.

→ If you need information regarding your pay, pension, access to personal information, etc., contact DND/CAF.

→ Follow the Veterans Ombudsman and the National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman on social media

 

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