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Veterans Affairs Withholds Father's Pension File from Family

The adult children of a veteran who had passed away applied for the documents in his pension file held by Veterans Affairs Canada. The Department refused to release the documents on the grounds that the Pension Act obliged it to protect personal information for 20 years after death and also that the adult children were not eligible to receive any of the veteran's pension benefits.

Through a lawyer, the children complained to our Office that the documents were necessary for the administration of their father's estate. In particular, they stated that the pension entitlement had not been fully paid and the pension claim may have been processed in bad faith by Veterans Affairs.

Our Office concluded that it was not reasonable for Veterans Affairs to dictate to an estate what information it requires in order to administer an estate. Under the Privacy Act's Regulations, the complainants are entitled to the pensioner's personal file to carry out the administration of the estate.

We upheld the complaint as well founded.

After the findings were communicated to Veterans Affairs, the Department informed us that it had released the veteran's pension file to his survivors.

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