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.