August 21, 2013 7:20 am
Updated: August 22, 2013 10:12 am

Veterans devastated after pension payouts plummet

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SASKATOON – Jay Jorgensen feels he’s been betrayed by the Department of National Defence after finding out his estimated pension amount was nearly half what he expected it to be.

Jorgensen worked for the Canadian military for 17 years, serving in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and the Arctic.

Impressed by Saskatoon’s economic boom, he decided he had a chance at a new life.

“I’m young enough now that I can start another career and not be penalized too heavily in the public sector for starting again at my age,” he said.

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And that’s why, when given the option to cash half of his veteran’s pension, he took it, comfortable with the amount that was estimated to him.

When he got the cheque, he was devastated.

“To see a 41 per cent reduction with no explanation on the cash-out value of how that changed, is very difficult to comprehend,” he explained.

Jorgensen lost close to $50,000, and he’s not alone.

Veteran Sean Walton says he received a payout of more than 50 per cent less than estimated.

“Much the same as Jay, I made future decisions based on the financial information I was given. They had originally given me an estimate, which I understood was an estimate.”

Both vets have spent hours on the phone trying to get answers. Both have been told the shocking drops are due to market fluctuations.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP Lawyer Jana Steele deals with pensions on a daily basis. She said such a drop is unusual.

“In our experience, in a short period of time after the estimate, there usually would not be a significant fluctuation generally speaking, but subject to any other actuarial considerations that may be at play here.”

Global News reached out to the Department of National Defence, and after several days and dozens of emails back and forth, by late Tuesday afternoon, the department had this to say:

“We will continue to do our due diligence and investigate this matter internally to ensure the members are provided the support they require.”

The veterans plan to continue fighting the government for answers, so future service members don’t face the same losses.

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