CPP Social Security Tribunal - Notice of Readiness

Please understand this document that will be sent to any person who was waiting for an CPP appeal at the old Review Tribunal level or who has to appeal to the new Social Security Tribunal.

The new Social Security Tribunal rules now require that every party to the appeal must sign a Notice of Readiness indicating that they are ready to proceed - and only after this document is signed will the Social Security Tribunal move to the next step which is processing and scheduling your appeal. 

No one should sign this document unless they are completely comfortable that they have all the information they wish to present, and have taken all the steps necessary to get this information in order to have their case considered.  You have 365 days from the date your appeal is received by the Social Security Tribunal to sign the Notice of Readiness.

As I have said in prior blog entires - I have concerns about this process for numerous different reasons.  Circumstances can change in the blink of an eye - new medical tests can discover diagnoses that were not on the table before, it can take a long time to get a medical appointment, Minimum Qualifying Period dates can change - working in this process now for as long as I have - situations,  especially disability are ever-changing.  So if you wait the year - in order to get all the information you need to establish you are disabled - how much longer are you going to have to wait after that to get an appeal?

Alot of the individuals I work with may not understand the importance of the document, the Notice of Readiness that they are signing.  I am afraid there is little transperancy when it comes to dealing with the CPP disability process.  How is an person, without understanding the rules of the game, expected to know whether they have submitted all of the information they should in order to be ready for an appeal?

How is paper documentation going to quantify the experience of subjective symptoms - like pain or mood or fatigue?

Okay I think it is going to take a while before appeals at the Social Security Tribunal are going to be heard.  It is a time of transition.  So in the meantime, it is critically important that you review your appeal documentation that was sent to you by the old Review Tribunal office or CPP disability and check to see what documents are included.  Also look for information about your MQP - remember that is your MAGIC DATE  - it is located throughout your file - usually December of a given year.  You need to make sure you have collected information to establish your disability from your MQP to present. 

Contact me if you need further clarification.  As I am not travelling for a while you can call me in the office or send me an email.

 

 

Some information on the SST

All appellants will receive a letter from the Social Security Tribunal by the end of this month advising them of the next steps since their file has been transferred to the SST. 

Individuals who will now be at the General Division (old Review Tribunal or new appeals to the SST) will receive information on the Notice of Readiness process and a copy of the Notice of Readiness itself. The regulations state that every party to the appeal has to sign the Notice of Readiness indicating they are ready to proceed. 

Please be advised that once you submit this form  - no additional information can be submitted.  Please do not sign this form until you have consulted with an expert.

Still no information as to when the appeals will actually begun to be heard.

 

CPP Disability Please Advise?

I just got off the phone with Lyndon.  I have written about Lyndon in prior blog enties.

He is a man without a label - many functional limitations - has had appointments with many doctors - has had many doctor's letters written to CPP disability supporting his appeal - but still he has been denied because he has no label - no medical diagnosis. 

Lyndon has been dealing with the CPP Disability appeals system for at least 18 months.

He was denied at Reconsideration and we had appealed to the now defunct Review Tribunal and he has been transferred over to the CPP Social Security Tribunal.

Lyndon phoned me this morning - he was crying.  He had gone to his provincial government for disability funding but he and his wife had been denied because she makes too much income (less than $1500 per month). 

They have gone through all their savings - all their retirement savings.  He and his wife are now about to become homeless.  He gave me his sister's number so I can get in touch with him.

He asked me how long this process is going to take - and I gave him the only answer I can.  I DON"T KNOW.  And I do not know because no body from the government will give us the information. 

I am really  heartbroken for Lyndon.  The desperation he is feeling.  I just do not know what to say to someone who is losing everything because of this system.

I would really appreciate a call back CPP Social Security Tribunal.  I have not had any response to my questions.

 

 

 

Social Security Tribunal - Information Line

Okay so one of my colleagues advised me that I need to give the CPP Social Security Tribunal a chance.  That it is going to take some time before things are going to be up and running.

Today I phoned the "Information Line"  my request was simple.  I have additional information I would like to submit in support of a claim that was previously at the Review Tribunal level which would have then been referred over to the CPP Social Security Tribunal.

I said - what do I use for a file number?  Should I use a Social Insurance Number?  Should I use the old Review Tribunal file number?

After the agent mirrored back my question - she said she would have to get some one to call me back because she did not know this information.

I tried not to get excited - I asked can I please speak to someone at the SST?  This is Allison Schmidt calling.  I want to work with this office - I want to try and figure out how to help these people who are waiting for appeals - I want to move things along - I want them to have hearings and have their cases heard.  These people are people for goodness sake.

I was told that they would not give me a direct line to an agent.  I said okay I want to speak with a supervisor.  They would not give me a direct line to a supervisor.

My last blog was a copy of an email I have sent directly to the SST.  I want answers to my questions from someone.

I know for a fact that the Feds read this blog.  Please can someone call me directly - can someone give me the information we all need. Can someone please help me?

 

 

Social Security Tribunal - I want some information

This is Allison Schmidt from the Disability Claims Advocacy Clinic Inc. in Regina, Saskatchewan.

 

I have numerous files at both the Pension Appeals Board and Review Tribunal level that have now been transferred over to the SST.

 

I have the following questions I required a written answer to so that I may understand the process and so that I may advise the clients who cases I am managing.

 

1.            When will the appeals start to be heard?  Some of these individuals are waiting a significant amount of time already and the number of calls per day requesting an answer as to when their appeals will be heard are becoming onerous.  Please advise when I may tell my clients that the appeals will start to be heard?

 

2.            It says in the Regulations that the Tribunal member will be deciding what type of appeal a client will receive.  Do appellants have the opportunity to put forth their own preference as to how they wish to be heard?  For example, am I as representative able to ask for a certain type of hearing?

 

3.            Where will appeals be heard?  If I am a representative where will I be expected to attend in order to support my client?

 

4.            The Notice of Readiness form?  Are there exceptions?  For example, if a client signs a Notice of Readiness form in desperation because that is the document that needs to be signed in order to get a hearing, and then decides they need a representative, will the representative be able to submit additional information?  What if the client has a forward MQP and is entitled to present all the information they can to support their case?

 

5.            I have numerous individuals who work with my office - in terms of authorizations - if I note DCAC Inc on the authorization to disclose - will this cover all the staff who work in my office?  Or is it only the individual who is listed on the authorization who has permission to speak with the SST?

 

6.            When a Tribunal Member seeks advice from medical or legal experts within the SST, is the advice they receive put in to documentary form for all parties of the appeal to access?  If the Notice of Readiness has been signed is the appellant going to have an opportunity to respond to this information?

7.            If a client was granted Leave to Appeal prior to the implementation of the SST what level of appeal will the case be at the SST - general or appeals division?

 

I would appreciate a written response to my questions please.

 

Allison Schmidt

 

 

A call out .

I have been fortunate that several previous panel members from the Review Tribunal level have contacted my office offering to assist as DCAC continues to grow.  I have found these relationships to be very beneficial as they are experienced and well  aware of the CPP adjudication process and the need for professional case-management.

As more Canadians become aware of the need for professional advice through the application and appeals process, demand for our service is increasing.

If there are any previous Review Tribunal Panel members or staff who feel they would be able to assist me to meet the national demand, and who are interested in managing their own caseload in whatever province they may reside, please do not hesitate to contact me to explore this relationship.

Allison

CPP Social Security Tribunal - Notice of Readiness - Proceed with Caution

A new provision for the CPP Social Security Tribunal is that all parties to the appeal have to sign and file a NOTICE OF READINESS.  The Notice of Readiness has to be singed and filed within 365 days of filing a claim with the CPP Social Security Tribunal. 

By signing the Notice of Readiness, a party is indicating that he or she has NO ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION or SUBMISSIONS to provide and that they are ready to proceed with their hearing.

The CPP Social Security Tribunal can only proceed with the appeal once the Notice of Readiness has been signed and filed or once 365 days have gone by since the SST has accepted your Notice of Appeal form.

None of the parties can file additional documents or submissions once the SST receives a completed Notice of Readiness from all parties.

None of the parties can also file additional documents or submissions one year after the date the appeal was filed with the SST unless an extension request has been made.  A Tribunal Member can accept of reject this request.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION AND DO NOT SIGN A NOTICE OF READINESS UNTIL YOU HAVE CONSULTED WITH A PROFESSIONAL.

Unless you sign a Notice of Readiness you cannot get an appeal hearing date scheduled.  It is my feeling that many individuals will sign this Notice of Readiness in desperation as they will want to get their appeal heard as soon as possible due to financial concerns.

If an appellant signs a Notice of Readiness without a professional review of their appeal file, they could be doing significant harm to their case and appeal.  A representative would be prevented from submitting additional information in order to help with your appeal, as well they would be prevented from providing submission outlining why you should qualify for CPP disability benefits.

You may have outstanding medical evidence that needs to be collected, or you may have to submit additional supporting documents that only a representative might know about in terms of relevance to the success of your appeal.

As the appeals grounds are becomming more narrow if the appeal to the General Division of the SST is denied, it is critically important that you proceed with caution when now signing any documentation.

 

CPP Social Security Tribunal

I note in my recent blogs that I have been negative concerning my feelings about the implementation of the CPP Social Security Tribunal.

I would like to suggest that we all give the CPP Social Security Tribunal some time to come through on the statement that it will be a "seamless transition" for appellants currently waiting for hearings or who will have to deal with this new system in the future.   It is also my goal to have a seamless transition to this new system for my clients.

I hope that like the Review Tribunal and the Pension Appeals Board, DCAC Inc will be able to establish a great working relationship with the CPP Social Security Tribunal and I hope to have the same level of respect for this new system as I have had for the previous appeal bodies.

As I work in the "trenches" everyday, I hope the CPP Social Security Tribunal executive will reach out to me and my office in the hopes that we can work together to do the very best we can for the Canadian people who are working within  this new system.

It remains to be seen how this will all evolve and I hope that my organization can also become part of this seamless transition.

CPP Disability Myths

I have wanted to write this blog entry for a while.

Everyday I get calls from people who seem to believe information about CPP disability that I would consider to be completely inaccurate or a myth.

So I have decided to address these myths and provide alternative information.  To illustrate the falsehood of the CPP disability myths I have used cases I have worked on.

MYTH 1:  YOUR DOCTOR NEEDS TO STATE YOU ARE "SEVERE AND PROLONGED" IN A LETTER

I had this one the other day.  A lady called me and said she had been denied CPP disability but she could not understand why as her doctor had written in a letter that her disability was "severe and prolonged"  I asked if she had the doctor's letter and if she could read it to me.  She proceeded to read and the letter might have been a paragraph long from the doctor stating that her disability was Rheumatoid Arthritis - that she had been unable to work for approximately 12 months and that her disability was "severe and prolonged".  The lady was pleased because the doctor had used the "right" words, but in my opinion and experience - that type of letter would carry little weight.  It is more helpful to have your doctor discuss why your disability is severe and prolonged - for example, what are your functional limitations - are you able to be dependable or reliable as a result of your medical condition; how does your medical condition impact your capacity to work.  Severe and prolonged are just words and without explaining why your disability is severe and prolonged I do not think it will help much.  The same goes for scrawling - "this patient has a severe and prolonged disability" on a prescription pad.  I have seen that happen.   I just think it is helpful to explain why you meet the severe and prolonged criteria. If you scroll down you will see more information on how to collect medical reports as well in the appeal guide there is a sample medical letter.

MYTH 2:  YOUR DOCTOR SAYS YOU WILL NEVER QUALIFY

This happens quite frequently.  Someone will phone me discouraged because their doctor is not being supportive either with a desire to apply for CPP disability - or if you are trying to appeal a CPP disability denial.  The doctor will say you will never qualify.  I can understand why they would likely feel this way as I have seen over many  years of cases, doctors writing really strong letters of support indicating why someone is disabled only to have their patient be denied again despite what the doctors have said.  If you are faced with this situation, I advise my clients to say, that they understand how frustrating it is for the doctor's opinions to be ignored but that you need the information and wish to continue on with the application or appeal.  Most times I find that doctors work hard to help out but of course they are also very busy and hate paper work (perhaps that is a myth!).

MYTH 3: YOU HAVE TO BE DEAD, DYING, OR A COMPLETE INVALID TO QUALIFY FOR CPP DISABILITY BENEFITS

Not true.  You have to have a disability that is severe and prolonged as defined in Section 42(2)(a) of the Canada Pension Plan Act.  You must be found disabled according to these legislative provisions - you must be found incapable of regularly pursuing any substantially gainful occupation.  As I have said numerous times this definition does not say you have to be dead, dying, or an invalid to qualify.  Read through my blogs and you will find some helpful information about how this definition is interpreted.

MYTH 4:  EVERYONE IS DENIED A CPP DISABILITY BENEFIT ON THE FIRST APPLICATION

Well not everyone but between 50 - 60 percent are denied on first application - and I really think the people that are approved are either terminal or have catastrophic disability.  So this myth has some truth to it.  I think chances increase if you have someone help you to audit your application - there is also an application guide on this website.  Persistance does seem to pay off - you cannot give up if you have been found disabled and you know you should meet the criteria.  Unfortunately there are legislative technicalities that you cannot avoid, like minimum qualifying period dates or the 15 month rule if you have been on CPP early retirement. 

MYTH 5:  CPP DISABILITY WILL GET ALL THE INFORMATION THEY NEED IN ORDER TO DETERMINE YOUR ELIGIBILITY

Not true.  It is your responsibility or onus to establish that you meet the criteria of CPP disability.  Sometimes the Fed's will develop the file and collect additional information, but not in all cases.  So if you are applying for or appealing a denial, you need to ensure that all the information is submitted.  This is even more important now with the creation of the CPP Social Security Tribunal.  The only time the onus or responsibility is not the appellants is if it is a reassessment case.  Then it is up to the Feds to prove you have regained your capacity to work.  This myth also includes the fact that you can ask CPP doctors to examine you - or request an independent medical consult - this used to happen in limited cases at the higher level of appeals but not for applications or reconsiderations.

MYTH 6:  THE 1-800 OR SERVICE CANADA STAFF KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT

Again not my intention to be rude to these staff but I have often found that these staff members do not give client's the correct information.  Not in terms of general information, but the CPP Disability adjudication and appeals system is complex.  If you have been given information by a 1-800 staff then I would search online and see what you can find.  I had one lady who had breast cancer who was told by a Service Canada staff member that she would never qualify because her breast cancer could be cured.  This simple answer does not provide all the information required in order to determine whether or not you could or would qualify.

MYTH 7:  YOU CANNOT WORK AND/OR YOU CANNOT TRY TO WORK IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR OR APPEALING A CPP DISABILITY

This is one of the myths that aggravates me the most.  I see it all the time in letters of denial.  Well you are working so you do not meet the requirements, or you tried to work so you do not meet the requirements, or how do you know you cannot work when you have not tried to work.  All variations of the same myth.  I have blogged extensively about this topic and if you want further clarification about this send me an email or call the office.

MYTH 8: ANYONE CAN ACT AS A REPRESENTATIVE IN A DISABILITY APPEAL

I have seen some individuals who have been successful in an appeal acting alone - and there are those who definitely have the capacity to do so.  However, with this new CPP Social Security Tribunal and only one opportunity to have the case heard "de nova" (with fresh eyes) and reviewing all the information at the General Division- I think it is very important to make sure you have an experienced representative to support you.  Understanding the CPP legislation can take many years and you gain experience from working in the trenches with the people who have been denied. Also understanding medical terminology and medical reports is critical in my opinion.  If a representative does not have any understanding of what medical reports say and mean -  how is that going to be helpful?  Think of it this way.  I might go to a fresh-out-of-school mechanic for an oil change but I would want to know what the experience level is if I was going for an engine rebuild!  With the April 1, 2013 changes these appeals are now really significant and I think that is important to keep in mind.  If you are experienced representative then you should be quite confident in presenting and identifying who you are and what you have done that will incite a person's confidence in your ability.

Okay these are all I can think off right now, but I am sure more will come to me.

Please also be advised that all of the information on this website it copyrighted and is only available for private use.  It is not to be reprinted, reproduced, or used in a commercial manner without the consent of Allison Schmidt, DCAC Inc.

 

 

CPP Social Security Information Line

I need to submit additional information on existing appeals which have now been transferred to the CPP Social Security Tribunal.

I do not know where to send this information.  So I phoned the "information" line.

I explained to the agent who answered my call - that I have a large number of existing appeals that have now been transferred to the CPP Social Security Tribunal and asked what I need to do.

I was advised that by April 30th, 2013 all clients with existing appeals will be sent letters to advise them that their file had been transferred - okay I said - will the appeal number stay the same - will I be advised of a new appeal number?  The agent asked me if I have any other questions before I was put on hold.

I said when will the appeals start being heard?

Who do I call if I want to speak to someone about a file?

I was put on hold while the answers to my questions were confirmed.

I was then told that I will have to be "called back". Okay I say.  And then I am told that I will be "called back" within three business days.

Boy oh boy. 

So then I said - well in the past I have been able to call an appeals body and given an appeal number and then transferred to the person - got their voice mail if they were not in the office - and then they would call me back. And I asked - has this changed?

And I was told yes - all calls will be put through the "SST Information Line" - sounds like just a big a oxymoron as  the "Service Canada" line.

Okay well I still do not know where to send the additional information - I guess I will have to wait until I get a call back.

Something that has also been bothering me today.  The Feds said that they would be saving 25 million dollars a year by creating this CPP Social Security Tribunal - yet I heard on the radio today that the Feds are paying 10 million to rent pandas and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the agency the administers CPP Disability and the appeal hearings and who funded the previous appeals system, spending on advertising increased according to information on CBC by an astounding 72 percent since 2008.  As well, Macleans magazine (March, 2013) state that 21 million dollars was spent on the Economic Action Plan advertising campaign.  It seems that the priorities are really skewed here.  Just saying.