Notice of Readiness - why it's flawed

A client is appearing by video conference before the new Social Security Tribunal next week.

He has been waiting for an opportunity to present the case since 2012 and has finally got a meeting.

He has been dealing with many various symptoms such as weakness, numbness, pain, issues with vision, balance, faigue, etc. for years.  He has had numerous diagnoses and labels assigned to these symptoms.

The beginning of March he had an health incident which led to him receiving an MRI report.  The MRI results came in last week and the MRI results show he has lesions like those found with MS.

Now, this is significant objective information and is an integral piece of the puzzle almost an answer to the symptoms he has been experiencing for years.

What's the problem?

Because the hearing has been scheduled I contact the Social Security Tribunal to find out how I can submit this important piece of medical information.  This is the response that I have received:


You should submit the new information to use immediately (fax or email) being sure to include an explanation as to why you feel it should be accepted.  It will be up to the Member to decide if the new information is accepted.

Okay, I strongly feel that an appellant should be able to submit all the information to help support their appeal - this is his onus - his responsibility - to establish that he meets the criteria for disability - yet a Tribunal Member can decide if additional information can be accepted?  I have said all along that disability is fluid, things change quite often, new answers come to the fore front, new tests reveal new diagnoses, disability gets worse, new doctors come on board, mental health declines, new drugs are tried, there are so many things that can happen.

Yet this Social Security Tribunal feels that I have to ask a Member if they will accept information to help support an appellant's case?  I just do not think that is right. I do not feel that this impartial, arms-length appeal body should be able to decide whether or not pertinent information should be accepted. How is that giving an appellant an opportunity to fully present their appeal?  It worries me because this is a one kick at the can appeal  and if you are prevented by some Notice of Readiness document then how can that person prepare for the ups and downs of the Canadian medical system and the unpredictability of disability?

Okay I will let you know how this all transpires but it is certainly food for thought to keep in mind as you prepare for your appeal.

 

Rest In Peace Mr. S.

So to top off my week I got word today that Mr. S. client who has been waiting for an Social Security Tribunal passes away as a result of his disability on March 16th, 2014.  Mr. S. applied for CPP disability in May 2012.  He had a complicated case I am not going to deny this - but it was one of those cases where paper documents do not show the totality of this man's disability - nor his story - which was complex and frankly very sad, due to mental illness, addiction, and a host of other problems.  CPP also denied him because he worked after his MQP - but as I have said before, the Feds deny you because they say you have not tried to work in order to test your capacity - and when you do try - they say you are not disabled because you worked.

Anyway, rest in peace Mr. S. It was a pleasure knowing you and you have a wonderful daughter and family who will continue to pursue your fight.

Social Security Tribunal - When will you get an appeal?

I have had several emails this week asking me what will happen after the 365 days expire on March 31, 2014 for the legacy appeal cases that came over to the new Social Security Tribunal from the old Review Tribunal.

Many people have asked me when they can expect that their appeals will be heard.

On March 10, 2014 I emailed the Chair of the Social Security Tribunal to ask what the strategy would be in terms of what the Social Security Tribunal will be in terms of managing this large volume of appeals - to date I have not got a response but as soon as I do I will post this information on the blog.

What I do know is that I have sent in many appeals with Notice of Readiness signed and I have not got any response from the Minister in terms of their position.  The expiry is coming up so am I to assume that they are not going to add their position?

I also know that I have sent in appeals in September 2013 and I have not had any indication when an appeal will be held.

So the short answer to when you will get an appeal - well who knows and I am hoping once I hear back from Madam Chair at the Social Security Tribunal that we will be able to have some answers.

If you are not prepared and have not submitted all of your appeal information you will need to request an Extension of time to submit the Notice of Readiness to the Social Security Tribunal.  You will need to provide reasons why you are requesting an extension.  I have been able to request extensions on files in which I have asked for additional medical and I have yet received this from the doctor.  Frankly I  think this whole Notice of Readiness process is flawed because disability is fluid and Appellants who have forward MQPS should be able to continue to submit information, also I do not feel that anyone should be prevented from providing information which will help support their appeal. 

I have noticed that the Minister's Explanation of Decision are pretty much identical in most cases - except for the name change - but basically they argue the same points everytime - you would think that they would be more creative with denials - but perhaps they have no other way but to follow the denial script.  When I have some time after this deadline expires, I will write about the Explanation and how to address these points.

Any questions please call or email, and as soon as I hear what the strategy is for the SST hearing these appeals I will advise.

 

Social Security Tribunal

I was very grateful to receive communication from the Social Security Tribunal who have reached out to acknowledge and reassure me that they understand the concerns and are striving to resolve them as efficiently as possible.

I understand and can certainly appreciate that this is a transition year and the SST will have challenges and kinks to iron out.

I understand that there are good people staffing the office and that they really want to ensure that the process is going to work well.

I think we all have no other choice but to patient.

Please ensure if you are in this new appeal system that you use this time to get your case prepared to avoid any further delays.

I know this is a very difficult time for many of you who are waiting - I am bringing your concerns forward and will continue to advise on this blog as I hear more information.

 

 

Another Client

Her name in Shirley.

She is in tears on the phone right now and told me that she has had a mental breakdown.

Her documents were sent in December 2013 to the Social Security Tribunal.

She cannot cope with the stress her disabiliy is getting worse.

She applied for her CPPD three years ago.

I just do not know what else I can do.

 

 

CPP Social Security Tribunal

A client who I shall call Shelley was denied at the old Review Tribunal level.

Documents were submitted to the Appeal Division of the Social Security Tribunal requesting Leave to Appeal by courier on September 5th, 2013.

To date, I have not received any consideration on this matter.  This is the answer I got from the Social Security Tribunal:

No decision on leave to appeal at this time.

This client phones me repeatedly, at least once a week asking what is going on with her case.  She has no money for treatments, she is using her line of credit to pay for her medication. I requested information and al I am told is that there is "no decision on leave to appeal at this time"  It is now five months since I have submitted these documents.

 

Another lady, let's call her Delia, she was successful at the Review Tribunal and was granted benefits, but within the 90 day appeal period, the Minister appealed the favourable decision and requested Leave to Appeal.  Her hearing was heard at the Review Tribunal in March 2013 the same month as Shelley.

Despite documents being submitted by the Minister requesting the appeal, she still has not had a decision.  It has been almost a year since she had her Review Tribunal hearing.  This is the response I got back to my request for information via email just moments ago:

Hello,

There has not been a decision made on the request for Leave to Appeal yet.

We will inform you when the decision has been made.

Regards,

Social Security Tribunal

 

 

The gentleman I spoke of in my last blog his documents were submitted October 2013 and there has been no decsion by the department or Notice of Readiness submitted - so he just sits in limbo.  This is what I was told:

We are waiting on the Notice of Readiness from the Minister.  It appears as though the last mail we received from you was on October 23, 2013.

 

There is a ground swell of support coming through this office and I am very appreciative of all the calls and emails and the sharing of individual stories - from the people who are tyring to cope with this new 'efficient' system,  the disability community,  the various MPs officers of all stripes across the country, from the ex-panel members who have reached out, and the judges of the Pension Appeals Board, to the staff who are forced to work in the trenches (I know they are good people) to the opposing side of the fence, I thank you very much and to the 500 people who read this blog a week I am working my very best to shed light.

Yesterday I had a phone call from a fellow advocate who advised that one of his clients passed while waiting for a hearing - he appealed to the old Review Tribunal in May 2012 and died while waiting. I am so sorry to hear that but the advocate continues on for this man's estate - he was 62 years old - the information regarding his terminal condition was sent in to the Tribunal but it just sat there - there was no decision, no Minister's explanation why this man was denied.  I was sad all night about this - it is so appalling.  I thank you advocate for calling me.

This government is disgraceful in my opinion;  from the senate scandals, to the way they have treated the vets, to what they are doing to people with disabilities, to cut backs to national disability organizations - I just do not get it.  Let's all think about this today on budget day when the Feds tout their good work at balancing budgets - if only the majority knew what was happening to these good people of Canada stuck in this appeal system.

 

An Update to my last blog on the Social Security Tribunal

On February 3rd, 6th, and 7th I sent emails requesting information on the status of the file that I spoke about in my last blog. 

Today I sent another two emails including to the Director of the SST.

Let's see if I get a response today.

This is unaccceptable.  This is unacceptable.  This is unacceptable.  How many times do I have to say it?

Also, my request for the Policy and Procedure documents have again been ignored.

Why? Why have any request to understand and be informed of how the new Social Security Tribunal operates have been ignored.

So much for transperancy and the efficient operations of this government as touted in the Chairman's welcome message.

This man who I am requesting information on, had to apply for consumer protection of his debts because he has been waiting since he appealed the denial of his benefits to the Review Tribunal in March 2012 and his application for CPP Disability was April 2011.

I am appalled at the destitution these people are forced to endure.

Make the information available Social Security Tribunal so that these people can move on with their lives.

 

 

 

Social Security Tribunal - Please address these delays

I am speaking with a client who has been forced in to Consumer Protection with the bankruptcy process because he has been waiting since April 2011 for CPP disability benefits.  He has been denied twice and has been waiting to be heard at the old Review Tribunal and now at the Social Security Tribunal.

That is a three year wait so far.

I had sent over all the documents - the case has been ready to proceed and yet I have not had even an acknowledgment that the documents collected on his file and sent to the Social Security Tribunal were received.

I sent these documents in early fall.

This is unacceptable and what the heck is going on there?  This is not an isolated incident - I have a list of 20 files that I have sent documents over that have not been acknowledged nor have they been responded to.   I have sent in numerous documents and nothing has been responded to - who is running this place?

It is not just me that is frustrated - I hear the department is as well.  All these documents that the SST want to control, yet they are missed and not sent, not acknowledged, and just not part of files. Read my last blog, that necessitated an email to The Chairperson before I knew what was going on in this file. 

At the time that I emailed The Chairperson of the SST, I also requested documents including policy and procedure manuals,  because from my view point,  the SST seem to be making up process as they go along - I requested these from The Chairperson of the SST and as yet I have had no follow up on these.  Another tilt to the playing field especially with these Members seem to "have discretion" over everything.  This particular case, I was advised that the Member "has discretion" to accept or not accept documents - when clearly as far as I see this is not indicated any where in any rule or regulation - which is why I request a copy of the rules the SST were following.  I would also like to know - how an appeal board - could possibly veto documents that might support a client's appeal - what right do they have to do so - is that justice - is that fair - is that giving a client due process? 

They have stated that this is a "transition year" - so what? Do all these people who are now requesting consumer protection for their debts get to excuse the delayed payment on their debts because it is a transition year at the SST?  What a load of rubbish.

Please if you have been denied and you are either waiting for an appeal to be heard at the SST, or if you are at the Reconsideration stage - get help because quite frankly you do not want to be at the end of consumer protection proceedings.

This government sucks.

 

Social Security Tribunal

I have had new information sent to the Social Security Tribunal now for months and have not had any response on these files.

Clients are calling me asking why we have not had any news.

One client's documents were submitted in early September 2013 and NOT A WORD has been heard - not even an acknowledgment that the information was received.

Obviously I am very frustrated and it is starting to show here on these blog entries.  I trust people to give me correct information especially when I am dealing with a new process that no one was really given information on.  I had one brief webinar from the Social Security Tribunal on the new processes but that is it.  I do not know how regular people who do not have my level of experience are able to manage this system.  I have been caught relying on information that was clearly incorrect that was given to me from the Department. I feel like a fool.

I have had some nice responses back from my recent entries from other indviduals who are also having troubles so at least I know I am not alone.

 

 

Lack of Access to CPP Disability Jurisprudence

In the past, you were able to access prior Pension Appeals Board decisions which were considered part of the CPP disability jurisprudence, along with cases heard by the Federal Court of Appeal.  You were able to access these decisions to help you prepare and support your appeal to the tribunals.

This information is now available through the Social Security Tribunal website however they have taken out the subject/keyword searchability which means that you can only get decisions from this database if you know specifically the name of the Appellant or the Appeal number.

But not just that, many of the cases are only by initial, so how would you possibly be able to find the information you need in order to help you support your case.

This was bought to my attention by a colleague who has suggested to me that it clearly gives the "playing field" another tilt.

I happen to agree with him.  Please fix this Feds because it is not FAIR.  It gives you an up on a person who does not have the capability to do the same level of searches as you do - how is that FAIR???

You have a big advantage over an applicant. Talk about David and Goliath.