It's taken some time but we have managed to implement the new website that is mobile friendly. Thanks to all the team for their contributions.
Here is a copy of the Auditor Generals report on CPP disability.
It has been such a busy week and I have many things to blog about - but my time is short. Thank you for all of your support and kind words and messages that I have received over this week. I will write more soon to give you an overview of what has been happening.
Take care - Allison
Tonight CTV 2 - Alberta Primetime Edmonton -6.00pm, 11.00pm Friday February 20th, 2015 - are running a feature on Peter McClure's story on being denied CPP disability benefits.
I have been asked to participate in a forum discussion to air after the feature on Mr. McClure.
I will post the link to the story when I can - please share - and please watch.
Let's all stand together and support Mr. McClure.
I am posting this story on CPP disability and the denial of benefits. I would like to extend my best wishes to Mr. McClure and his family.
This story illustrates the importance of understanding what happens when individuals apply for early retirement benefits available at at 60.
Mr. McClue was diagnosed with rectal cancer in the Fall of 2012. He applied for CPP early retirement benefits in December 2012 and continue to work during this time period until another tumour was found on his lung in early 2013 - he stopped working on April 23, 2013.
When you take an early retirement benefit from CPP you MQP (the magic date - the date that you need to be found disabled by) becomes the month before you start taking early retirement benefits - this means in this case the MQP is November 2012. Unfortunately, Mr. McClure was working at the time of the MQP and therefore he has been denied.
Another issue that comes up when individuals take early retirement benefits is that once you have collected these for 15 months - you are unable to switch them over to CPP disabiltiy benefits. So many people take their early retirement to supplement their income and then in their early 60s become disabled and are then unable to switch these benefits over - I have numerous phone calls like these on a weekly basis.
I agree with Michael Prince - Mr. MrClure's case is not unusual. Along with the excessive denial rates there is a complete lack of communication from the Feds in terms of how to make application for Canada Pension Plan. I have written extensively on the importance of the MQP as well as what happens when someone takes an early retirement benefit. Mr. McClure correctly states that these MQP rules are never made clear to most people when they apply for CPP disability.
My advice to Mr. McClure is to request an expidited hearing at the Social Security Tribunal - in this situation - I feel the SST will do what they can to help this gentleman - but I do think he will continue to be denied because he is caught up on this legislative technicality with the MQP being November 2012. Of course this would depend on his work activity after that date - was it regularly - did he have the capacity to work - etc.
This is a really tough case to be sure - as obviously there is no doubt that Mr. McClure has a disability that is both severe and prolonged but as you know there is the third piece in the equation and that is the contributions and unfortunately the contributory rules. The CPP letter suggesting that Mr. McClure does not have a disability that is both "severe and prolonged" is inaccurate that is for sure and I think the Feds could do a better job of helping people understand the reasons why they are being denied. I think that there is little understanding about the rules when you take early retirment benefits.
I agree with Mr. McClure that the Feds need to be doing a better job - this system is so broken.
I wish you all the best Mr. McClure.
I am very pleased with the service provided by Allison. She is truly dedicated to the cause of the disabled and disadvantaged. Prior to my disablement by multiple sclerosis, I worked in a social services office and was well versed with different processes of getting disability benefits. I proceeded with my own claim for CPP with just the help of my doctor and a social worker. The process was very daunting, and Service Canada was of little or no help. My original submission was woefully inadequate and I was denied. I applied for reconsideration and did more research. I found that like all things government, one needs to draw a detailed roadmap for the government employee doing the work in order to have any chance of success. Even with my experience, I was not up to the challenge; I needed someone who was. My research led me to Allison, and she took on my claim. Within three months of her starting work on my claim, I got a favourable decision and am now receiving from CPP the benefit of my contributions that I paid during my working years. The roadmap that she drew was painstaking accurate and detailed.
For those who are considering whether to hire an advocate, I can only say this: Don’t go it alone. When you go it alone, you have to do all the heavy lifting; you cannot expect nor does the law state that Service Canada has to do any of it for you. You cannot just drop a stack of medical records in the adjudicator’s lap and expect them to spend all the time needed to make sense of it in a manner that is in your favour. This is what they are supposed to do, but it will not happen unless you also have that expertly drawn roadmap. Allison can provide that roadmap for you. Please remember that CPP-D is not welfare. If you have contributed to CPP, can meet the contribution and time tests and can no longer work due to disability, you have an entitlement to a benefit. Don’t give up, call Allison and let her help you. I cannot thank Allison enough for her time and effort.
Thanks again Allison for all your time and effort.
I have simple advice for people with disabilities, if you looking for help and you lucky enough to find DCAC, than you are on the right truck. Trust Allison and simply FORGET THE REST because she is definitely THE BEST. Mr. Z.Z.
Thank you to both these clients. I appreciate your words of recommendation.
This story broke my heart. It is a story I hear all too often. Denied due to lack of contributions because life takes turns and the CPP disability rules appear not to take that life happens in to account.
This man has a MQP of December 2011 based on contributions he had made for many years to CPP. But, lecause of life's circumstances and the compassion of this man to care for his family, his limited income during a two year period resulted in non-contributory years and as a result he not qualify for CPP disability after the December 2011 time frame.
This situation keeps on happening - it is time for the government to make some sort of accommodation. How can a man who has worked his entire life, but because of life circumstances has disqualified himself from getting a CPP Disability benefit?
Mr and Mrs Thompson thank you for speaking out.
Well this is a bit of a side step for me given the tone of my recent postings on this blog.
I would like to extend my apprciation to the Canada Pension Plan disability adjudicators who are working in their regions. It is obvious from my discussions with many of these staff members across various regions in Canada, that they would like to do their best to make sure the clients are submitting the most thorough CPP disability applications and reconsideration appeals.
I have been writing letters to the Canada Pension Plan adjudicators and asking them to hold the reconsideration reviews, until the clients have had an opportunity to submit all of the infromation they can to support their appeal (it is a client's onus). Many of the adjudicators state that they understand the long delays clients will face if they are denied and appealing to the Social Security Tribunal and would also like to ensure that individuals are not stuck in this process.
There has been one or two that really could care less but for the most part I tip my hat to those case-managers who want to help the clients in the best way that they can - and work with the case-managers who are helping the applicants!
Again I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to make sure you have submitted a complete application and if you are denied - I would recommend you find a knowledgable person to help you with this administrative review by Canada Pension Plan. The problem is - as you know - if you do not submit the best documentation that you can, and you are then denied by Canada Pension Plan - then you are faced with all the issues that I have written about in this blog.
Thank you for speaking out.
I have had several messages concerning the time lines at Canada Pension Plan. I am not talking about the horrendus delays at the Social Security Tribunal, but rather the adjudication and processing times at Canada Pension Plan disability.
These timelines are for adjudication on initial applications as well as time lines for adjudication on reconsideration appeals.
I confirmed with Service Canada today that the time lines are 26 weeks. That means it is taking over six months for a decision on a CPP disability application or appeal.
Okay so I know from the Freedom of Information requests that I have made that the denial rate on initial is around 62%. That means that it is going to take over six months for 6 out of 10 of you to be told that you are denied. And of those people who go on to appeal, it is going to take another six months before you receive a decision on the appeal - and if you are denied again - well then you are at the Social Security Tribunal.
From the information that I have read and have here in my office, there is a memorandum that notes that the Social Security Tribunal does not expect to be able to manage this backlog until 2017. In fact I quote from a Memorandum to the Minister of Employment and Social Development from the Social Security Tribunal dated February 2014 states "Based on the early assumptions, the transferred inventory and newly acquired inventory (the backlog) would be eliminated at the earliest by 2017."
So there you go folks. Please get help with your applications and your reconsideration appeals. This is no joke.
Please contact the office if you need help.
Today I have had six phone calls from clients wanting to know when their appeals will be heard. I have had another 5 emails asking why the department has not responded to any of the additional information that we have submitted.
In the mail I received more stupid denials from CPP disability (review my previous blogs).
I am waiting for files from CPP so that I can help clients manage their appeals - I am not receiving them in a timely fashion and the Feds are denying before the client has any time to submit additional documents.
I just feel this is a downward spiral - it is almost like the government wants to deny these claims knowing full well that the wait for an appeal is so long - that these people are either bankrupt and then they have no choice but to go on welfare.
This system is causing individuals to go without treatment - making them sicker - forcing them in to seperation or divorce - either due to depression or stress - or so that they can obtain some kind of provincial disability support. There are kids that are suffering because of this - and these people have paid in to the program - why is it so hard for them to get something they are entitled to receive - if the money is not there to pay the folk - then where is it? No insurance company would ever get away with this type of practice. They hold them accountable - they have appeal processes that allow for redress if there is an error. That is supposed to be what is available for individuals who are denied CPP - so why are they not getting the appeals - how is a three year process to get an appeal acceptable?
I have sent emails to the Information Line and received no information in fact I have not received a response and when I do get a response the file is pending. The Social Security Tribunal is so insular that I cannot even talk to a live person - or any person for that matter - to find out more details - and when they give us conference calls - we are told snottily to write a letter - I cannot tell you how many letters I have written. Perhaps I should start posting them all on this blog.
Look it really is not that hard - start hearing cases - start moving the backlog - start hiring members - rehire the Review Tribunal members - do something. How are 9000 appeals going to be heard by 26 members? How is that fair, accessible, or efficient?
I feel like I am airing dirty laundry but I just have no other release or way to let any one know what is happening here in this office every single day.
I really think it is a disgrace - the gentleman who phoned me today working and paid in to CPP from 1971 until 2010 - that is 39 years of contributions. He is 61 years of age. He has never taken a nickle in EI benefits. He first applied in July 2011. Despite sending in so much supportive medical information - we still have not even had this acknowledged - either by the Social Security Tribunal or Canada Pension Plan. He is just sitting waiting for a decision or appeal that never seems to occur.
Please get help with your CPP Application or if you are denied your appeal for Reconsideration.