How long are you going to wait for a hearing at the Social Security Tribunal?

This is the question I am asked daily. 

I can provide you with the following information.  The Tribunal are currently working on the oldest "legacy" cases that have come over from the old Review Tribunal.  These are appeals numbered in the 113's and 114's - the last legacy cases were numbered in the 125's.  If you are an appeal that was received by the tribunal in 2013 or 2014,  all of the "legacy appeals" are going to be heard first.  If you can demonstrate a reason why your appeal should be heard on an emergant basis - if you have a terminal illness maybe then maybe your appeal will be heard sooner.  If you have financial hardship, you will have to demonstrate this - and it is likely that most of the appellants are in financial hardship.

The Tribunal will be tackling the oldest cases first and these appellants in the 113's and 114's likely applied for Canada Pension Plan disability in 2009 - 2010. 

It is going to take some time for these files to make their way to appeal as they have 90 days when a Tribunal Member gets the file and schedules a hearing, to ensure that all documents are received - so this means any files assigned to a Member in June may not have hearings until September or October.  It is my understanding that the Tribunal will have to handle these appeals in  "chunks at at time" so they are manageable for the Tribunal Members.

So if you have a legacy appeal you can imagine if you are in the 120-125 you are going to be waiting a very long time.

One hope is that Canada Pension Plan agrees to settle the case so that an appeal is not necessary, however, all information still has to go through the Social Security Tribunal as this is where the file is currently managed.  So if you have an appeal that is a legacy case- or any case for that matter - it is very important to make sure that you appeal is prepared and all information is submitted - perhaps the Feds will conceed.

I also wonder if it might be smart to withdraw your appeal and reapply to CPP disability as it may not take as long to have your application adjudicated - but then you have to consider that you will lose all of your arrears payments - plus there is the 62 percent denial rate - plus there is no guarantee that your new application would be allowed and then you are back where you started.  It is an very hard decision to make.

Now I have mentioned the denial rates at CPP disability - so it is more important than ever that you put together a complete application - that you do not leave this to chance - that you get help with this.  If you are denied and need to get a reconsideration - then you are plain out foolish to try and do this alone - especially given the situation I have described.

 

 

 

Requesting a Ministerial Enquiry

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseofCommons/MemberByPostalCode.aspx?Menu=HOC

 

This link will help you identify your Member of Parliament using your postal code.

Clients have been asking what they can do in order to find out answers regarding their appeals.  My suggestion is that you contact your Member of Parliament and ask them to do a Ministerial Enquiry concerning the delays on your file.

I would email or write them using this format:

 

The Honourable (Name of MP)

Member of Parliament (riding/constituency)

Consituency office address

 

Date


Dear MP,

 

My name is (add full name ) I am writing as one of your constituents since (date of residence) and would like to seek your assistance.

I have been denied Canada Pension Plan disability benefits and I am currently waiting for an appeal at the Social Security Tribunal.  I have been waiting for an appeal to be heard since (add date).

Despite sendng in numerous medical reports and submissions outlining my reasons for qualify under the Canada Pension Plan disabiity legislation, I have yet to have my appeal heard, nor have I received information indicating that the documents I have submitted have been received.  I am unable to get information from the Social Security Tribunal and my requests for information have gone unanswered.

As a result of this I am unable to afford my medication, and I an under extreme financial hardship.

My file number is (Social Insurance Number)

My Date of Birth is:

I seek your assistance in this matter and I am requesting your office submit a Ministerial Enquiry.  I understand that your office is able to contact Employment and Social Development Canada on my behalf to determine the status of my appeal.  It is my understand that the Social Security Tribunal have significant delays and I ask for an explanation from Minister Kenney as to how these backlogs are going to be managed?  I am asking for a time line so I may know when my appeal will be heard.

Please feel free to contact me should you need any more details or information.

Yours truly,

 

Name

Address

Telephone Number

 

The Minister responsible for Canada Pension Plan and the Social Security Tribunal is:

The Honourable Jason Kenney

House of Commons

Ottawa, On

K1A 0A6

 

jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca

 

Phone:  1-613-992-2235

Fax:  1-613-992-1920

 

 

 

 

No Answers from the Social Security Tribunal

Today I have had numerous phone calls from clients asking me when they will get an appeal at the Social Security Tribunal.  These people are unable to afford the medication they need, as well as the medical equipment reuired because of their disabilities.  I have sent in numerous submissions to the Social Security Tribunal that have not been acknowledged - and I have no idea whether the information is even being sent to Canada Pension Plan.

I have client submissions that have been sent from CPP disability - stupid denials - stupid because they clearly ignore the information that has been submitted to them - and they continue to maintain the denial despite numerous medical reports supporting disability - this forces the clients to have to rebutt their position and then they are not told for months at a time what the response is to their rebuttal.

Canada Pension Plan Disability should adopt the motto - DENY, DELAY, DEFEND.........  seems appropriate.

The tactic appears to be to deny appeals despite medical support, to delay the response to the clients so they starve them on to provincial disability if they qualify (and in to bankruptcy many times). and to defend their position with ridiculous submissions forcing clients to continue to respond and send in paper work straining their relationships with their doctors when they throw up their hands and say they do not know want to do - the continual denials cost the health care system and many of these clients have no money to get the medical information they need - so the big Federal government wins again when the little guy throws up his hands and cries Uncle.

Please people get help - you do not want to be stuck appealing to the Social Security Tribunal as the delays are unimaginable.  Do not give up - make sure you do what you can to submit information at the initial application and for sure the reconsideration.

To the CPP Adjudicator who told me "that we need people like you" I appreciate it - seems this staff member understands the CPP disability motto.

Arrgh Frustrated.

Social Security Tribunal statistics

Hello everyone - it has been some time since I have submitted a blog entry - I have been out of the country visiting my family.

In a prior blog entry I talked about some information I received about the Social Security Tribunal and included in this information was the fact that the Tribunal had held 178 appeals the rest of the appeals appear to be either summary dismissals or CPP Disability settlements.

I wanted to dig a little deeper in to these appeals and these are the results that I have obtained:

  • There were 82 appeals heard by teleconference and out of the 82 appeals that were heard 20 were allowed and 50 were dismissed there are 12 cases for which a decision had not been rendered.
  • There were 26 appeals held by videoconference and of the 26 appeals that were heard 10 were allowed and 16 were dismissed.
  • Finally, the Social Security Tribunal summarily dismissed 65 appeals.

 

Not great statistics - with a heavy denial rate I would say. I am worried about the teleconference statistics - that result seems very skewed - as it stands a 25% approval rate.

It seems that this tribunal is denying more appeals than it is approving. HMMMMM

I also think given these statistics that it is not a good idea to have a hearing by teleconference - which speaks to my previous blog entries about the requirements for in-person hearings.  I also wonder whether these clients have rushed to get hearings thinking that they would get the matter settled without really understanding the implications of the CPP legislative tenants, nor their requirements in order to suppot their appeals.

Okay, I am getting a lot of calls from frustrated clients regarding the delays in getting appeals - I understand completely.  My case - the man who has lung cancer that I asked for an expediated appeal - and was told by Senior Management at the SST had been placed before a Member and granted - I still have not received any document on that -  I first sent my request asking for an urgent appeal on March 27th, I had a converstation with senior management the end of April, and I sent another email on May 2nd, 2014 - I still have not received any notification and it is now May 27 - so that is two months since I sent in the request for an urgent appeal.  What a pathetic response from this tribunal to a man who has lung cancer. 

Finally it appears that you need to win the hearing lottery to actually get one.  It is administrative justice hijacking by this federal government.  I cannot think of any other words to describe this process and the disservice happening to people with disabilities entitled to a benefit to which they contributed CPP payments throughout their working careers.

I am now going to contact outside sources to see if they can shed some light on to this disgrace.

I just need to get back on to Canada time.

Also, please if you have been denied CPP disability at initial (62% of you will receive denials) get help with the reconsideration appeals as if you are denied you will be facing long delays.  I still have not got appeals for clients who applied to the Review Tribunal in March 2012 - that is 24 months of waiting.

If you have been denied get help - I cannot stress this enough.

 

 

Another Email to the SST - another case - let's call him Ned

Hello.  I am emailing about Mr. ____________ _______________.

 

I received a copy of the submission written by the Department on January 8, 2014. This was not communicated to my office until April 12th, 2014.  Why did this document take so long to be received?

Further on October 17. 2013 I sent a package of medical information to the SST for this client - the department does not refer to any of this information that I have sent in - which will lead me to believe that they have not received this from the SST.

I would like to know what has occurred on this file - it is a legacy case that is waiting to be heard - the client is going through consumer proposal proceedings and have no income to support himself and his wife.

Again I am requesting urgent consideration on this file for an immediate hearing for this gentleman.  He applied for CPPD  - April 2011 - it is now three years without any resolution.  This gentleman is now taking medication to help with the significant stress he and his wife are enduring.

 

This delay is unacceptable.  Allison Schmidt

 

 

When will you get an appeal at the Social Security Tribunal?

Everyday I am inundated with emails and phone calls from individuals, doctors, and insurance companies asking when their appeals will be heard at the Social Security Tribunal.  Each day the emails and calls become more desperate.  At first I was able to explain the process that happened at the changeover and was able to advise these people, that the delays were due to a transition year at the Social Security Tribunal.

Now a full year has past and still there is no end in sight in terms of the wait  - and in fact the back logs and delays are getting worse.

Every day I feel the pressure of these individuals who are waiting - and I understand the difficulties they are facing and how their needs are not being met.

I am asked what the client can do - when they phone the Social Security Tribunal they are given no answers as to when they can expect their appeals will be heard - and when I email or call I also receive the same song and dance.

My only suggestion is to go to your Member of Parliament - and advise them that you wish to obtain a Ministerial Enquiry in to the appeal delay.  A Ministerial Enquiry is required to be addressed when it is submitted.  A Ministerial Enquiry is made by an Member of Parliament and submitted to the Minister responsible for the Social Security Tribunal which falls under the Employment Social Development Services and the Minister is Jason Kenney.  I would say to your Member of Parliament that the delays have been unacceptable and that you wish to be advised to the status of your appeal.

It is my hope that with enough Ministerial Enquiries landing on the Minister's desk that perhaps they will become aware that this process is not serving the appellants as it was promised it would.

 

 

SST response to my Urgent Request

On March 27th, 2014 I sent a letter to the Social Security Tribunal requesting that a client's appeal be heard in an urgent manner.

This client has been waiting at the SST since April 2013 and he is not a legacy case - meaning - his appeal has not come over from the Review Tribunal.

This man, let's call him Todd  - is 49 and has not been able to work since his early 40's due to a number of medical conditions.  He has an MQP of 2006 which means he has to be found disabled by this date continually to present. 

Early this year, I sent in a large number of medical reports that I had collected through out the case-management process. From our end, his appeal is all ready to be heard.

In December 2013, Todd was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He is currently going through treatments to see if they can shrink the tumour enough to do surgery.  Todd's wife, is under enormous pressure of course, and they family are financially exhausted, especially when you take in to consideration the additional costs of a life-threatening illness. 

In discussing this situation with Todd's wife, I suggested we contact the Social Security Tribunal to see if we can get an expediated hearing - the cancer diagnosis is not going to impact the 2006 MQP, but I feel strongly that Todd has met his onus to establish disability.  When I sent the letter asking this request, I also sent in medical confirmation of Todd's diagnosis, so the Social Security Tribunal have the evidence to support my request.

I had not heard anything from the Social Security Tribunal - other than an acknowledgment stating that my request had been received - and that they would consider it.

It has been 26 days since I sent in the urgent request.  I emailed to find out the status - and this is the response that I received:

"We did receive your request and it is currently being reviewed.  As soon as we have information , we will communicate it to you.

After that I emailed that I had assumed that the request was received but that I would like to know what is going on with the request.  I also asked if there was a time line so that I could advise the faimly and that it had been over three weeks and it is a very stressful time for the family and that I would like to be able to tell them something.  This is what I received in response:

"Unfortunately, I do not have a timeline.  That the information was being reviewed and as soon as we have information, it will be communicated."

They may as well told me to go jump off a cliff.

As well, I have had no response to my email to Madam Chair.

I also read on the weekend that the level of service of the government has been reduced to those that were existing in the 60s.  I cannot understand how regular Canadians are not up in arms.  Is it like Pavlov's dogs and just learned helplessness - that everyone feels that they cannot do anything - these people are so beaten down by this process - I see how they struggle. 

But to not be able to have an appeal for a man who is in the middle of treatment for lung cancer who is going through a hell of a time, whose wife is trying to hold it all together, and for me to be told and then have to communicate to the family that - "information will be communicated when its available" and that there are no time lines for an answer - again Madam Chair how is that FAIR, ACCESSIBLE, AND EXPEDIENT?

Stressed and sad.

Freedom Of Information request reveals .......

On February 27, 2014 I requested information under the Freedom of Information Act regarding the Social Security Tribunal appeal statistics. 

9027 Income Security Appeals are waiting to be heard (these are CPP appeals)

The SST heard 21 CPP appeals in 2013 and 155 appeals in 2014 in the General Division.

The SST heard 38 CPP appeals in 2013 and 40 appeals in 2014 in the Appeals Division.

As of February 2014 a total of 2,802 appeals were received at the Income Security Division of the SST which includes CPP and OAS appeals.

There are 292 Income Security Appeals waiting to be heard at the Appeal Division of the SST.

67 Appeals were heard in person, 82 appeals were by teleconference, 26 were by videoconference, 3 were by way of question and answers.

There were 592 appeals allowed and 134 appeals dismissed at the General Division (interesting because the SST only heard 176 appeals so most of these were CPP driven).

 

 

A letter to the Social Security Tribunal

 

Dear Madam Chair.

 

I was recently privy to a teleconference with the Vice Chair as well as Mr. M. ___________.  I had asked when I could expect that appeals would begin to be heard given the excessive delays that my clients are experiencing. Mr. M.  _________ told me I should  write a letter - so that is what I am doing.

 

I have a large number of files waiting to be heard at the Social Security Tribunal.  I understand there is a 7000 appeal backlog at changeover - along with an additional 2500 appeals added this last year - and that only 800 appeals were heard.  This leads me to believe there is around a 9000 appeal backlog waiting to be heard - and my last review of the GIC appointments to the SST indicates only 26 members hearing these appeals.


I am getting phone calls every day - emails every day - desperate people calling me asking me when they can expect their hearings.

 

These people are using their retirement savings, some are dying,  many are declaring bankruptcy, people are going without treatment and medication, children are suffering, and good working people are being forced to swallow their pride and apply for welfare.

 

I do not know what to tell these clients - I do not get any answers from the SST - and when I ask what the strategy is for hearing these backlogs - I am told that they are trying to get the backlog managed - and that I should write a letter.

 

Madam Chair all I want to know is - is there a strategy in place for hearing these appeals?  I want to know what kind of time line I can tell the clients? 

 

I feel that this Tribunal is not following their mandate that you wrote in your introductory message.  It is not fair.  It is not efficient.  It is not accessible.

 

I noted in your last email to me you mentioned reaching out to stakeholders.  I have not received any contact - in fact my last email to you was answered by ____________.  You may see my emails as an annoyance but I am dealing with folk who are desperate for answers.  How can this tribunal put this kind of responsibility to manage this desperation on to advocates like myself?  It must be very nice to be so insular and not have to deal with the realities these clients are facing as this is what I hear from them every day.

 

I am sorry if you find my tone harsh as it is not my intention to offend but to point out the realities of the situation I am dealing with every day.

 

Thank you for your time.

 

Allison Schmidt

DCAC Inc.

 

 

 

Downward Spiral

Today I have had six phone calls from clients wanting to know when their appeals will be heard.  I have had another 5 emails asking why the department has not responded to any of the additional information that we have submitted.

In the mail I received more stupid denials from CPP disability (review my previous blogs).

I am waiting for files from CPP so that I can help clients manage their appeals - I am not receiving them in a timely fashion and the Feds are denying before the client has any time to submit additional documents.

I just feel this is a downward spiral - it is almost like the government wants to deny these claims knowing full well that the wait for an appeal is so long - that these people are either bankrupt and then they have no choice but to go on welfare.

This system is causing individuals to go without treatment - making them sicker - forcing them in to seperation or divorce - either due to depression or stress - or so that they can obtain some kind of provincial disability support.  There are kids that are suffering because of this  - and these people have paid in to the program - why is it so hard for them to get something they are entitled to receive - if the money is not there to pay the folk - then where is it?  No insurance company would ever get away with this type of practice. They hold them accountable - they have appeal processes that allow for redress if there is an error.  That is supposed to be what is available for individuals who are denied CPP - so why are they not getting the appeals - how is a three year process to get an appeal acceptable?

I have sent emails to the Information Line and received no information in fact I have not received a response and when I do get a response the file is pending.  The Social Security Tribunal is so insular that I cannot even talk to a live person - or any person for that matter - to find out more details - and when they give us conference calls - we are told snottily to write a letter - I cannot tell you how many letters I have written.  Perhaps I should start posting them all on this blog. 

Look it really is not that hard - start hearing cases - start moving the backlog - start hiring members - rehire the Review Tribunal members - do something.  How are 9000 appeals going to be heard by 26 members?  How is that fair, accessible, or efficient?

I feel like I am airing dirty laundry but I just have no other release or way to let any one know what is happening here in this office every single day.

I really think it is a disgrace - the gentleman who phoned me today working and paid in to CPP from 1971 until 2010 - that is 39 years of contributions.  He is 61 years of age.  He has never taken a nickle in EI benefits.  He first applied in July 2011.  Despite sending in so much supportive medical information - we still have not even had this acknowledged - either by the Social Security Tribunal or Canada Pension Plan.  He is just sitting waiting for a decision or appeal that never seems to occur.

Please get help with your CPP Application or if you are denied your appeal for Reconsideration.