Whose hearing is it?

The Social Security Tribunal regulations indicate that the format of the hearing is decided by the Tribunal Member.  As you know, there are several different formats in which a hearing can take place.  There are in-person appeals that include a video-conference hearing, a teleconference appeal format, hearings on the record as well as in a question answer format. 

According to the statistics that I have received, there seem to be a higher chance of being successful, if the client has an in-person hearing.  I believe I have noted these statistics on this blog in previous entries.  

Then Minister Kenney indicated that the back log of cases at the Social Security Tribunal would be elimiated by August 2015.  That is just around the corner.  I would like to say that the Tribunal and the Ministry has worked really hard to get this back log sorted. 

However, I am now becomming very concerned about the recent influx of Notice of Hearings that I have been receiving with only a teleconference hearing format offered to the client.

When I have written requesting that this type of hearing format be changed - on two occasions now the request to have this changed has been declined.  I believe that this particular Tribunal Member has denied both requests.  This is very surprising to me as usually most of the Members are very accommodating to the clients and from what I have observed they are certainly doing what they can to ensure the client has a good tribunal experience. 

I just wonder exactly whose hearing is it?  I think that most people would agree that it is the CLIENTS.

If the client wants to be seen and heard - then this request should be accomodated.  What difference does it make to the Tribunal Member if they are sitting on a phone - or sitting before a video conference screen?

I am just reading through a file - and it says right in the medical report "on examination he LOOKS in pain."

I just attended a hearing where the client SHOWED the Tribunal Member her hands that were extremely deformed from Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Another hearing, the client was unable to get up out of her chair.  Another a client sat on the floor with cushions because of the pain she was in.

How exactly Tribunal Member is a teleconference hearing helpful to a client? I can understand if it is the client's request to have a teleconference hearing but if the client requests the format should be changed this request should be accommodated?  It is the CLIENT's hearing and they have waited for several years to what they feel like is being "blown off" with a telephone call?  Perception is everything Tribunal, and it makes the client feel that the playing field is not even when THEIR simple requests are denied.

Two clients have been denied the opportunity to have an in-person appeal by videoconference.  It says in the letter that:

The Tribunal Member has detemined that a teleconference is the most appropriate form of hearing and states that:

  • The form of hearing provides for the accommodations required by the parties or participants, and
  • Credibitliy is not a prevailing issue.

But if the client is REQUESTING that the appeal be in-person - then who exactly is being ACCOMMODATED?

I just do not get it.  It's time to speak up and make sure that the clients are receiving the hearings that they are asking for.




Some Updates and Information

I cannot believe it is June 5th and the last entry I made was April 1st.  It has been a very busy two months.

My time has been consumed moving the office as well as managing all of the recent appeals and the push that the Minister has been undertaking to ensure that the backlog of cases at the Social Security Tribunal would be eliminated by August 2015.

I still think that is a very big stretch, but definitely most of the legacy cases that came over from the Review Tribunal have either been settled or are on their way to be scheduled by the Social Security Tribunal.  Based on my recent experience, I believe that they are starting to work on the appeals that were filed in 2013.

I had the great pleasure of hosting the Social Security Tribunal Chair and her colleague at my office here in Saskatchewan.  They both came a great distance to meet with the stakeholders here in Saskatchewan, and it was a very positive meeting.  Madame Chair shared the work that the Social Security Tribunal have undertaken in order to ensure a good appeal experience for the Appellant.  I believe that Madame Chair and her staff are working their very best to ensure that the Tribunal is efficiently run and despite the rocky start they have had, I am finally feeling a lot more positive that the Tribunal is getting on to stable footing.  It is very unfortunate that they were dumped on to begin with all the back logged appeals and that was very poorly planned from a Ministerial perspective - and hat's off to Madame Chair and her staff who have had to plow on through.  I do feel much more confident - it is a relief to say that.

I have also shared with Madame Chair my appreciation to the Social Security Tribunal members.  I have been able to attend a lot of hearings and would like to say that those I have recently attended have been excellently managed.  I would particularly like to compliment the most recent Chairs this last week.  The hearings were a very comfortable experience for the Appellants and greatly appreciated.