Well firstly I would like to say that one of my goals for DCAC this year is to take the time to make regular blog entries. I get a lot of emails from people out there who find the blog entries helpful and informative and of course that is my goal, to keep you up to date on what is happening in CPP land.
The first thing I would like to talk about the changes that the Office of The Commissioner of Review Tribunals has made which have significantly impacted my work as well as other individuals who case manage CPP appeals. I also believe it has impact on the client as well which has been born out in the appeals that I have been at since the change was implicated. I am not critizing the staff at OCRT, budgets have been cut and changes to meet budget have to be made. In the past the Review Tribunal would send both the client and the case manager a copy of the hearing file that was numbered, indexed, and bound. This will no longer happen. As well, the Appellant will no longer receive copies of documents that HRSDC has sent to the Review Tribunal office - they will only be sent to the case manager or advocate. The Appellant will also not receive a copy of the any of the hearing documents - other than a letter which says when their appeal is scheduled.
Okay so for me, the person who I am helping will have no idea what is in their file before the Review Tribunal unless I copy the file and send it to them - which essentially means - while the government is saving money - the people who are helping the people, who the Feds have often in my opinion unfairly denied to begin with - are not. Do you get my drift here?
The only way the Appellant can keep on top of what is going on in their appeal or know what documents exist is if I send them a copy. So many times clients have gone through their files and have had no idea of the reports that have been written or conversations with Feds that have been taken out of context - all of this just adds another layer of complexity to the mix.
For individuals who pay disbursements the fees will become increased.
But even with all of this - what I find the most disturbing - is that the Tribunal hearings are becomming more and more challenging -without page numbering there are delays as we all shift through documents - it disrupts the flow of the hearing - and it wastes time - an appellant is typically allowed one and a half hours to explain why they meet the legislative criteria - and now I am spending time with panel members shuffling documents. My last issue is the fact that often there are documents missing - it happens to me all the time.
If you do not have someone to advocate for you then all the documents will still be sent to you. But just keep in mind that you have to manage these documents and sometimes I find it an overwhelming task - let alone a person has a disability - the paper trail for me is onerous.
I wonder how the cuts in the Fed's budget is going to impact the denial rates. I think it is going to be a very interesting year. It is almost a perfect storm for claims - aging populations, the economy, and I really anecdotally see the increase in denials, the increase in processing times to even hear a decision. I know I got an email last week from someone who told me she had put her application in two weeks ago and she wanted to know what the hold up was - I did laugh out loud - and this person was really ticked at the answer I gave her.
So please keep me informed of what is going on in the trenches. If you need help do not hesitate to email - it may take me a bit to get back to you though so please be patient.
Happy New Year.