Social Security Tribunal Hearing

Well it was a Merry Christmas for a client as we got word that the first Social Security Tribunal hearing I wrote about in November, was indeed successful.  It was nice to get a decision on a case given that it has now been over six months since DCAC has worked on an appeal.  It was very exciting to call the client and tell her the good news - very timely indeed given that we are in the Festive Season and I feel almost jolly!

The decision was well written and gave solid reasons as to why the client should have succeeded in this matter.  I know that the Social Security Tribunal are busy scheduling away, so I am happy that finally the cases are moving along. 

If you are waiting for a Social Security Tribunal hearing give DCAC a call for all of the reaons I have discussed in my previous blog entries.  I would not recommend proceeding alone especially given a decision of this magnitude - potential disability income to age 65.

So again, to all my friends, clients, follow colleagues, the friendly Feds, and people who read this blog, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


End of Year Thoughts

Well another year in coming to a close - my fifteenth year - boy time has flown by.

This year was very interesting to say the least with major changes to the CPP disability appeal process.  The new year also will be busy with all the legacy appeals being heard at the Social Security Tribunal - and do not forget that all these cases have to have supporting information and submissions completed and sent to the Social Security Tribunal by March 31, 2014.  I expect I will have a busy first quarter getting all of these appeals ready to go - and then what happens next -well that is anyone's guess.  The big unknown is what type of hearing will the Appellant have - what will the Tribunal member chose?  I believe as part of due process a person should be entitled to the right to be heard - especially in matter's so significant as these (income replacement due to disability) but it is not in our hands - although please in your submissions make a good case why you should be heard in person - one point being the assessment of subjective evidence - which you all know is part of the evidence that can be considered in terms of the appeal.

I was surfing the web on the weekend as I am interested in these changes that are being discussed on Canada Pension Plan by the Feds and the Provinces.  I came across a Globe and Mail article dated October 6, 2013 and titled "Can I keep working when I'm collected CPP Disability benefits?  I found this very interested because I thought why would someone ask that question to a newspaper?

So this person received CPP disability as they have a mental illness.  They work 30 hours a week at a low-skill job and their boss is someone from their church - which is why they believe they were hired.  The person states they have trouble doing the job but they show up.  It is a contract maternity leave position and CPP disability are calling saying that they are going to cut this person off.  This person is arguing that CPP is not appreciating that the job is temporary and that every day is a struggle and that they will be unable to locate to another job.

Two experts gave their answers to this question - one of them was Sheila Copps (Former Deputy Prime Minister).  The answers included the following points:

1. Ask CPP if they cut you off whether you can reapply for the benefits.

2. Do I need a medical opinion to continue on this benefit and would this support my application to continue.

3. If you are employed for a certain period your benefit will be terminated.

4. Some disability plans allow for modified employment - this does not apply to the federal long-term disability plan offered by CPP, as this is designed for those who will never work again.

5. It is important to be clear to the CPP caseworkder about your current working status and if you have not informed them it will likely come back to bite you.


My response to these points are:

1. There is a Fast Track Application if you have tried to return to work and can no longer work due to the same disabiing condition.  I would make sure I list all of the areas that you have had trouble performing on the job - for example it is noted in your letter that you say you "struggled every day" - what do you mean when you say that - struggled how? Increased symptoms - difficulty getting to work etc.  Also what were your earnings?  What accomodations did you employer make for you? A person in this situation needs to be clear with a CPP disability adjudicator what the struggles were - was this realistic employment - were you productive - did you perform in a competitive way - was this a sheltered work environment - what did you do in this job?

2. Yes you will need a medical submission to continue on with the benefit - and I would ensure the doctor indicates the positive and negative impact of your working activity - like did it increase positive symptoms -like self-esteem or better mood or did it impact in a negative way - like more anxiety or the need for increased meds etc.

3. Yes if you are employed on a regular basis and earning an substantially gainful income then your benefits will be terminated.

4. I think Ms. Copps needs to read a little further on the CPP disability program  as he statement is inaccurate - it is not an all or nothing program - people who are on CPP disability do work as long as it is within the CPP disability allowable earnings guidelines. They are online and I have written about them in this blog.

5.  I do think it is important to be forthright with CPP disability otherwise you will get caught and you will have to repay any CPP disability that you have been paid while you were working - it is way better to be upfront with CPP disability but get your ducks in order - make sure you understand the process and what you need to advise CPP disability before you make the call - knowledge is power so make sure you know what you are on about when you do call and advise.


Well I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  I am looking forward to a little down time over the holiday season to prepare myself and my staff for the new year.




Attending a Social Security Tribunal Hearing

I am sorry it has been a while since I have had an opportunity to blog.

Last week I attended my first Social Security Tribunal hearing.

I wanted to give an overview of the process and my thoughts on the hearing.

The hearing was an in-person hearing that was held in a boardroom at a Service Canada center.  I thought the location did not really befit the process - I guess in my mind I am used to attending appeal hearings in the past where you at least had some water on the table and kleenex etc which which do make the client feel a little more comfortable - so this location left me a little dismayed - but that is the only real issue I had.

The Chair was well experienced and the client felt comfortable - the process was very similar to what I was used to in the past.  The client was able to be heard and given a very good opportunity to express and explain how her disability impacts her capacity to work.  The Chair was very accommodating indeed and I have no complaints on the process.

There was an issue with additional medical.  The client had been to see a specialist and the report had come in after the Notice of Readiness was signed. The Chair was unable to accept this document based on the rules, but I was able to read in the information and the client was able to discuss her experience at the appointment - I do not know what weight that will carry but at least the information was shared.

The appeal lasted about an hour or so which was typical of the old Review Tribunal hearings.

Overall, I thought the appeal was very well done and it did indeed ease my mind in terms of this new process.  I know that the staff at the Social Security Tribunal are doing their best to get these hearings heard.  There are obviously kinks to iron out in any new system, but I do believe they are working hard to get things up and running smoothly.

I do not know how these volumes are going to be accommodated and I was assured by an observer at the appeal meeting that they are ready to get going on these appeals once the Notice of Readiness process has been done, which on legacy cases is March 31, 2014, 

Please make sure that you prepare your reasons as to why you meet the CPP disability rules and have them ready to present at the Social Security Tribunal because you will be asked to explain why you cannot work- go through these blog entries to get some ideas on how to present this information.  This is your best kick at the can to convince the Panel Member why you meet the rules so it is very important that you have all of your appeal ready to go and that you are well prepared.

If you need some help get in touch with my office.