Young Barrie widow elated to see end of age discrimination

Posted on January 14, 2019 in Social Security Policy Context

Source: — Authors: – news
January 14, 2019.   
by Janis Ramsay Barrie Advance

Barrie widow Jen Casement-Buttineau now has a little piece of closure.

Initially denied spousal benefits under the Canada Pension Plan when her husband, Derek, died three years ago, Casement-Buttineau has just learned she can reapply — thanks to a policy change.

“Derek always wanted to support me in life and he’s supporting me in his passing,” she said. “This is such an incredible miracle for me.”

It was Derek’s kindness and intellect that drew her in after the couple met online in 2006. They married two years later, bought a home and were living happily ever after.

Things were going well for Casement-Buttineau in 2016 — the 33-year-old had just lived out her dream of playing semi-pro softball and had started a life coaching business — when her life was turned upside down.

“Derek had just turned 40, he woke up to stroke-like symptoms,” she said.

Five days later, she took him off life support. “One day you’re married, have a mortgage and the next day you’re a widow.”

Fortunately, the couple had planned for the future with life insurance, wills and mortgage insurance.

On the advice of insurance specialist Scott McEachern, Casement-Buttineau also applied for spousal Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits.

“You have to do that within a six-week window,” she said. “This is where I had discovered in fine print I was denied.”

At the time, the legislation said if a person is under 35 and has no children, they do not qualify for a spouse’s CPP. The belief was a young widow without children could adapt financially to a loss.

“My argument is Derek paid into this for 20 years, why am I being discriminated against?”

She was told to reapply at age 65.

“I felt at a loss. I was weak mentally, physically and spiritually. I was on my own now.”

She instead focused on healing from her grief.

She went to Hawaii to reconnect with her soul, returning to enrol in a masters of education in mindfulness training.

She completed the program in 13 months, graduating on what would have been her tenth wedding anniversary Dec. 6, 2018.

She has also found love in a new relationship.

And now, she’s received a letter from the government asking her to reapply for CPP.

“It said effective Jan. 1 you are no longer required to have dependent children,” Casement-Buttineau said. “My hands were shaking as I read it.”

Not only was she surprised the legislation had changed, but also because someone had gone to the trouble to send her a letter about it.

“I’m so grateful this change has happened. It provides closure for me. Financially or not, it makes a difference in my life.”

She knows there’s a small demographic of young widows in Canada, but said this change gives validation to the loss.

The Ministry of Finance made the change in 2017 after Kitchener woman, Jilian Derkson, fought the policy. The government estimates it will affect 40,000 people.

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