DCAC Blog

An Overview of the CPP Social Security Tribunal

I have been getting calls asking me "what is the CPP Social Security Tribunal?" So the goal of this blog is to give you an overview.

April 1, 2013 a date that marked significant changes to the Canada Pension Plan appeals process.  As you know, the Review Tribunal and the Pension Appeals Board were replaced by the Social Security Tribunal. This change to how CPP Disability appeals will be administered is substantial as the Social Security Tribunal's rules are far more complex than those that governed the prior appeal bodies.  I am unable to comment on the how the Social Security Tribunal will actually work - as it is far to early in the process.

In the past, an appellant had an automatic right to appeal.  Under this new system this right is no longer in place because the Social Security Tribunal has the power to summarily dismiss and appeal without a hearing if the SST member determines that they is no reasonable chance for success.  The Social Security Tribunal can also decide based on a review of written materials - whether the appeal has merit - and there is no obligation for them to hold an oral hearing.

There are so many additional requirements that will now be placed on an appellant in order to be successful in this new appeals process.  For example, the appellant will now have to provide written arguments outlining why their case should be allowed.  I think it will be very challenging for most individuals to articulate the merits of their appeal especially when most people do not know the lay of the land.

I have written extensively about the Notice of Readiness form.  A challenge for appellants is that they will have to decide whether they have sent in all of the additional documents and submissions in support of their appeal.  It is going to place an additional burden on the client as without submitting all of the information and signing the Notice of Readiness - they will not be scheduled for a hearing.

The decision will no longer be made by a three member panel, but by a single tribunal member.

If the Social Security Tribunal intends to summarily dismiss an appeal, the appellant will be advised and then they have a chance to response to the Social Security Tribunal's reasons to dismiss the appeal.  This will place a significant burden on an appellant who does not understand how to prepare their argument for the reasons why the case should succeed - as well - most people do not understand how the Canada Pension Plan disability plan is adjudicated and would not likely be in a position to make the appropriate submissions to argue their case.

After the Notice of Readiness is submitted, the Social Security Tribunal decides how the case will proceed.  There may be an oral hearing.  This may be done over the phone, in person, or by video conference.

The Social Security Tribunal will not provide a translator if there is an oral hearing.  The Social Security Tribunal will not provide reimbursement for costs associated with attending a Social Security Tribunal. If there are costs, appellants must make a special application if they wish to be reimbursed. Also the Social Security Tribunal does not have to provide an oral hearing - and it might write to appellants to ask them to provide written answers to their questions.  Then the Social Security Tribunal may make a decision on the record.

As you can see from this brief overview of the Social Security Tribunal - it is going to be more important for any one who is in this process to get professional advice and assistance.  If you have any questions please contact the office.  If you are applying for a CPP disability get someone to help you with the application.  If you are appealing for a Reconsideration of the denial of your CPP disability  - get some help from a professional.


 

Another article

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/conservatives-load-up-social-security-tribunal-with-allies/article12160769/

This is a link to a Globe and Mail story on the Social Security Tribunal.

 

CPP Social Security Tribunal - Notice of Readiness

I have been receiving phone calls and emails from people who have received correspondence from the Social Security Tribunal enclosing a Notice of Readiness document.  I am suggesting that you DO NOT sign this document until you have had your file reviewed by a professional.

Highlights of the Notice of Readiness include:

1.  HRSDC (CPP Disability) and the Appellant (YOU) have a maximum of 365 days to sign a Notice of Readiness and send it to the Social Security Tribunal.

2.  The Notice of Readiness advises the Social Security Tribunal that you are ready to proceed with the appeal.

3.  If you have additional information to submit to the Social Security Tribunal it is important you send this before or at the time you submit the Notice of Readiness.

4.  HRSDC (CPP disability) is also required to sign the Notice of Readiness.  As soon as the Social Security Tribunal gets this document they will forward you a copy.  If you have not sent in your Notice of Readiness you will be asked if you are ready to proceed.  At this point, you will have the opportunity to file additional documents and submissions with your Notice of Readiness.

5.  If you have filed your Notice of Readiness first, if CPP decides to file additional documents or submissions, you will be allowed the opportunity to respond and file additional documents with a new Notice of Readiness. 

6.  When both parties have confirmed they are ready - THEN THE TRIBUNAL WILL PROCEED WITH YOUR APPEAL


If you had an appeal pending at the Review Tribunal, your appeal will be deemed to be received by the Social Security Tribunal on April 1, 2013.  Which means you have until March 31,2014 to submit your Notice of Readiness.

ONCE THE SOCIAL SECURITY TRIBUNAL HAS RECEIVED THE FINAL NOTICE OF READINESS FROM BOTH PARTIES, IT WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS OR WRITTEN SUBMISSION.

 

Any one who has received this document I caution you not to sign and submit the Notice of Readiness until you have had your file reviewed by a professional or feel 100 percent confident that you are ready to proceed.

There are going to be a lot of people who are very anxious to sign this document because it is the only way that you will be able to get an appeal scheduled.  I understand this. You have been waiting a long time for an opportunity to be heard.  But you must understand the implications.

Please contact my office if you have questions or would like to discuss this document with me.

Just Saying

I am simply bringing these news articles to the attention of the people out there who are dealing with this process.

Make your own decisions and interpretations about the information I have posted to the blog.

 

Interesting SST appointments,.

  1. Dwayne Provo: failed Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Candidate in 2006 and 2009
  2. Pierre Lafontaine:  failed Conservative candidate in Jeanne-Le Ber in 2011
  3. Jean-Philippe Payment: failed Conservative Candidate in Terrebonne-Blainville in 2011
  4. Claude Durand: failed Conservative candidate in Trois-Rivieres in 2008
  5. Alcide Boudreault: failed Conservative candidate in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord in 2004 and 2006
  6. Mark Borer: member of the Don Valley West Conservative Party Riding Association
  7. Oudit Rai: member of the Durham Conservative Riding Association
  8. Dominique M Bellemare: failed Conservative candidate in Beauharnois-Salaberry in 1997, 2008 and 2004
  9. Joseph Wamback, Federal Progressive Conservative candidate in York North in 2000

An Interesting Story.......

NDP asks parliamentary committee to look into appointees’ Tory ties

The Canadian Press and Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press May 22, 2013 05:28:07 PM

OTTAWA – The federal New Democrats are asking a parliamentary committee to look into political appointments to the new Social Security Tribunal.

New Democrat MP Chris Charlton put forward a motion Wednesday asking the human-resources committee to examine the qualifications of several appointees with Conservative ties.

The request comes a day after a Canadian Press investigation found as many as one of every five chairpersons on the Employment Insurance Boards of Referees ran afoul of federal guidelines by giving money to political parties, riding associations and election candidates while they served on the tribunal.

Elections Canada records show all but one of the dozens of donations went to Conservatives, with the lone non-Tory donation going to a Liberal riding association in the Toronto area.

Federal guidelines stipulate that appointees to administrative tribunals, such as the EI referees boards, which hear complaints about EI decisions on issues such as denied benefits and fraud, are not supposed to engage in any political activities.

The committee must make a decision on the motion and report back to the House of Commons by next Tuesday.

For a second day in a row, the Conservatives were grilled in question period about the donations.

“Under the Conservatives, insiders are allowed to play by different rules than the rest of us. The Conservative appointees to EI boards clearly violated government guidelines when they donated money to the Conservative Party,” Charlton said.

“Now, we learn that the Conservatives are repeating their mistakes. They have recently appointed 10 more failed Conservative candidates and party operatives to the new Social Security Tribunal.”

Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, the government House leader, said appointments to the new Social Security Tribunal, which replaces the EI referees boards, will be made on “merit.”

“The members of the Social Security Tribunal are, of course, appointed through a rigorous process, a rigorous selection process that ensures that they have to meet specific experience and competence.”

The EI referees boards are among the dozens of federal organizations whose ranks are filled in whole or in part by people appointed by the Governor General, on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

The boards sit part-time in groups of three, consisting of a government-appointed chair and representatives of workers and employers.

In last year’s omnibus budget legislation, the governing Conservatives announced a new Social Security Tribunal would replace the EI referees boards. Canada Pension Plan and old age security claimants will also be able to appeal to the tribunal.

However, the EI referees boards will continue to hear appeals filed before April 1. The boards will decide on those cases until Oct. 31, at which point their unheard appeals will be transferred to the new tribunal.

The NDP has identified what it says are appointees to the Social Security Tribunal with Conservative ties, including failed federal and provincial Conservative candidates, members of Tory riding associations and a former provincial Tory cabinet minister.

What a duffer.

Coming from British descent, quite often my grandmother referred to foolish older men as duffers.  For example, she would say, your grandfather is such a duffer when he forgot the garden hose on to long.

I cannot help but see the irony in this term at the moment - seems like the whole government is full of duffers!  I am not going to provide political commentary as it is not really my lane, but I will always provide my opinion on what I feel is happening within the confines of the CPP Disability program.

The bureaucracy who decided to implement this new Social Security Tribunal (SST) were a huge bunch of duffers!.

I did get some correspondence from the SST yesterday.  What I found interesting about this letterhead was that there was a Government of Canada heading on it. What I mean by that, is that back when we had the Review Tribunal and the Pension Appeals Board, their letterhead had there own logo's or coat of arms, and there was no mention of the Government of Canada.

I think what is bothering me about this, is my concern about impartiality.  If the Government of Canada (Service Canada) is denying your application and appeals for disability twice then how is the Government of Canada (Social Security Tribunal) going to be seen as impartial?

Denied CPP Disability benefits? 10 Common Mistakes People Make.

The following are some common mistakes people make when considering a disability application or appeal.

1.  CPP disability applicants give up.  Many people are denied benefit on the first application.  Unless you are denied on a technicality (no contributions for example), you should not give up.  You should get the denial reviewed by a professional. Keep going it can be a big mistake to give up.

2.  Applicants miss appeal deadlines.  You have 90 days from the date you received the decision to appeal a denied CPP disability benefit.  A big mistake is to miss appeal deadlines.  Even if you send off a brief letter advising that you intend to appeal right after you get the letter of denial at least you meet your deadlines.  The Minister does have discretion to allow for a late appeal but there need to be very good reasons.

3.  If you are denied on your initial application and you send for an appeal - a big mistake is not to address the errors or ommissions included in the original denial. As you know, it is your onus or responsibility to provide the information required in order to support your application or appeal.  If you are denied because CPP says there is no objective medical evidence for example, and you know you have had xrays in the past, make sure you fix this error and collect and submit the medical infomation.  This is one example of how errors need to be fixed. 

4.  If you want to waste your time and appeal arguing that the original appeal decision is wrong, and threaten lawyers, or whomever in your appeal letter, do not bother.  It is far more important to move on.  Get new information to support your appeal.  Again do not waste your time and energy calling out the CPP disability adjudicator on their skills and experience.  It does not bode you well.  These kind of things follow you in the file - so just bite your tongue.

5.  A big mistake Applicants make is not staying in contact with Canada Pension Plan Disability.  I cannot tell you how many times a person has moved and not notified the CPP disability.  Then they wonder why they do not get their letters and then they miss appeal periods.  You need to keep in contact with CPP disability and let them know if you have any upcoming medical tests or appointments, or if you are waiting for a medical report from your doctor.  Having a representative from DCAC inc. will help you ease this burden but it is critical to keep the CPP updated.

6.  You must keep a copy of all the records your have submitted to CPP disability including the application, letters of appeal, letters from your doctors.  Applications get lost people I have seen it happen over and over again.  Keep an excellent paper trial. Also keep notes of any phonecalls you receive from the CPP disabilty.

7.  A common mistake is not understanding the CPP disability rules.  Many times when the CPP disabilty call, they tend to ask questions which might provide them with the certain answers they need in order to help them deny a claim.  A big mistake is not undertanding the playing field. If you understand the adjudication framework then you are less likely to shoot yourself in the foot with the "wrong answer".  This is a good reason to have a case-manager onside, we are able to avoid some of these problems by helping you level the playing field.

8.  Explaining your functional limitations and how your disability prevents you from working is critical. A big mistake people make is not adequately explaining their functional limitations either by under reporting or over reporting.  This is where getting an experienced case-manager can help with completing of the documentation to ensure that this mistake is avoided.

9.  Waiting to long to get help is a mistake. DCAC case-managers can provide the help you need at any stage including the initial application. With the implementation of the Social Security Tribunal I think it is moe important then ever to get help.  Applicants do not consider the benefits of hiring a case-manager and I think this is big mistake.  Read through this blog to learn about how DCAC can help and has helped many Canadians be successful. 

10.  Relying on the information provided by CPP disability or Service Canada.  Again not my intention to disrepect government workers.  I cannot tell you how many denial letters I have read that do not consider the totality of the information that has been submitted, or that did not consider the CPP adjudicaton framework, or agents who do not give people the correct information.  It is a big mistake not to ask for clarification, understand the playing field, and get a professional opinion on how to proceed in terms of an application or appeal.

 

How long does it take to get CPP disability Benefits?

I have had a lot of calls this week.  Many of the people who call me ask how long it will take to get a CPP disability benefit?

That is a good question.

From my chats with CPP staff I do know they are meeting their service standard time expectations in terms of adjudication.  So I can safely say that it will take approximately 4 months from the date of the application to get some kind of decision.  There are exceptions of course.  If CPP disabiity wishes to develop the file and get more medical evidence then obviously it will take longer and be dependent on your physician, but if the Feds are developing your file it is not a straight out denial so that is a good thing.

When you put in an application you should get an acknowledgement letter from CPP disability stating that the application has been recevied.  I have had a couple of people that have sent in applications only to be told that they have not been received - so make sure you take a photocopy of your original application and perhaps drop the application off to a Service Canada office.

If you are denied on initial application, you will receive the denial letter - and you must appeal this denial within 90 days of receipt of the letter.  It is very important to meet these time deadlines - the Feds do have the option to allow for a late appeal over the 90 days - but there must be exceptional reasons why you are not meeting your 90 day requirement.

After you have submitted a reconsideration, again you are looking at perhaps a four to five month wait to get a decision.  I would not delay in putting in the reconsideration letter - as I have said before in prior blogs - just keep it simple but advise the Feds that you wish to appeal - and ask for a reconsideration.

Then if you are denied at reconsideration you are looking at an appeal to the CPP Social Security Tribunal, And if you read my blog then you know the delays so far.

Okay the take away from this blog is this - make sure you have a complete application to submit to CPP disability - and make sure you understand the legislative tenants and how CPP disability adjudicate a claim. Because of the lengthy delays at the CPP Social Security Tribunal I would suggest that if you are going through the reconsideration process that you get some help with this - to avoid another denial.  Get in touch with the office here and let our experts at least review your file.  We do not charge a fee for a file review.

There is a a Terminally Ill Application - that is used for patients when the physician has determined the illness to be terminal with a prognosis of less than 12 months.  The application is shorter and the processing time for the Terminally Ill application is significantly shorter obviously.  If you do have a terminal illness and you fill out the regular CPP application I would suggest you write terminal illness on the top of the application so it can be flagged.

After the conference in Vancouver, many of the individuals who stopped by the booth to talk to me and express interest in what I do -also offered a list of topics that would like me to write about.  I will endeavour to do this over the next couple of weeks.  There are some exciting topics and I appreciate the ideas.  I have a collection of decisions of the numerous cases I have worked on over the last 15 years so I will also use some of these to illustrate concepts of the CPP adjudication process.  Thank you for contacting my office and thank you for the continued encouragement.   As always I am grateful for the support.  If you have read my resume you will know that I am Austrailan by birth, however I am also Canadian by choice.  I am proud to offer this service to my fellow Canadians. Take Care. Allison