NDP news release

2014 06 13

Conservative Social Security mismanagement leaves thousands scrambling

The Conservatives have grossly mismanaged the transition to the new Social Security Tribunal, leaving thousands of Canadians waiting months—without income—before eventually receiving a hearing.

“The Conservatives took an appeal system that was working and completely broke it,” said Jinny Sims (Newton–North Delta), NDP critic for Employment and Social Development. “They had more than a year to prepare for this transition, yet Conservative mismanagement means we’ve ended up with a Tribunal that isn’t fully staffed and has hardly held any hearings.”

Statistics released today reveal that the Income Security Section heard only 178 appeals in its first year. At this pace, it will take 9.5 years to hear all current income security appeals—without taking into account any new appeals.

“There are more than 9,000 Canadians waiting for a CPP or OAS hearing,” added Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert), NDP deputy critic for Employment and Social Development. “These are disabled Canadians and seniors who have little or no income and need to pay bills and buy groceries. They can’t wait years for this government to get its act together.”

And the questions:

   Mme Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NPD): Monsieur le Président, des milliers de Canadiens n'ont pas accès aux prestations d'invalidité en raison de la mauvaise gestion des conservateurs. Certaines personnes attendent depuis plus d'un an d'être entendues par le Tribunal de la sécurité sociale en raison du manque de juges-arbitres.

 

    Au rythme où vont les choses, même si le tribunal n'avait aucun nouveau dossier à traiter, ça prendrait neuf ans avant que la machine ne reprenne le dessus et c'est inacceptable.

 

    Le ministre trouve-t-il normal que des gens décèdent avant d'avoir accès aux prestations auxquelles ils ont droit?

 

Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Social Security Tribunal started its operations on April 1, 2013 and received higher than anticipated caseloads from the legacy tribunals. These income security legacy cases are all deemed ready to proceed as of April 1, 2014, according to the regulations. The SST is giving top priority to these legacy cases.

 

Mme Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NPD): Monsieur le Président, la section de la sécurité du revenu ne compte que 35 juges-arbitres et elle doit faire face à un retard accumulé de 3 700 dossiers. En éliminant le recours aux 1 000 juges-arbitres à temps partiel, le gouvernement conservateur a amplifié la crise. Les plus démunis sont, encore une fois, les premières victimes de la négligence et de l'incurie de ce gouvernement.

 

    Quelles mesures d'urgence le gouvernement entend-il prendre pour faire face aux méga-cafouillage que l'on connaît au Tribunal de la sécurité sociale?

 

Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Social Security Tribunal is dealing with these legacy cases that were left over from previous tribunals. We have taken steps to make sure that we are aligned in this process from coast to coast to coast so we can have consistency in the decisions that are made.

 

   Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are turning their backs on disabled Canadians across the country and gutting services that people rely on. Thousands of Canadians who have been denied disability benefits are still waiting for a hearing. As of last April, there were 1,000 fewer referees hearing appeals. The tribunal now has a backlog of 10,000 cases, and only managed to hear 348 appeals last year.

 

    It is a great example of the Conservatives breaking something that did not need fixing. Why did the Conservatives create a tribunal that is designed to fail?

 

Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am not sure. We fixed a problem because we wanted to make sure that there was consistency among decisions from coast to coast to coast. Now, with the new Social Security Tribunal, we do have a case of backlogs that were left from the previous legacy tribunals. These are being cleared. As of April 1, 2014, these cases are now being heard. We are going to clear up the backlog.

 

Mme Isabelle Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, NPD): Monsieur le Président, ce n'est pas vrai que le problème est réglé, Quand c'est le temps de piger dans nos poches, les conservateurs trouvent ça bien facile, mais, quand c'est le temps de verser aux citoyens les prestations qui leur reviennent, ça devient compliqué. Pensons seulement aux difficultés pour accéder au Supplément de revenu garanti ou aux crédits d'impôt pour personnes handicapées. Ce sont toujours les plus démunis qui sont les premières victimes du gouvernement conservateur. Que va faire le gouvernement pour redresser la situation au Tribunal de la sécurité sociale et pour s'assurer que ceux qui ont cotisé au régime de pension accèdent aux prestations d'invalidité auxquels ils ont droit?

 

Mr. Scott Armstrong (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the SST and the government are committed to providing fair, credible and impartial appeal processes in a timely manner to those people who apply. The SST is an independent administrative tribunal. It operates at arm's length from the department.

 

    The department and the SST are now putting these legacy cases at the top of the priority list. We are going to clear up that backlog.

 

Thousands awaiting appeals before Social Security Tribunal

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/thousands-awaiting-appeals-before-social-security-tribunal/article19150798/

 

Thank you to Gloria Galloway of the Globe and Mail for taking the time to listen, investigate, and write this story.  This illustrates the unjustifiable position thousands of people who are waiting for CPP Disability appeals are in.

Please share this story with your networks.  Please write Letters to the Editors putting forward your thoughts.  Please email this story to your MPs.  Please contact your local newspapers and talk-back radio shows.


It is an absolute disgrace that 10, 000 people in Canada who have paid in to Canada Pension Plan have had this new appeals system foisted on them - which we were told would be more efficient and transperant, and easier for clients to manage. 

 

 

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).