Good Day everyone.
I am writing this blg to share a new process that is happening regarding the elimination of the Social Security Tribunal backlog.
There is a special unit that has been put in place that are reviewing the CPP legacy cases thave have been waiting to have their appeals heard at the SST. As you know, then Minister Kenney pledged to reduce the backlog by summertime - and this department in Gatineau, along with regional offices are working to sort through these files.
I think these appear to be just legacy cases at the moment - so this means - if you applied to have an appeal heard by the Review Tribunal and you were an existing appellant at the time of changeover - this will apply to you.
So the special unit is reviewing the appeal files and they are determining whether or not these files can be settled. That means - approved without a hearing. It was noted by the new minister in response to a question by Thomas Mulclair that the "special unit" is on track to have this backlog reduced by summer.
So what will happen, is that you may get a call from a CPP case-manager who will say that they are going to Propose a Settlement on your file. This means that the CPP are agreeing that you are disabled. As you know, there are two parties to the appeal - you and the CPP disability - so this call means that CPP disability has agreed that you are disabled and that you meet the legislative criteria.
Now what will happen is that you will get a letter stating that the agree you are disabled and indicating the date of onset of disability - you will need to check this out - to make sure it is correct- also you will get a Agreement to sign, as well as a Withdrawal Notice. The letters do explain why these documents need to be signed but if you are uncertain, give the CPP case manager a call.
This is good news for clients and I am happy that the people are finally getting these appeals sorted. Now just to add my two cents - I find it very disturbing that all of these appeals have sat and all of a sudden because of the heat the Feds have been receiving, that these Canadians are being approved - just like that. So many people have called my office recently in tears and shocked that this has happened, given that they had done everything previously to try and convince CPP disability that they were disabled only to be repeatedly denied. I still think the treatment of these people is nothing but a disgrace and I just think it is election optics. Do not forget what has happened to all of these people who have been devastated and bankrupted and even died while waiting for these appeals to be heard. Just my two cents people.
As I have said in my interview recently - the SST have touted that they have a 64 percent success rate - but this means that CPP disability got the decision wrong 64 out of 100 times. How is that good news?
Good luck to you all - I hope you get a call.
Here is the story on Mr. Peter McClure - please share. Allison
Here is another story that was printed yesterday. It speaks to the issue of the story airing tonight on Alberta Primetime.
I know that the SST are aware of every blog entry that I post - this was clearly evident in the 1848 pages of information I received when I did a Access to Information request on myself - so head's up Commissioner and Vice Chairs and all the Directors there who appear to enjoy reading and commenting about my blog and my spelling - I hope someone from the tribunal has taken the time to reach out to this man and offer whatever help you can to get this appeal matter sorted for him.
I know that everyone is working very hard to get the appeals scheduled - and that is great news - but at what prior cost? There should not have been financial ruin and mental devastation for people who have been stuck in this system and denied benefits by this government. And seriously - what "experts" are now reviewing the cases? Do they have more expertise that the people who reviewed the files two times prior and denied them??? Shouldn't experts have reviewed these files to begin with? Are you saying your staff was inept and you had to bring in "experts"? What a joke.
I think that it will all become very clear as these stories continue to appear and people continue to come forward.
If you have had an appeal scheduled by the tribunal please find someone to help you.
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.
This is the latest article on the Social Security Tribunal backlog. It notes in this article that Minister Kenney pledges to reduce the backlogged cases by summer 2015.
While I certainly hope that this is the case, I find it difficult to understand how with the current resources that are available you could make your way through the approximately 11,000 appeals. I feel there is a strong element of election year optics in play here and I will stand by my comments that leaving all of these people hanging and waiting and suffering is a national disgrace and should have been dealt with months ago.
It is already February and there are say five months to July and I am assuming that is when summer will start. So let's just make it six months until the end of August. That is 180 days. And if the backlog is 11,000 cases - then that means that the tribunal must hear around 60 cases a day. I do not know how this would be possible given the requirements and procedures the appeal goes through before an appeal date. As I have said in my previous posting - there is a 90 day document exchange - so that means that if Minister Kenney is going to reduce these back logs by the end of summer - all the hearings would have to be scheduled by March or April of 2015. Any way I will let enquiring minds decide whether this may be realistic or not.
I do hope it happens because it is time that these people who have been waiting get their appeals settled.
I hope they do well at the SST and get it done. I have concerns in that, I hope that the quality of the decisions will not suffer as a result of this frantic push to get these appeals done.
Also I fear that there will be telephone hearings and while this might be an efficient way to get an appeal heard I personally do not think this is best for the Appellant. I just know from the hundreds of appeal hearings I have attended that it is best to see and speak to the Appellant in person. I have also seen the statistics on the denial rates when a telephone hearing is conducted - I personally would avoid this option. Read my previous blogs on the statistics they are noted.
So if you are scheduled an appeal in the next little while, please get someone to help review this information. As I have said in my prior emails it is very important that this appeal is managed well as you will have very limited appeal rights if you are not prepared for this tribunal. I worry that all the Appellants who have been desperate to get an appeal heard will end up shafted. And not because of the staff and Tribunal Members at the SST but because they will not be adequately prepared for the appeal process.
Anyway, I wonder how things will unfold over the next little while - I know there is further investigations to see if this "pledge" that Minister Kenney is making is realistic and I wonder if Minister Kenney will end up regreting these statements.
I will keep you posted - If you get an appeal hearing date - call or email the office and we will be happy to give you some pointers. Allison
The Social Security Tribunal continue to work hard to schedule cases. It appears from what I am experiencing. that the legacy appeals are starting to move. I know that I am seeing hearings scheduled for cases in the 121 - 123 range. That is great news I am sure for many people who have been waiting for so long.
The first thing that will happen is that you will get a letter from the Social Security Tribunal advising that your appeal is now with a Tribunal Member and is ready to be heard. Approximately four to six weeks later, you will receive by express post mail (you have to sign for it) a complete copy of the documents the Social Security Tribunal has on file.
You will receive a letter with your hearing date information. It will tell you the type of hearing that you are going to have. As I have noted before, there are several ways for the Tribunal Member to conduct a hearing, they are a personal appearance, a video teleconference, a teleconference, written questions and answers, and a hearing on the record. Review what type of hearing that you are going to be given. I would think twice if you have been given a teleconference hearing. I think it is way better for you to have an in-person hearing or a video conference. I have outlined my reasons why I feel this way in earlier blog entries.
If you want to change the format of your hearing - then you will need to write a letter asking for this to be changed - and if you are in this boat - please contact the office and I will provide some information on how to proceed with that.
The next thing you will note is that there is a document exchange period. You will be required to submit documents by a certain date. At this time, you should review your file to determine if it is up to date with medical information. You would need to submit documents within this 90 day exchange period. I have had a client who was waiting for an appointment that fell within the 90 days but prior to the 30 day deadline that she had to submit her documents - so I wrote and asked for an extension and I have found that the Tribunal Members do their best to accommodate this - they want all the information they can get in order to help understand your appeal.
During this period you may also receive a submission from the Minister which is their position as to why your appeal should be denied. It is important to review this information - and to determine how you are going to respond to this. If you want to do a written submission it may help the Tribunal Member understand your position. I would however, make sure that you have this reviewed by an expert to ensure that you are submitting helpful information that fall within the government tenets (I hope I have spelled that right VC).
I would like to compliment the Tribunal Members that I have met in recent months - some new - and some I know from the old Review Tribunal. I think the hearings have been excellent - I think the Tribunal Members have been very well prepared and have done their utmost to ensure that the Appellants have a good hearing experience. The only complaint I have are the locations of the hearings - I think they could be a little more comfortable for the clients but really that is a minor complaint.
Do not manage this appeal alone, get someone to help you through the process - it is a big hearing - there is a lot at stake.
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.
A quick entry to update those people who are currently waiting for appeals at the Social Security Tribunal. I am speaking to those appellants who are Legacy Appeals - they are those who were at the Review Tribunal at the time of changeover to the Social Security Tribunal.
I have over the last two weeks received dates for hearings for individuals whose appeals are numbered 122 - 123.
So these individuals had probably applied to the Review Tribunal to have their appeal heard in around early 2012. These hearings are also being scheduled for the May - June 2015 period.
Still a huge back log waiting - all of the remainder of the legacy cases - they are numbered up to 125 and all of the Appeal GP-13 and GP-14. But progress - finally progress.
I would also like to caution people on two things - firstly - if you have an appeal scheduled at the Social Security Tribunal please get help with this. It is just plain foolish to try to manage this type of appeal alone. There is too much at stake and with very limited appeal rights if you are denied - you may just be done being able to apply for CPP disability again. Also, be careful who you choose to help you. There are individuals out there who claim to be able to do this work - I have written in prior blogs about the questions to ask if you are looking for someone to help you. If you like, you can call this office and ask me. I would rather help you decide than you rely on someone who does not have the expertise.
Secondly, try not to get to this level of appeal. If you have been denied CPP disability, get help at the initial stages of application and for sure at the reconsideration appeal. My staff and I can help prepare and audit your CPP Disability applications.