Statistics of Reconsiderations

Yesterday I received information concerning Reconsideration appeals to Canada Pension Plan.  If you are a follower of the blog, you will have read my complaints about the stupid denials I have been receiving from certain regional offices.  I decided to request information to determine whether the trend of denials could be supported by actual figures and that is the what I received yesterday.

In 2013 -2014 fiscal year, there were 13,841 requests for reconsideration received by Employment and Skills Development Canada.  This is your first level of appeal.

Out of the 13,841 appeals received 8,564 were denied - this is a 61% denial rate.

Now that is not really surprising to me because that is what the denial rate seems to hover around.

What is surprising to me, is that in the Ontario region, they received 7,586 requests for appeals and they maintained the denial of 5,216 of them.  That is a whopping 68 percent denial rate.

So back to the stupid denials.  Many of those DCAC has received in the last several months, the Medical Adjudicator - has not waited for the additional information they were advised was being submitted in order to add more support to the appeal.  They have simply denied them without waiting, without contacting the client, without contacting anyone to ensure that the client is ready to proceed with the appeal.  And I do not have to tell you where these denials are coming from - you guessed it - CHATHAM ONTARIO.

In documents I have reviewed, it is noted that part of the Federal Government's response to reducing the horrendus 11,000 appeal back log at the Social Security Tribunal is to ensure proper adjudication at the administrative level - that is the reconsideration level.  So may I suggest to the Ministry that they check this issue out.  The client I am looking at right now there is no indication in the file that the client was even phoned to ask if there was additional information and despite a letter that had been sent to contact my office, there was no phone call to me either.  The decision to deny this benefit was made on November 28th this was despite a phone call to Service Canada to advise them that additional infomration was forthcoming and was sent on December 4th.  Is there miscommunication between the Service Canada office and the CPP Disability office?

A.L. Medical Adjudicator in Chatham office, that is just not cool - do your job - develop the file - it is not at all fair to this client who will now be stuck in the SST back log.

I have been thinking

I am on a roll today - must just be because it is in the last day of the year - and I am reflecting - or perhaps because I have had some time off from the office -  and I have a lot to say!

There have been clients who have contacted me, who are appealing their Canada Pension Plan disability benefits and who are also clients of a disability insurance company. They may have disability coverage through work or they may have purchased it themselves - and if you read my blog you will know that Canada Pension Plan is typically first payer on any disability benefits.  When clients contact me who need the help and they are insurance clients - I ask them if the insurance company has been forthright in giving them the medical information in their files in order to help them support their appeal.  If they have not - I typically contact the insurance company to help facilitate this request.

Now most insurance companies are helpful - and why wouldn't they be? After all they have a very important stake in the outcome of an appeal -  because all the back pay goes back to the insurance company (most times) and then the benefit they pay, is reduced by the CPP disability benefit.  Some times insurance companies want to charge for photocopying - which I find a little cheeky.

Most insurance companies say that they have a "good working relationship" with HRSDC and CPP disability and that they have a good success rate in terms of getting benefits approved. I think the reason why is because insurance companies have the resources to fully explore a disability file - by that I mean they have the resources to send people to rehabs, to chronic pain clinics, for independent medicals, for functional capacity evaluations - all the typical medical and functional consults that establish whether disability exists.  However, insurance companies  still put the responsibility for applying for and appealing the denial on their client - I do not think most insurance companies are aware of the process and the challenges of making these applications - especially for brain-injured or clients who have problems with literacy as well as the added stress of dealing with this application with very little resources in terms of information about the process.  In my opinion, the declining levels of service from the Feds due to cut backs is also making this process more challenging.

Then I got to thinking, you know what about those people who cannot afford to pay for these assessments - again another uneven playing field and another example of how lopsided this process is for average Canadians.

At DCAC I try as many ways as I can to get the necessary assessments to support a disability claim through as many resources as I can - but when a doctor in BC wants to charge $900 for a medical report - there are challenges for both me and my clients.  When I am requesting medical evidence to support an appeal - I ask the doctor to advise me of the approximate cost of a report - and that helps me negotiate fees - however, doctors spend a lot of time doing paper work and need compensations - so it is a delicate line to walk.  I also discuss any fees for medical reports with my clients so they are aware of the costs. 

The CPP Adjudication guidelines state that an adjudicator must be "reasonably satisfied" that the disability exists - I explain that as any reasonable person who reads the information on file would agree that the appellant meets the legislative criteria.  The Onus or Responsibility to establish disability rests with the applicant on balance - which means more likely than not - the appeal should succeed - it is not "beyond a reasonable doubt" which is what I think CPP requires.

Anyway, it is yet to be seen what is going to happen with the Social Security Tribunal as now more than ever information on paper is going to be critical in the appeals process.  So being able to negotiate information from various sources and presenting them to the appeals body is going to be paramount. 

In the new year I have a lot of things to do in terms of preparing for this new system - I am committed to ensuring that this website and my office become a resource for Canada Pension Plan applications and appeals - if you chose to use DCAC services or not - at least here you will find the information you need to help with your case and if you are denied CPP Disability benefits.

I am always available to answer questions - so send me an email or call.

As always, hang in there - and do not give up.  Happy New Year.

Privacy Breach at HRSDC

My office has been inundated with calls from clients concerning a privacy breach at HRSDC.

The Toronto Star reports that the lost data belongs to disability applicants which explains why so many of my clients have been calling me.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) confirmed that the electronic storage device was lost by a staff member in mid-November (really it took them six weeks to advise people) and the information contained information on "individuals in the midst of attempting to secure Canada Pension Plan disability benefits" (reported by the Toronto Star December 30th, 2012).

Hmmm........

Not good HRSDC.

Why are people in the department not encrypting personal information and why would they be carrying around data about applicants on a memory stick? Not really a good explanation is given - and there is no mention about how the USB stick containing all this data was lost. Was it lost - stolen - misplaced - destroyed - what happened??

Lots of nice platitudes from the department though - they are doing their best - yada yada yada.

Not so comforting for my clients who are at their banks and contacting various resources to prevent identity theft - not to mention personal information regarding medical issues - many clients have just described it as being "unsettling" not knowing where their information is.

Clients have been asking me what they should do - take safe guards - check credit reports - advise the banks.

Is HRSDC going to compensate if this information is used negatively?

 

Have you been denied Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits?

If so, then the Disability Claims Advocacy Clinic is the place to come for help. 

I have noticed lately, that there are some new websites that are popping up on the internet, offering assistance with appeals.  These websites say that they have been representing people for many years and have a wealth of experience.  They also post blog entries that appear very closely related to the entries I have posted here.

Now I have been in this business for 15 years in March 2013 and I know many of the experienced people who work in this field, so I am very cautious about these claims of experience that are out there. I am also cautious of websites that give no information about who it is that operate or provide advocacy services - no details - no credentials, only a phone number.  So I am advocating buyer beware here.

I would highly recommend if you are looking for some help with your appeal, that you ask any service provider how many appeals that they have worked on - and ask for a way to verify this information.

I would also make sure you feel confident in who you choose to help you. With the new Social Security Tribunal coming in to place next year - it is more important than ever that your application to CPP disability as well as any appeals you make, are done by an experienced case manager who understands the legislative tenants.  Not some fly by nighter wanting to make a buck.

 

 

An update on what is a substantially gainful occupation.

I recently added a post to the blog which discussed two cases that I appealed to the Pension Appeals Board.  Both of which dealt with; what is a substantially gainful occupation?

There was two different scenarios - June who was on a Canada Pension Plan disability who had been cut off for working - and then Lila who was appealing because she was found capable of working doing seven hours a week job sharing with another lady who ironically is on Canada Pension Plan disabiliity.  For the details on these cases please review the prior blog post.

I am happy to report, that both of these cases were successful in their appeals.

I would like to thank "Sally" at the Pension Appeals Board as the decision for June was sent within two weeks of the hearing - which is something that I have not experience before - and the favourable decision was welcomed by June and her family.

When I attended these hearings, I took with me a copy of The Adjudication Framework For Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits: Severe Criterion for "Incapable Regularly of Pursuing any Substantially Gainful Occupation."

The point of me doing this is because I get so frustrated with the constant denial letters which quote "while you are unable to do your current job you still have the capacity to do some type of substantially gainful occupation." Or they will say - well you are working earning whatever amount (which is often well below what is considered substantially gainful) so you are not disabled according to the legislative criteria - it is just maddening.

So now these two decisions will hopefully give some reference for people who are appealing a denial decision. 

The Board state:  "I find it interesting the document submitted in Ms. Schmidt's submission entitled "The Adjudication Framework..."  On page 11 of the document it states:  The substantially gainful amount is the maximum monthly CPP retirement pension.  The annual amount is equal to twelve times the maximum monthly CPP retirement pension....  An individual who is working to the maximum capacity that his or her disability permits, and whose earnings are less than the substantially gainful amount, is not productive and is not performing.  This individual can be determined incapable of working at a substantially gainful level."

Lila was earnings for 2006 - 2011 never exceeded the substantially gainful earnings amount and for 2010 her earnins were about one third of the allowable amount - yet she was denied by the Feds because they said she was working.  Just another example of how despite guidelines being in place - they never appear to be followed.

 

What is a Substantially Gainful Occupation?

It has been a remarkable week. I have been working solid for a week on five different Pension Appeals Board hearings.

I would like to thank all of the people who put together these appeals - the registrars who make sure everything runs smoothly - and the judges who sit on the Board who are just experts in finding out the facts and applying the legislative tenants.

I will even shout out to the Minister's team!

Okay so this week, two cases dealt with what is a Substantially Gainful Occupation?

The first case, let's call her June. June had been granted CPP disability due to significant Bipolar Disorder. She had had a long history of mental health issues, including hospitalizations. When she is not displaying symptoms - June is lovely with moments of real clarity - but then there is the other side of the coin. June can fluctuate rapidly cycling up and down sometimes in the same hour. June was a big challenge for me. I did not know how to manage her as she is tangetal - and goes off on crazy tangents when you ask her a question. Now June when she was off her medications, decided that she wanted to be "normal" and what is more normal than being part of society and getting a job. So June applied for a janitorial job as a relief worker and soon enough she began to develop sciatica and 11 months later, she had to have spinal surgery. That did not stop her though - in her unmedicated state - June was in a manic stage - and she still tried to keep working despite all of her symptoms. Well the Feds found out that June was working, and based strictly on the fact that she had earnings, June's CPP benefits were ceased. So June was left with no income, by this time her mental health had decompensated to the point where she was again hospitalized, and once she went back on the her medications, she regained some clarity in to her situation. Let's remember that June had mental health and physical health issues. She contacted my office. She was challenging for me to manage - I did not know if I was going to get clarity June, or whether I was going to get not-so-clear June. But we persevered with the appeal, she had been denied at Review Tribunal (she went alone) and so now we had a Pension Appeals Board hearing. Note to the Feds - there was no way this woman could manage the documentation and appeals system alone. There was no one I think how would have taken on her case frankly - as she had earnings while on disability - and on first blush -well you would think the Feds were right to cease her benefits. But sometimes you have to dig a little deeper, connect with a person, and take the time to find out what really went on. June has a great family, a sister and daugther, both of them named Sally (!) who were very helpful in helping me understand June.

So that is a little bit of the context of the appeal. The Pension Appeals Board hearing was this week, and in terms of a "cease benefit" case - the Feds cannot vary the decision that they made that she was disabled according to the legislation - the only issue that would be before the Board - was whether or not the Minister had established that June had "regained her capacity to work" and it was their responsibility to establish that. When I first spoke with the Minister's representative, she said that we would have to present our facts first - well I knew this was wrong - in fact I knew that June did not have to speak at all - it was up to the department to prove that she could work - and all of the information on file clearly indicated that she had not. Really the only reason the Feds has was that June had earnings. Okay so the judges they agreed with me - and the Minister's doctor got up to speak - that was interesting to say the least - and I think she toed the "party line" despite all of the information to the contrary. I did not ask June to speak because she would not have been able to manage this - her daughter Sally spoke on her behalf in a very compelling way clearly explaining her mother's mental health condition and how it has impacted her life - Sally if you are reading this - you know how impressed I am with your resiliance - you are lovely.

So why I am writing this long-winded essay?

The issue was - what is a substantially gainful occupation? You know the definitition - you must be regularly incapable of any substantially gainful occupation - I did some digging around - and according to The Adjudication Framework for Canada Pension Plan (google it - it is online) Substantially Gainful Occupation is defined as 12 times the maximum retirement CPP benefit amount. So I presented this document to the Pension Appeals Board - and stated my position - that the Feds are not even following their own adjudication guidelines. Now I must back up a bit - June was working alone, she would go in to work at all hours of the night - she would work so no one would see her and how she was not managing - all in an effort for her to be "normal" - because she was unsupervised she was able to pull it off right - no one know how crazy this was for June to be working - no supervisor would know what was going on in reality - and there must be an air of reality when assessing a CPP case.

The funniest thing to me was - that the Minister's representative said to the Panel - that the CPP Adjudication Framework - was just a "guideline" and that this was not binding on the Board - the Judge said - are you asking us not to follow your own guidelines? When the decision comes in I will let you know the result.

Okay, the next case concerning what is a substantially gainful occupation was about a woman - let's call her Lila. Lila has been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Lila has been working with her MS since 2005 at a local school doing lunch room supervision and teacher's assistant for a Pre-K class. Lila earnings just over the allowable earnings provision and way under a substantially gainful occupation earnings - but she was denied because she was "working". Okay I was pissed off by this stage. Seriously. The Feds give you all these pretty words like substantailly gainful, and allowable earnings, but they do not follow their own guidelines - they argue you are not disabled because Inclima says you must test your capacity to work - so you are denied - and then they say - you are trying to work within your capacity - but you are not disabled. It just really frustrates me - cause Lila - she was job sharing with another woman who is disabled and on CPP disability - and can only work 7 hours a week - before her MS symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and muscle weakness kick in. Good for Lila - she loves to work cause it helps her mental health - to contribute to her family.

Any way, this whole point of this blog entry is to try to clarify what is a substantially gainful occupation? There is a dollar amount - and there are a lot of things that are taken in to consideration, like productivity and performance, and whether you are competitively employed, and if it is a philanthropic employer - a whole host of things.

But what I would most like to say - is that obviously the Adjudication Guidelines mean nothing -because the Feds - sure a heck do not follow them - they are only "guidelines". It sure would be a better system if the Feds actually followed their own guidelines.

 

My Committment to You

Since the announcement of the new appeals system was made by the Harper government, I have been feeling very discouraged. The rug that has been under my feet and the system that I am familiar with, trust, and know well is changing significantly.

Change is hard.

I have worried about what the implications will be to the people who are currently in the appeals system, as well as the people who find themselves applying for CPP disability. I have worried everyday about what to do - and how I can help.

There is still a lot of waiting to be done as there is still no indication of what the new system will look like.

What I do know for sure, is that I am an expert in my field, the CPP tenants are not going to change, only the format of the appeal.

So my committment to you is that I am going to diligently work to understand the new processes, that I am going to figure out a way to case - manage an appeal, and I am going to ensure that any information I find out about the transition to the new Social Security Tribunal will be shared on this website so we can all be prepared together. I believe that knowledge is power and the more knowledge I can share, the better prepared we will all be.

Let's face it - the Feds cannot deny every case that appears before them - and I am going to continue to work hard to ensure that DCAC remains the most successful CPP case-management service in Canada. That is my goal.

 

I HEART the Pension Appeals Board

This week I had a Pension Appeals Board hearing.

The Pension Appeals Board is the last level of appeal (typically speaking - there is appeal to the Federal Court of Canada if you are denied at Pension Appeals Board) but that is well out of my area of expertise.

The Pension Appeals Board is the appeal level you go to if you are denied at the Review Tribunal. Appeal rights are not automatic - and you have to be given permission or leave to appeal to attend at this level.

The Pension Appeals Board is made up of three usually retired judges - they are great, savy, and expert fact finders.

I heart the Pension Appeals Board.

My client this week was a lady let's call her Beth. Beth is complicated - she experiences significant pain - in both a physical and emotional way. Beth has been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia as her physical condition and many other mental health conditions. Beth has experienced chronic trauma her entire life - but I admire her - she is resilient, smart and tells it like it is.

Beth had a very unfortunate experience with the Review Tribunal - if I may speak frankly - the decision was, well let me just say it made me see red and only in my opinion re-abused Beth with their narrow minded and high browed condenscending writings as well as accusing Beth in no uncertain terms of fabricating her entire life experiences and trauma that she experienced. Yes panel members what happened to Beth does happen in the real world. I told Beth not to read the decision because I did not want her to be again abused by the system. Harsh words I know but I speak the truth.

Anyway, I convinced Beth that I would deal with this - I would submit the Leave to Appeal which I did and we were granted Leave which meant the decision of the Review Tribunal was set aside (good riddance in my opinion).

This is the second time that Beth's Pension Appeals Board hearing has been scheduled - the first time the CPP disability adjourned the matter so that they could get an Independent Medical Examination - I thought great - the Feds are developing the file - and Beth was sent to a Physical Medicine doctor who recognized she had significant pain but thought perhaps there were psychological issues as well contributing to her disability - and so the Feds then sent Beth for an Independent Medical Examination with a Psychiatrist. Good call I thought.

Two IMEs are very rare and not something that I have seen - so I thought for sure the Feds would settle - especially when the Psychistrist came back stating that Beth's residual capacity for work activity was very low and her prognosis is poor given the chronic nature of her condition.

But no the hearing was scheduled and the information in its totality appeared to be ignored.

Now Beth - she was adamant that she was not going to appear - she was disgusted by the way she was treated at the Review Tribunal, she had sent in every government form, she has consented to two Independent Medical Exams, she had openly discussed intimate and very difficult to hear details about her life - and she was not going to appear again and have her wounds relived (her words) - she wanted to quit and she was fearful that another negative experience would push her down too much. She kept asking me "what else do they (the feds) need?"

I did not know what to do - I contacted the lawyer representing CPP and told him that I did not think the hearing would proceed given Beth's feelings about the process - he told me that he would argue negative inference (which means that the Board should consider the appellant not appearing in a negative way) if Beth did not attend.

I called the registrar at the Pension Appeals Board - let's call her Jane - she was great and gave me some really helpful advice and encouragement and suggested that I try one more time to ask Beth to attend the hearing.

Well I picked Beth up and I got her to the hearing and I prayed to the heavens that I was doing the right thing by ensuring her that everything was going to be okay and that we would get through the hearing. I am so glad she agreed to attend.

I heart the Pension Appeals Board - the panel had obviously read through the entire file - they asked appropriate questions - they treated Beth with the utmost respect and kindness - I do not know how the decision will come down - but Beth was so happy because she felt she was heard and she felt VALIDATED.

The opposing side took their cue from the Board and they were also very respectful of Beth and even though I thought the lawyer asked a series of bonehead questions and was making very simplistic and grasping at straws arguments - he was good to Beth - the doctor (typically not my favourite) was dare I say it - fair and balanced. Although doc I do not agree that a little aquasize would solve the problem!

Anyway, why am I writing this? Well you know the big Harper Hammer is coming down on these appeals and I am really worried how people are going to cope in this new system - I am trying to keep the glass half full approach to this and believe that the new system may be a good thing. Right?

A "connected" person I know in the disability community who has the inside track on the Harper Hammer told me that the bureacracy is in chaos. I will leave it up to the readers out there to decide for themselves what they think - but that is what I was told and I hope that somehow all of this chaos will resolve itself to the benefit to Canadians at some of their most vulnerable times - when they are trying to apply for a CPP disability benefit because they contributed to the system over many years of work.

Have a good week friends.

 

 

My week in review

More complaints I am afraid......

Firstly I am finding that the wait times for processing CPP benefits is increasing - people are waiting for at least five months to hear a decision on their applications or reconsiderations.  I do not have to tell you about the state of most families' finances and how many rely on a double income in order to make the mortgage and whatever other obligations they have. I cannot for the life of me understand how putting individuals through the financial stress of repeated denial of disability benefits can help a person's medical condition.  Add stress, depression, frustration, marital conflict, guilt, and a whole host of other issues to the mix and you are certainly not helping a client improve.  It is so frustrating for me to see and hear first hand the toll the length of processing times and denial rates are having on good decent Canadian people who face life changing disabilities. It sickens me. And the number of calls and emails I get each week, each person expressing their despair and frustration with the system is a challenge.  My advice is to carry on - keep positive - and keep up the fight against the unfair denials - because at the end of the day - I believe that most people have legitimate claims - why else would they waste their time and cause anguish to themselves and their families for the fun of dealing with a bureacratic system. It is not logical.

I have also had my fill of bad hearings. I am not sure if Panel members feel rushed or overwhelmed with the amount of information they have to review, or whether they are burnt out with the number of appeals they are sitting on because of increased hearing numbers or because the amount of appeals are increasing - but lately I have not felt that all of the Panel members are prepared - and I also wonder if they are reading the files.  Again a caveat - many many members have done their homework and are ready - but some alas I feel are not.  I have had any excellent relationship with the Review Tribunal office but I feel this whole issue of documentation collation and page numbering (see prior rant) is not doing the panel members, the representatives, and most importantly the appellant any service at all. And this could be the problem and vibe that I am sensing in recent weeks. You would think that simple page numbering would not make a big difference but it does.

Maybe I am just frustrated with the whole system period.

I did have some good news this week. A client lets call him Roger won his appeal. He has had quite a time of it - firstly a bone head Panel member - made in my opinion a really stupid decision on the last hearing - it was postponed. He waited another 10 months in order to get the second hearing - with no resolution to the issues raised in the first hearing - but any way - he was waiting for a treatment - a treatment that has a waiting list of over two years - so what he is supposed to wait that length of time to see if this possible treatment may help his medical condition - I think not.  I must add that in the documents it stated that this proposed treatment was something that the doctors "hoped" might help - it was not like surgery or something that had a good chance of success - so in the meantime - Roger lost his house that he had paid for  over 25 years of hard work - his wife left him - and he is now housebound and mired in chronic pain and anxiety - an illustration of what happens to real good person - a person who was described by his previous employer as a "working-machine" - because of this system he found himself in - through no fault of their own. Anyway I just spoke with Roger and I am so hopeful that the feds do not appeal this decision - he has been through enough. Thank goodness the new panel saw Roger's reality and did not postpone the hearing again.  Even though I disagreed strongly with the first Review Tribunal panel if they decide they want to adjourn well good luck for an appellant. Again I find complaints are challenging for me - I know the Review Tribunal are down members and I worry about coming across a member I complained about in another matter.

Anyway that is enough for a Friday afternoon. Take care and hang in there. Allison

 

The Link between CPP and LTD Disability Insurance

I often receive phone calls from individuals who are applying for CPP disability at the request of their private insurance companies. The insurance companies usually require that their clients make application to CPP disability, as CPP is first payer on most disability insurance policies (also many WCB programs, Provincial disability programs, Auto insurance programs etc.) When these individuals are denied CPP, the insurance companies require that they appeal and often I get called because there is a level of fear that if the client is denied again, the insurance company will also deny them as well. Most insurance companies do not provide the resources their clients need to handle these appeals, and if I may be frank, many of the disability insurance adjudicators do not understand themselves the procedure a client has to go through when appealing the denial of CPP disability benefits.

So it is a no brainer that I get panicked calls from private insurance clients who are now facing CPP appeals and the added stress and worry that because CPP has denied them, that their insurance company may shortly do the same.

I am not trying to malign insurance companies here, as getting their clients CPP disability saves them a large amount of money over the life span of a claim, so they are entirely motivated to get their clients on CPP disability. I recently made a presentation to the disability adjudicators at a large insurance company and at the end of the presentation it was clear to me that the adjudicators now had a better appreciation and understanding of the complexity of the CPP disability program. Although the adjudicators had received "outreach services" from the Feds - I believe sorry to say - their presentations may not accurately portray what is really going on in the trenches!

As I have said previously, CPP disability benefit is viewed as the "first payer" by most private insurance plans. This means that most insurance plans take CPP disability benefits into account when calculating a claimant's entitlement to disability benefits. Most private long-term disability plans require a claimant to apply for CPP disability and to appeal a denial. Many agreements also indicate that noncompliance with these terms can result in withholding or reduction of long term disability benefits by the estimated amount of the CPP disability benefit. This is standard practice and part of standard form agreements of most private insurance policies.

If you have been denied a CPP disability benefit and you have been asked to appeal by the insurance company, then make sure you follow their recommendations. I believe most insurance companies are aware that CPP disability has a fairly measurable denial rate and so they may expect that you will denied on application. Do not be fearful of the denial from CPP disability. Next make sure you send in for your reconsideration within the 90 day appeal period and ask your adjudicator if the insurance company has some resources available that can help with your appeal. Also ask the insurance company if they can provide you with the medical information that is on your file - that way you do not have to pay for photocopying charges from your doctor's office. Most insurance companies have collected medical evidence on you in order to support your LTD claim - so as collecting CPP disability is in their best interests - I really think they should help you out by providing you with this information. If there is an issue with this I would ask for a supervisor and explain your motivation for wanting to collect this information.

Also, if there are insurance company staff who read this blog - I would like to ask them to consider having someone who works in the trenches, explain to them and their disability adjudicators the reality of managing a CPP disability appeal so they can help their clients secure the benefits that will offset their bottom lines.

Often I am asked by someone who has to appeal the denial of a CPP disability benefit who is receiving LTD private insurance what is the point to receiving CPP disability?

Although the income received from a CPP disability benefit is taxable and reduces your non-taxable long-term disability benefit, there are advantages to receiving a CPP disability pension:

· it places a freeze on your financial earnings as of the date of disability. This prevents CPP from establishing a record of zero of nil earnings to average into your future retirement or disability income calculation for the period you are disabled from working and not contributing to the CPP fund. Without this earning freeze your future entitlement to CPP benefits, including retirement benefits could be adversely affected.

· there is a federal tax credit available when a individual completes and submits the Disability Tax Credit Certificate (Form T2201) with their income tax.

· if you are in receipt of CPP disability benefits at the time of your death, CPP survivor benefits will be paid at the full level as though you have been working until the date of your death.

· CPP benefits provide a cost of living allowance every year. Any COLA increases will not be deducted from long-term disability benefits.

· if you have children they may be eligible for a children's benefit as long as you are receiving a CPP disability benefit. CPP pays benefits for children if they are:

a. under 18 years of age. These benefits are paid to the individual who has the care and custody of the children; or,

b. between the ages of 18 and 25 years old and attending school on a full-time basis. This benefit is paid directly to the child