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Canadian Armed Forces veteran awarded disability benefits for Lupus

by HR Law Canada

The Veterans Review and Appeal Board has granted a disability pension to a 35-year-old veteran, who served in the Regular Force of the Canadian Armed Forces from October 2008 to July 2012.

The Panel decided to change the diagnosis from Lupus Nephritis to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) with Lupus Nephritis and awarded a four-fifths disability pension effective from Sept. 1, 2020, under Section 45 of the Veterans Well-being Act.

This decision follows the veteran’s application for disability benefits dated June 21, 2012. Initially, Veterans Affairs Canada denied entitlement in a decision dated Feb. 7, 2022, citing lack of medical evidence to relate the development of the veteran’s condition to military service. However, the veteran’s advocate sought an expanded diagnosis and partial entitlement, arguing that service stresses aggravated the condition.

Three key questions

The Panel’s analysis focused on three key questions: the validity of the diagnosis, whether the condition constitutes a permanent disability, and if the condition was caused, aggravated, or contributed to by military service.

The Panel found that the expanded diagnosis of SLE with Lupus Nephritis is valid and aligns with the treating rheumatologist’s description of the veteran’s medical condition.

Traumatic experiences a contributor?

Crucial to the Panel’s decision was a medical opinion from rheumatologist Dr. Alexandra Legge which confirmed that the veteran’s military service, including traumatic experiences, could have contributed to the development of SLE with Lupus Nephritis.

The veteran, who is currently undergoing treatment for PTSD related to military service, was first diagnosed with SLE in February 2010, shortly after returning from training.

The Panel concluded that the rigors of service, particularly stress, significantly aggravated the veteran’s medical condition.

For more information, see 100004862358 (Re), 2023 CanLII 126372 (CA VRAB)

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