CPP Disability - Requesting a Reconsideration

If you have been denied CPP disability and you need to request a reconsideration, this has to be done before your 90 day appeal period expires.  I would send off a letter of appeal stating the following:

I do not agree with your decision to deny my CPP disability benefits.  I am disabled according to the legislative criteria and I wish to request a reconsideration.

Additional information to support my appeal may be forthcoming and I request that your office contact me to discuss this appeal prior to making a decision to ensure that I have had the opportunity to submit all the information I can to support my reconsideration appeal.

Make sure you put your Social Security Number on this letter and if possible I would send this letter in some traceable way - registered, express post etc. or I would drop it off to a Service Canada office and get receipt that you submitted this appeal letter.  Within a month you should receive a letter from CPP disability acknowledging that they have received your appeal. Make sure you watch out for this - and if you have not received a letter check in to it.

I wanted to talk about some self-help strategies to increase your chances of success.  Make sure you have done the following:

  • Obtained and reviewed your Canada Pension Plan disability file.  You can get a copy of your file by completing the Personal Information Request form which you will find in the Downloads section of this website.  You will need to send this form in to the CPP regional office who is adjudicating your claim.
  • Understand why CPP Disability are denying your claim.  I have posted a lot of information on the blog about why CPP disability is usually denied - and how to understand the CPP disability language.  If you understand the reasons why CPP disability have denied your claim then you will better understand how to put together your appeal. 
  • Find out what your MQP is?  Minimum Qualifying Dates are extremely important and you need to review your file to see if the medical information that has been submitted provides evidence around the time of the MQP.
  • Once you have reviewed your file, it is important to decide what additional supportive documentation you may need to get and who to get it from.  Make contact with your doctor and any other people you might want to get letters from.  Most doctors charge money to obtain the evidence you need to support your appeal.  It is not helpful to get a doctor to write that your disability is "severe and prolonged".
  • Understand your responsibility to provide information to support your appeal.  Understand how CPP disability is determined. Read through the blogs and the appeals guide on this website.
  • Make sure all the information you have collected will help with your appeal. Sometimes clients get discouraged because their doctors write that they may be able to do "some light work" but keep in mind that the work has to be regular and substantially gainful.  It is a good idea to speak to your doctor about their thoughts on your capacity to work before obtaining a written report.
  • Your written submission should address when you stopped working and why you think you are unable to work in any job because of your disability.  It should discuss if you have tried to return to work and failed due to your medical condition, and if you looked for work, how your disability prevented you from finding a job.  The submission should outline your functional limitations.

I suggest that given the state of the new appeal process at the Social Security Tribunal and the delays it appears many appellants will be facing, I strongly suggest that if you have been denied your CPP disability benefits that you get some professional advice to put together your reconsideration appeal in the hopes that you avoid any further delay.

CPP Disability Backlogs

There is a long line up of people waiting to attend a hearing  for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.

As the wait grows longer more and more people are enduring financial hardship as they wait to receive CPP disability benefits through a program they funded while they were working.

At the time of the changeover to the Social Security Tribunal approximately 7000 appeals were waiting to be heard, typically there is around 3000 cases per year added to the appeal process as Canada Pension Plan have a 62% denial rate. Wait times have significantly increased causing hardship.

If your application is denied and you have to appeal your Canada Pension Plan disability claim, it is very important that you get help from a professional.

The implementation of the Social Security Tribunal was touted to save the goverment around $24,000,000.  This reduction in staffing in terms of tribunal panel members along with a centralized 1-877 Information Line have led to increased wait times to have basic enquiries answered.

 

Help When Filing a CPP Disability Appeal

We recommend the following steps when planning to file a appeal for CPP Disability benefits.

1.  Get Help

Those who have applied to CPP for disability benefits without a representative should get help with the reconsideration appeal.  If you are at the Social Security Tribunal level - it is imperative that you find someone to help you.  I have clearly outlined the reasons why a represenative is clearly beneficial in my prior blog entries.

2.  Don't Give Up

When people apply for CPP disability  and are denied benefits, they may decide to give up on their application.  It is very important to pursue a disability appeal - 62% of people who apply for CPP disability are denied - the denial rate appears to be systemic.  It is important to pursue a disability appeal because delaying or missing important deadlines can cause problems with you appeal.

3.  Provide the necessary documentation and details

It can take CPP disability  many years to review a CPP disability claim through the appeal process which reminds you to submit good documentation.  Continue to see your doctor and make sure you submit new medical evidence and testing as it arises.  It is important to correct any errors, explain changes to your medical condition, and provide more detail to CPP disability which is another reason why you should have a case-manager to help you with your appeal.'

I believe it is more critical than before for new CPP disability applicants to get expert assisatnce and help when applying for their benefit and to use a case-manager like those here at the Disability Claims Advocacy Clinic.  The expertise and attention to detail we are able to provide could help you receive your disability benefits as early as your initial application, which may mean avoiding the disability appeal process altogether.

 

 

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.

 

 

Notice of Readiness issues

Okay so this is happening over and over again.

Clients are signing Notice of Readiness documents without understanding the issues.

So it appears that then the Minister reviews the file and sees that there is not enough information to support the appeal, so they sign a Notice of Readiness without sending an Explanation which then prevents the appellant from responding to their position and sending in any additional information to fix any deficiencies on the file.

Last week a lady who has very little literacy levels had signed Notice of Readiness documents and yet there were pages of information that were missing from her file.  I requested an opportunity for a postponement which was denied. 

The Canada Pension Plan principles of interpretation have been held that the program  "be liberally construed to advance its benevolent purpose, with reasonable doubts and ambiguities being resolved in the claimant's favour to ensure that the legislative benefits reach the person for whom they were designed"

How is denying a request for a postponement and preventing a claimant from adding additional documents to a file furthering this mandate?

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday???????????

Please do not sign documents - if the insurance companies ask you to sign documents like the Notice of Readiness - do not sign any documents without professional advice.

In the next blog installment - I will share how a person was offered adisability benefit from CPP a month before the MQP expires - despite being unable to work three years prior to this date - and basically if this person signs this agreement they will receive none of their back pay benefits. Stay tuned on that one.