It has been a busy six months with a lot of work to be done here at DCAC Inc. We continue to be the premier service for individuals who have been denied their CPP disability benefits or who need help with the application process. We now have 12 staff members across Canada and we continue to grow.
Early this year the KMPG report was released. This report was commissioned by Minister Duclos in order to review the SST's processes to ensure it met the needs and expectations of Canadians, as well as to assess its fairness and transparency. The comprehensive report highlighted a number of facts which I will present over the next months, to inform Canadians about what is new and evolving in the Canada Pension Plan disability forum.
I have included several newspaper articles on the DCAC Facebook feed as this is more timely than my ability to blog sometimes! If you have not liked the DCAC page - you will find a link to it on the website.
I would like to start with a summary of the Key Findings - overall the review found that:
- The SST was born out of the previous government's initiative to save $25 million dollars and was announced in the Federal Budget without the benefit of any stakeholder engagement. The SST inherited a large backlog of appeal cases before they had staff, systems, or processes in place.
- The total cost of the SST is lower than the cost of the four legacy tribunals that were combined.
- Timelines for appeals are longer than the previous system and the average person waits over 500 days for their appeal to be heard.
- Examination of the appeal structure and the enabling legislation and regulations that were designed to expedite appeals have had the unintended consequence of slowing down the process and frustrating clients.
- The public consultations undertaken in order to produce the KPMG report - consistently identified dissatisfaction with the accountability of the SST and more is required to support a transparent, accountable tribunal.
- The government recognizes that social programs must be designed and delivered with a focus on the client - and the SST currently does not incorporate many of the leading practices of a client-centric organization.
There was unanimous agreement that the goal of the SST appeal system should be to serve vulnerable Canadians through a far, objective, and responsive appeals process and that achieving this goal will require a "resetting of the SST" shifting from a primary orientation to the law - towards a greater orientation to the client.
What does this mean? Well the findings have illustrated that there needs to be changes to the appeal system - and as I blog over the next while I will share with you my experiences with the SST, with the reconsideration appeal process, and with the application process. I will provide information about the recommendations of this report and highlight individual cases and how they fit in to the recommendation for changes that have been presented to Minister Duclos.
At this time, there has not been a response from the Minister on this report - and we do not know what recommendations will be followed. I do have several issues with the current SST appeal system specifically concerning access to justice issues. A right to appeal is meaningless if an appellant cannot navigate the appeal process - and I will talk about this moving forward.
If you are denied CPP disability and you need help appealing please get in touch with our office. We will be able to guide you and in most cases achieve a successful result on your behalf. I am very proud of the work that we do here - so much so - that DCAC has been nominated for two business excellence awards in the customer service category and business of the year for 2018. As well, March marks DCAC's 20th anniversary so it has been great to be acknowledged.
Last week we experienced a solar eclipse, something that is a rarity and infrequently happens. As I had my weekly staff meeting, we got to talking about what can happen in the blink of an eye.
Some disabilities are chronic and occur over a number of years - but sometimes disability happens quite literally in the blink of an eye - a fall off a ladder, being hit by a car, a stroke, a heart attack. Quite literally in the blink of an eye - a life can be changed.
At DCAC, we have been privileged to help thousands of individuals with disabilties navigate an often frustrating, confusing, and lengthy process of applying for or appealing CPP disability benefits. Our initial focus was to help people who had been denied, however over the last several years, we have been assisting individuals with their CPP disability applications and we are proud to say we have over 85% success rate.
A Facebook poster asked me why it is necessary for someone to pay for help in order to fill out government forms. I agree it shouldn't be necessary - but like you go to an expert to fill out your taxes - at DCAC we are experts in case-managing Canada Pension Plan disabilty applications. The CPP disability denial rate on initial applications is around 55% - our success rate illustrates why it is smart to obtain professional assistance to navigate the waters.
There are individuals who can manage on their own, but there are people who find the process completely overwhelming - those individuals who have brain injury or cognitive deficits - maybe English is their second language - maybe they do not have a great education so the forms are just daunting.
I feel that it is only a smart idea to get help right from the very beginning of the process. At DCAC provides value in the following ways:
- On the website we include a Canada Pension Plan disability Application kit which provides helfpul suggestions on making your application
- Our staff are experienced - you can see the level of accumulated experience when you read about our team. We understand the CPP disability legislation
- We have worked on thousands of cases and we understand how a disability application or appeal should be managed
- We provide all the service that you need seeing you right through the process - from application to appeal our work together will benefit you by achieving earliery approvals and assisting you to avoid common pitfalls of doing this alone
- We have all the available technology to support clients across the country - we have representatives across Canada
- We have years of accumulated contacts within the Canada Pension Plan - and we know who to call when help is needed
At DCAC - we have you covered - call us if you need help.
Thank you all very much for staying in contact with DCAC over the last couple of years. It has been a very busy time for us all here at DCAC and I now finally have some time to focus on keeping the blog entries current.
I would like to welcome you all to the new website - we hope that you like it and are able to get the information that you need to help you with your CPP disability matters.
My goal for this blog is to keep you updated on what is happening with CPP disability and to provide education and outreach if you are struggling to apply for CPP disabilty, or if you have been denied and need to appeal.
Over the last couple of years, there have been a number of newspaper stories on CPP disability which I would like to share with you all in the hopes that you will be well-informed to deal with the program.
In February 2016, the Auditor General of Canada, released its' findings on the Canada Pension Plan disability program - it was very scathing and a blessing to those of us who work within this system. Shortly after that report was released, the Minister instructed the reconstitution of the CPP Disability Roundtable and I was fortunate to be offered a seat at this table. This means, that I am able to speak up on behalf of the Canadians who have to deal with this system - and to offer my opinions on how the program can be more accessible. From the lengthy and complex application process - to the large denial rate - there are many good folk who are working towards change. I am looking forward to sharing some of the information on participation in this process. The Social Security Tribunal has recently been reviewed and we await the findings of the report due in Fall.
There is much to write about and over the next weeks I will be posting entries that I hope will be informative and interesting. Thank you for being here. Allison
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.