Interesting SST appointments,.

  1. Dwayne Provo: failed Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Candidate in 2006 and 2009
  2. Pierre Lafontaine:  failed Conservative candidate in Jeanne-Le Ber in 2011
  3. Jean-Philippe Payment: failed Conservative Candidate in Terrebonne-Blainville in 2011
  4. Claude Durand: failed Conservative candidate in Trois-Rivieres in 2008
  5. Alcide Boudreault: failed Conservative candidate in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord in 2004 and 2006
  6. Mark Borer: member of the Don Valley West Conservative Party Riding Association
  7. Oudit Rai: member of the Durham Conservative Riding Association
  8. Dominique M Bellemare: failed Conservative candidate in Beauharnois-Salaberry in 1997, 2008 and 2004
  9. Joseph Wamback, Federal Progressive Conservative candidate in York North in 2000

An Interesting Story.......

NDP asks parliamentary committee to look into appointees’ Tory ties

The Canadian Press and Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press May 22, 2013 05:28:07 PM

OTTAWA – The federal New Democrats are asking a parliamentary committee to look into political appointments to the new Social Security Tribunal.

New Democrat MP Chris Charlton put forward a motion Wednesday asking the human-resources committee to examine the qualifications of several appointees with Conservative ties.

The request comes a day after a Canadian Press investigation found as many as one of every five chairpersons on the Employment Insurance Boards of Referees ran afoul of federal guidelines by giving money to political parties, riding associations and election candidates while they served on the tribunal.

Elections Canada records show all but one of the dozens of donations went to Conservatives, with the lone non-Tory donation going to a Liberal riding association in the Toronto area.

Federal guidelines stipulate that appointees to administrative tribunals, such as the EI referees boards, which hear complaints about EI decisions on issues such as denied benefits and fraud, are not supposed to engage in any political activities.

The committee must make a decision on the motion and report back to the House of Commons by next Tuesday.

For a second day in a row, the Conservatives were grilled in question period about the donations.

“Under the Conservatives, insiders are allowed to play by different rules than the rest of us. The Conservative appointees to EI boards clearly violated government guidelines when they donated money to the Conservative Party,” Charlton said.

“Now, we learn that the Conservatives are repeating their mistakes. They have recently appointed 10 more failed Conservative candidates and party operatives to the new Social Security Tribunal.”

Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, the government House leader, said appointments to the new Social Security Tribunal, which replaces the EI referees boards, will be made on “merit.”

“The members of the Social Security Tribunal are, of course, appointed through a rigorous process, a rigorous selection process that ensures that they have to meet specific experience and competence.”

The EI referees boards are among the dozens of federal organizations whose ranks are filled in whole or in part by people appointed by the Governor General, on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

The boards sit part-time in groups of three, consisting of a government-appointed chair and representatives of workers and employers.

In last year’s omnibus budget legislation, the governing Conservatives announced a new Social Security Tribunal would replace the EI referees boards. Canada Pension Plan and old age security claimants will also be able to appeal to the tribunal.

However, the EI referees boards will continue to hear appeals filed before April 1. The boards will decide on those cases until Oct. 31, at which point their unheard appeals will be transferred to the new tribunal.

The NDP has identified what it says are appointees to the Social Security Tribunal with Conservative ties, including failed federal and provincial Conservative candidates, members of Tory riding associations and a former provincial Tory cabinet minister.

What a duffer.

Coming from British descent, quite often my grandmother referred to foolish older men as duffers.  For example, she would say, your grandfather is such a duffer when he forgot the garden hose on to long.

I cannot help but see the irony in this term at the moment - seems like the whole government is full of duffers!  I am not going to provide political commentary as it is not really my lane, but I will always provide my opinion on what I feel is happening within the confines of the CPP Disability program.

The bureaucracy who decided to implement this new Social Security Tribunal (SST) were a huge bunch of duffers!.

I did get some correspondence from the SST yesterday.  What I found interesting about this letterhead was that there was a Government of Canada heading on it. What I mean by that, is that back when we had the Review Tribunal and the Pension Appeals Board, their letterhead had there own logo's or coat of arms, and there was no mention of the Government of Canada.

I think what is bothering me about this, is my concern about impartiality.  If the Government of Canada (Service Canada) is denying your application and appeals for disability twice then how is the Government of Canada (Social Security Tribunal) going to be seen as impartial?

Denied CPP Disability benefits? 10 Common Mistakes People Make.

The following are some common mistakes people make when considering a disability application or appeal.

1.  CPP disability applicants give up.  Many people are denied benefit on the first application.  Unless you are denied on a technicality (no contributions for example), you should not give up.  You should get the denial reviewed by a professional. Keep going it can be a big mistake to give up.

2.  Applicants miss appeal deadlines.  You have 90 days from the date you received the decision to appeal a denied CPP disability benefit.  A big mistake is to miss appeal deadlines.  Even if you send off a brief letter advising that you intend to appeal right after you get the letter of denial at least you meet your deadlines.  The Minister does have discretion to allow for a late appeal but there need to be very good reasons.

3.  If you are denied on your initial application and you send for an appeal - a big mistake is not to address the errors or ommissions included in the original denial. As you know, it is your onus or responsibility to provide the information required in order to support your application or appeal.  If you are denied because CPP says there is no objective medical evidence for example, and you know you have had xrays in the past, make sure you fix this error and collect and submit the medical infomation.  This is one example of how errors need to be fixed. 

4.  If you want to waste your time and appeal arguing that the original appeal decision is wrong, and threaten lawyers, or whomever in your appeal letter, do not bother.  It is far more important to move on.  Get new information to support your appeal.  Again do not waste your time and energy calling out the CPP disability adjudicator on their skills and experience.  It does not bode you well.  These kind of things follow you in the file - so just bite your tongue.

5.  A big mistake Applicants make is not staying in contact with Canada Pension Plan Disability.  I cannot tell you how many times a person has moved and not notified the CPP disability.  Then they wonder why they do not get their letters and then they miss appeal periods.  You need to keep in contact with CPP disability and let them know if you have any upcoming medical tests or appointments, or if you are waiting for a medical report from your doctor.  Having a representative from DCAC inc. will help you ease this burden but it is critical to keep the CPP updated.

6.  You must keep a copy of all the records your have submitted to CPP disability including the application, letters of appeal, letters from your doctors.  Applications get lost people I have seen it happen over and over again.  Keep an excellent paper trial. Also keep notes of any phonecalls you receive from the CPP disabilty.

7.  A common mistake is not understanding the CPP disability rules.  Many times when the CPP disabilty call, they tend to ask questions which might provide them with the certain answers they need in order to help them deny a claim.  A big mistake is not undertanding the playing field. If you understand the adjudication framework then you are less likely to shoot yourself in the foot with the "wrong answer".  This is a good reason to have a case-manager onside, we are able to avoid some of these problems by helping you level the playing field.

8.  Explaining your functional limitations and how your disability prevents you from working is critical. A big mistake people make is not adequately explaining their functional limitations either by under reporting or over reporting.  This is where getting an experienced case-manager can help with completing of the documentation to ensure that this mistake is avoided.

9.  Waiting to long to get help is a mistake. DCAC case-managers can provide the help you need at any stage including the initial application. With the implementation of the Social Security Tribunal I think it is moe important then ever to get help.  Applicants do not consider the benefits of hiring a case-manager and I think this is big mistake.  Read through this blog to learn about how DCAC can help and has helped many Canadians be successful. 

10.  Relying on the information provided by CPP disability or Service Canada.  Again not my intention to disrepect government workers.  I cannot tell you how many denial letters I have read that do not consider the totality of the information that has been submitted, or that did not consider the CPP adjudicaton framework, or agents who do not give people the correct information.  It is a big mistake not to ask for clarification, understand the playing field, and get a professional opinion on how to proceed in terms of an application or appeal.


How long does it take to get CPP disability Benefits?

I have had a lot of calls this week.  Many of the people who call me ask how long it will take to get a CPP disability benefit?

That is a good question.

From my chats with CPP staff I do know they are meeting their service standard time expectations in terms of adjudication.  So I can safely say that it will take approximately 4 months from the date of the application to get some kind of decision.  There are exceptions of course.  If CPP disabiity wishes to develop the file and get more medical evidence then obviously it will take longer and be dependent on your physician, but if the Feds are developing your file it is not a straight out denial so that is a good thing.

When you put in an application you should get an acknowledgement letter from CPP disability stating that the application has been recevied.  I have had a couple of people that have sent in applications only to be told that they have not been received - so make sure you take a photocopy of your original application and perhaps drop the application off to a Service Canada office.

If you are denied on initial application, you will receive the denial letter - and you must appeal this denial within 90 days of receipt of the letter.  It is very important to meet these time deadlines - the Feds do have the option to allow for a late appeal over the 90 days - but there must be exceptional reasons why you are not meeting your 90 day requirement.

After you have submitted a reconsideration, again you are looking at perhaps a four to five month wait to get a decision.  I would not delay in putting in the reconsideration letter - as I have said before in prior blogs - just keep it simple but advise the Feds that you wish to appeal - and ask for a reconsideration.

Then if you are denied at reconsideration you are looking at an appeal to the CPP Social Security Tribunal, And if you read my blog then you know the delays so far.

Okay the take away from this blog is this - make sure you have a complete application to submit to CPP disability - and make sure you understand the legislative tenants and how CPP disability adjudicate a claim. Because of the lengthy delays at the CPP Social Security Tribunal I would suggest that if you are going through the reconsideration process that you get some help with this - to avoid another denial.  Get in touch with the office here and let our experts at least review your file.  We do not charge a fee for a file review.

There is a a Terminally Ill Application - that is used for patients when the physician has determined the illness to be terminal with a prognosis of less than 12 months.  The application is shorter and the processing time for the Terminally Ill application is significantly shorter obviously.  If you do have a terminal illness and you fill out the regular CPP application I would suggest you write terminal illness on the top of the application so it can be flagged.

After the conference in Vancouver, many of the individuals who stopped by the booth to talk to me and express interest in what I do -also offered a list of topics that would like me to write about.  I will endeavour to do this over the next couple of weeks.  There are some exciting topics and I appreciate the ideas.  I have a collection of decisions of the numerous cases I have worked on over the last 15 years so I will also use some of these to illustrate concepts of the CPP adjudication process.  Thank you for contacting my office and thank you for the continued encouragement.   As always I am grateful for the support.  If you have read my resume you will know that I am Austrailan by birth, however I am also Canadian by choice.  I am proud to offer this service to my fellow Canadians. Take Care. Allison

Why are we waiting? CPP Social Security Tribunal

Why are we waiting?

The transition was touted as being "seamless" for Canadians.

No news from the CPP Social Security Tribunal.

No letters advising what the new process is going to be.

Five calls yesterday from people asking me what is happening with their appeals - three emails this morning.

I have identified what I know in prior blog entries and unfortunately no one can tell me when the people waiting for appeals will get a hearing.

If you are waiting for an appeal my advice is to really start preparing your case - as I have said in prior emails - before you get an appeal hearing you need to sign a Notice of Readiness - which means once that is signed you cannot submit additional information - so you need to make sure your case is ready to go - that is what I am doing with my clients - case-managing their information so that when the time comes - they are ready to go.

I do not know how the backlog is going to be managed - especially when there are so few Social Security Tribunal Members - and so few of them who had any prior experience in Canada Pension Plan disability. Please contact me if you were waiting for an appeal at the Review Tribunal prior to changeover April 1, 2013.



Busy Time

Last week I attended the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Conference in Vancouver.  I think the most common comment I heard from the 'industry' folk concerned the inconsistency of the Canada Pension Plan adjudication decisions.  By that I mean, how there appears to be no rhyme or reason to why decisions are approved and why decisions are denied.

I came back to some lovely gifts of thanks received from clients including a 50 year old carving of an owl by one of my nothern clients.  I also received some cards expressing thanks for my work as well as a bouquet of flowers.  I thought to myself I should go away more often!  I am very blessed and fortunate to be able to do this work.

In terms of the new Social Security Tribunal - I was advised that we would hear by the end of April what is going to happen in terms of process and that we would have letters to advise the procedure.  As yet, this has not happened and despite requests I still have not had any response to my enquiry.

I had an email from a client yesterday who asked me how long this process would take - when I said quite a while - she disclosed to me the family was on the verge of bankruptcy. So okay, I have had one client last month who is now homeless, and this month another client whose family (NOTE SHE HAS CHILDREN) is on the verge of bankruptcy.  One of the files I looked at yesterday, the client had submitted for a Review Tribunal in May 2012 - now that means she has waited a year already and we have no idea when these new Social Security Tribunal hearings will start.

When I looked at the Governor In Council appointments which are online and available for all to see, there are only 10 appointments in the Income Security Division which is who will hear CPP appeals.  As I have indicated before, I have seen documentation that states there are about 6500 appeals outstanding at the Review Tribunal at the time of changeover.  So my question is how on earth is this bottle neck of appeals going to be solved???

I want to do something, I want to tell someone, but I do not know who.  If anyone has any suggestions for me, please call the office or send me an email.  I think the only thing we can do is start telling MPs but frankly where is that going to go?  Perhaps a letter to the Minister?

I had also sent in a Freedom of Information request to find out about how the decision to form this Social Security Tribunal came down - as frankly I think everyone was blind-sided by this decision.  First off the goverment wanted to charge me $6400 to get the information, so I modified my request. They came back to me stating that their search fees had been reduced to $120 which I agreed to.  My latest letter from them says that they are supposed to provide me the documents in 30 days but they need an extension for another 270 days (which by my calculation is 9 months).  I think there is a bit of a pattern here.

With the Review Tribunal and the Pension Appeals Board there was transperency.  I could phone up and ask what was happening in terms of the file.  Now I call an information line and I am told they will call me back by three days - note the last time they said they would call me back - I still have not got a call and that was a month ago.

This is just unacceptable.  It is unacceptable to treat Canadians who have paid in to CPP for many years to stall and stall and stall to force people in to bankruptcy, to have them lose their homes.  Note many of these people will not qualify for Social Services because they have a spouse who works.  These families are under significant stress, the client is unable to afford the treatment and medications that they need.  The clients are getting sicker due to financial stress and now they are depressed or have anxiety. The government delays are part of the problem in terms of increasing disability.  By the time the client gets an appeal - they are so messed up physically and mentally because the system has made them sicker. 

Anyway back to the grind stone.  I will keep you posted.


CPP Social Security Tribunal - Notice of Readiness

Please understand this document that will be sent to any person who was waiting for an CPP appeal at the old Review Tribunal level or who has to appeal to the new Social Security Tribunal.

The new Social Security Tribunal rules now require that every party to the appeal must sign a Notice of Readiness indicating that they are ready to proceed - and only after this document is signed will the Social Security Tribunal move to the next step which is processing and scheduling your appeal. 

No one should sign this document unless they are completely comfortable that they have all the information they wish to present, and have taken all the steps necessary to get this information in order to have their case considered.  You have 365 days from the date your appeal is received by the Social Security Tribunal to sign the Notice of Readiness.

As I have said in prior blog entires - I have concerns about this process for numerous different reasons.  Circumstances can change in the blink of an eye - new medical tests can discover diagnoses that were not on the table before, it can take a long time to get a medical appointment, Minimum Qualifying Period dates can change - working in this process now for as long as I have - situations,  especially disability are ever-changing.  So if you wait the year - in order to get all the information you need to establish you are disabled - how much longer are you going to have to wait after that to get an appeal?

Alot of the individuals I work with may not understand the importance of the document, the Notice of Readiness that they are signing.  I am afraid there is little transperancy when it comes to dealing with the CPP disability process.  How is an person, without understanding the rules of the game, expected to know whether they have submitted all of the information they should in order to be ready for an appeal?

How is paper documentation going to quantify the experience of subjective symptoms - like pain or mood or fatigue?

Okay I think it is going to take a while before appeals at the Social Security Tribunal are going to be heard.  It is a time of transition.  So in the meantime, it is critically important that you review your appeal documentation that was sent to you by the old Review Tribunal office or CPP disability and check to see what documents are included.  Also look for information about your MQP - remember that is your MAGIC DATE  - it is located throughout your file - usually December of a given year.  You need to make sure you have collected information to establish your disability from your MQP to present. 

Contact me if you need further clarification.  As I am not travelling for a while you can call me in the office or send me an email.



Some information on the SST

All appellants will receive a letter from the Social Security Tribunal by the end of this month advising them of the next steps since their file has been transferred to the SST. 

Individuals who will now be at the General Division (old Review Tribunal or new appeals to the SST) will receive information on the Notice of Readiness process and a copy of the Notice of Readiness itself. The regulations state that every party to the appeal has to sign the Notice of Readiness indicating they are ready to proceed. 

Please be advised that once you submit this form  - no additional information can be submitted.  Please do not sign this form until you have consulted with an expert.

Still no information as to when the appeals will actually begun to be heard.


CPP Disability Please Advise?

I just got off the phone with Lyndon.  I have written about Lyndon in prior blog enties.

He is a man without a label - many functional limitations - has had appointments with many doctors - has had many doctor's letters written to CPP disability supporting his appeal - but still he has been denied because he has no label - no medical diagnosis. 

Lyndon has been dealing with the CPP Disability appeals system for at least 18 months.

He was denied at Reconsideration and we had appealed to the now defunct Review Tribunal and he has been transferred over to the CPP Social Security Tribunal.

Lyndon phoned me this morning - he was crying.  He had gone to his provincial government for disability funding but he and his wife had been denied because she makes too much income (less than $1500 per month). 

They have gone through all their savings - all their retirement savings.  He and his wife are now about to become homeless.  He gave me his sister's number so I can get in touch with him.

He asked me how long this process is going to take - and I gave him the only answer I can.  I DON"T KNOW.  And I do not know because no body from the government will give us the information. 

I am really  heartbroken for Lyndon.  The desperation he is feeling.  I just do not know what to say to someone who is losing everything because of this system.

I would really appreciate a call back CPP Social Security Tribunal.  I have not had any response to my questions.