Questions in the House of Commons

Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims (Newton—North Delta, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the chair of the social security tribunal told the human resources committee that she had been in continuous contact with the minister regarding the backlog.

Yet, for 18 months now, that backlog has continued to grow while the tribunal has been understaffed and working without performance standards. More than 14,600 Canadians are now waiting for a hearing.

All of this begs the question: Why did the minister not take action sooner to address the enormous mess at the social security tribunal?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, again, in fact our ministry did take action by introducing a new approach towards reconsideration of EI refusals. That now happens quickly, by a public servant who, remarkably, actually picks up a phone and calls the person who has asked for a reconsideration, and sorts it out, often getting additional documentation.

This means that we are now resolving about 90% of those refusals at a reconsideration stage in a matter of weeks, without having to go through a lengthy multi-month quasi-judicial process.

In terms of the CPP cases before the tribunal, we are adding additional decision-makers and taking other administrative measures to speed up the process.

Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP): Mr. Speaker, behind every one of those numbers is a person who needs to put food on the table and pay the bills.

People cannot wait years for the government to get its act together. Nearly 10,000 Canadians still waiting for an appeal are living with a disability. In many cases the uncertainty and stress of financial insecurity makes their medical conditions worse.

Will the minister commit to eliminate the backlog and finally give these Canadians the justice they need and deserve?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker. That is, in part, why we have legislation before the House in the budget implementation act, which we hope the NDP will support, which would allow us to hire up to an additional 22 decision makers at the tribunal.

I am very pleased to highlight that the faster informal reconsideration process for refused EI applications would mean a 90% reduction in the caseload for EI, which would mean that we could reallocate those decision makers over to the income security division, which would mean that we would get at that backlog of cases so that we could provide the kind of service that Canadians expect and deserve.

Latest information on the Social Security Tribunal backlog

Shameful backlog of cases at Social Security Tribunal


This is a publication that was sent to me today using Google Alerts.  It speaks to the current back log at the Social Security Tribunal.

It says in the article that the tribunal has a back log of 14,677 cases.  It is not stated how many of these are income security cases which are Canada Pension Plan disability appeals, but it does note that the majority of the back log are these types of appeals.

It says at current staffing it will take 11 years to clear the backlog, and if the tribunal doubles the staffing it will take 5.5 years to clear the back log.  I know there was a recent news article which stated that Minister Kenny had agreed to a change in the regulation to increase the number of tribunal members. 

So for those of you who have been denied on intital application and are in the reconsideration process, please make sure that you get some help to case-manage your appeal.  If you are denied the reconsideration, you are going to be facing indeterminable delays to have your appeal heard.

If you are just stating out applying for CPP disability, it is also a good idea to get some help with the preparation of this application. You have two opportunities to convince the adjudicators that you meet the requirements for disability, therefore I would use these opportunities to the best of my ability.

Electronic record management difficulties at the Social Security Tribunal

For months now, I have been submitting electronic versions of the SST Notice of Appeal, Authorizations, and additional documents to the Social Security Tribunal. This is the recommended method of submission that the Social Security Tribunal has requested on their weibsite and is supposed to be efficient and timely in the management of documentation.


I have discovered that over the last several months (at least six) that documents, notice of appeals. authorizations, and various other items electronically submitted in some cases (I do not know how many) have been fire-walled out by the government's computer system sending it to "quanrantine" and that the SST have not been advised that there are emails waiting for them and after 30 days the documents are deleted.

I had discovered this issue, when I had contacted the SST in follow up as I had not heard on a specific appeal acknowledgment.  As it had been many months I was concerned.  I had assumed that due to backlogs that this was the reason for the delay but on a hunch I decided to follow up.  The appeal was sent electronically as per the preferred method of submission by the SST.  I scanned and emailed the documents, I received a confirmation email from the SST that my documents had been received.  I keep a hard copy of the submissions, along with the confirmation emails, each time that I do this transaction.

When I heard back on my enquiry I was asked to submit documentation so the SST could check their records.  I then received a call stating that my Notice of Appeal document had been sent to quarantine and deleted after 30 days.

Okay so you can imagine my complete and utter disbelief that I have been relying on this system of electronic submission for months and now I am told whoops we have a bugaboo.

Now I have no idea how many appeals have been registered - how many documents were received, what has been lost, what the hell the is going on - what a veritable nightmare.

Thankfully I have paper documents and copies of any thing that I have submitted as well as electronic receipts from the SST - please note however, that I have been advised that I would receive an electronic receipt even if the email went to quarantine. 

I have not said anything about this because I felt that SST should have a chance to remedy this situation - however, this week another two of my appeals have appeared to have been sent to quarantine and deleted.

There has to be a better freaking system that this - this is not working.

Now for those out there who have made an appeal electronically on their own or sent additional documents electronically please do not rely on the electronic confirmation and check in with the SST that your documents have been received.  As well, make sure everytime you communicate with the SST electronically that you SAVE all the communications of any type.

A mess to be sure.


The issue with CPP disability contributions


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.


Thank you to the Former Member of the Social Security Tribunal


This is a very interesting article from a former Social Security Tribunal member.  I had said some time ago that the disbandment of the previous Review Tribunal and the Pension Appeals Board reflected a huge brain drain of experienced tribunal members who completely understood the legislative tenants of Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.  I do not know who this ex-tribunal member is - but I would like to extend my appreciation for speaking out and that doing so was a very honourable thing to do.  Thank you.

In recent documents reviewed by this office, it indicated the level of training the new Social Security Tribunal members received upon appointment with most of them receiving only ten days of training. I find this very disappointing.  These are complex cases with detailed medical evidence to review and assimulate with the rules.  

Okay this is now at least ten or more news articles about the Social Security Tribunal - and I have been privy to all of the documentation that has been collected in order to support these stories.  It is real and really happening.

This week I attended a Social Security Tribunal - client appeal number was 116XXX.  The appeal was heard before a prior Review Tribunal member and I thought it went well.  It was an in-person hearing.  The tribunal member was very prepared and did a good job running the hearing.  Interestingly, this tribunal member was a prior member of the old appeal system and had the level of experience to run the hearing (just my opinion given my experience).



CPP Social Security Tribunal recent news


Here is a link to a recent article about the Social Security Tribunal. 

I am receiving appeal scheduling from the Social Security Tribunal for Review Tribunal legacy cases numbered 119XXX  remember that the legacy cases that came over from the Review Tribunal are numbered up to 125XXX

These cases that have been scheduled applied to Canada Pension Plan disability in 2011 and to the Review Tribunal in early 2012.  So if you are a legacy case waiting to be heard you are likely to be waiting until 2015 now.

Also the Tribunal are scheduling legacy cases - if you applied to the Social Security Tribunal in April 2013 and after that you will be waiting a very long time.

A note of appreciation for Canada Pension Plan adjudicators

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.