Social Security Tribunal - Some answers please?

The Globe and Mail story has been shared 1390 times since it appeared online at 9.00pm last night.

I would like to make the following comments on the article:

Mr. Sapp's comments stating that he could not have made fair decisions without meeting claimant face to face clearly illustrates why the Canada Pension Plan Act had previously allowed for in-person hearings. A client has already been denied two times by the Canada Pension Plan adjudicators before they had the opportunity to appear before an adjudication body in person.  According to statistics obtained from the Ministry - the prior appeal system overturned 59.96% of the CPP denials in 2005, 58.67% of the denials in 2006, 57.99% of the decisions in 2007, 52.04% of the denials in 2008, 53.75% of the denials in 2009, 52.24% in 2010, and 49.44% of the appeals in 2011 -2012.

You can see how these figures highlight that according to the arm-lengths appeal body - the CPP disability adjudicators had the decision wrong 50% of the time.  This number also does not take in to account, the individuals who gave up because they thought their appeals would go nowhere, as well as those who believed that the government must have made the right decision.  Further, these statistics do not illustrate how many of the 50% that were denied at the Review Tribunal appealed to the Pension Appeals Board and had the denial reversed.

The article also mentions that there was a backlog of around 10,000 appeals.  As I indicated in a prior blog entry, the Social Security Tribunal have already accumulated another 2000 appeals this year already - so does this mean we are now around 12,000 backlogged appeals.

Dominique Forget's comments leave much to be desired.  There is no explanation about the reasoning behind the decision to make a decision based only on the written documents - she says it is for "flexibility and efficiency" - perhaps the SST have been instructed to move the files - and this is their answer?  Again my thoughts have always been that it is really easy to "rubber stamp" a denial on a while when you do not get to meet the Appellant and hear their subjective experiences.  Mr. Sapp had that right.  The Director of the SST notes that they are "trying to move files as quick as they can."  Move the files where?  In to another level of appeal - in to the courts when Appellants say they have been denied the right to have their cases heard?  Up to the Supreme Court of  Canada  like Mr. Villanin (for those who do not know, Mr. Villani changed the landscape for Appellants). 

How about the Director of the Social Security Tribunal contact the bureacrats and tell them that their dismantling of the prior appeal system without obviously any regard to the consequences is not working to well and that they should rethink what they have done here.

It would not be so worrisome if an Appellant was told that the Social Security Tribunal member felt on the documents provided that their decision would be to grant and appeal and bounce it back to the Minister for their submissions. But these clients have no idea what is going to happen and this is too important a matter to be left to the unilateral decision of a Tribunal Member to decide.  The converse could also work.  If a Tribunal Member advised that they were leaning towards a denial and wrote their reasons why they felt that way, then the Appellant would have an opportunity to sway them or to present more information - or at least have the opportunity to be HEARD - that is what I think these people at the Social Security Tribunal do not understand - the Appellants want to be HEARD and most of them have waited years for this opportunity.

I think the Director's comments about the Tribunal not keep statistics to show the relative success of appellant who are able to present their case in person versus those who are not is a bit of baloney.  In February this year, I received information from the Freedom of Information office which gave me these numbers - they are posted on the blog.  So what has happened in the last three months - all of a sudden the Social Security Tribunal are not keeping records?

The totality of the comments that I submitted to the Globe and Mail are as follows:

"It appears that the way the Social Security Tribunal is going to manage the enourmous accumulation of backlogged appeals is to unilaterally deny Canadians the right to be heard in an in-person hearing.  It is not the function of the Tribunal to "rubber stamp" only medical opinions.  The CPP disability adjudicaton process must include a review of the totality of the written information, as well as the subjective experiences of the Appellant.  This can only be achieved by holding an in-person hearing.  By denying this right to this type of appeal, the Federal Government has found another way to tile the playing field in their favour."

The rules of natural justice say that you are entilted to a hearing if their is some value in having it says Mr. Fink.  The value in having a hearing is clear.  The Tribunal should not be denying the right to in-person appeals. 

Please keep sharing this article.



SST decision on the basis of the documents

The last two files I have received from the Social Security Tribunal I have been advised that the Tribunal Member intends to make a decision on the appeal on the basis of the documents and submissions filed for the following reason:

"The Tribunal Member decided that no further hearing was required, as each party had been given a meaningful opportunity to present its case; and no further information was required to make a decision."


What about the evidence of the Appellant?  What about the evidence of the family? What about the opportunity to present all sides of the appeal and not what is just on paper?  What about the Appellant's right to a hearing? This man has been waiting to have his appeal HEARD since September 2011.

So the Member decided that each party had been given a meaningful opportunity to present its case?  Well all we have been able to do is submit paper - medical reports, submissions, etc.  And that no further information wes required to make a decision?  How so??  Why?? It does not say - that based on the documents filed that the Member feels confident that the appeal should be allowed and that the client has made his case - that would be completely different - then one would know that you had a last kick at the can to convince the Member differently - but there is no indication of that - so you just trust that the Tribunal Member is confident in the decision. 


There is prior case law on file (Martin v MHRD CP14001) which states that "There have been cases in which evidence tendered by the Applicant and his or her supporting witnesses was not only highly credible, but also equally highly persausive, which called upon by the Board to exercise its judicial capacity and function, thereby refusing to abdicate its decision-making role to the medical profession."

And Chase v MHRD CP 6540 "While objective medical evidence is helpful and greatly assists the Board in its determination of disability, the CPP does not make a finding of disability conditional on "objective evidence."  The appellant usually gives oral testimony at the hearing.  The subjective experiences of the applicant in regard to the pathology with resulting consequences on his or her ability to engage in regularly substantially gainful occupation, are important considerations."

And Di Caro v MHRD (CP 4068)  " It is important for the applicant to attend and testify at the hearing so that a PROPER assessment of his or her claim can be made.  This is particularly true of chronic pain claims, even where none of the treating physicians expressed doubt as to the genuiness of the complaints.  Failure to testify in person, UNLESS adequately explained, will weigh heavily in the balance against the genuineness of the claim."

And Morley v MEI (CP 3296) "It is not the function of the Board to "rubber stamp" medical opinions, and they must be weighed against oral testimony."

And Petti v MHRD CP 4855 "The oral testimony of the applicant can be, and very often is MATERIAL to the resolution of the matter.  If deemed credible, it is entitled to DUE WEIGHT and SERIOUS CONSIDERATION."

I could go on and on quoting previous decisions of the Pension Appeals Board which form jurisprudence over years and years of hearings.


I then sent and email to the Manager whose name is signed to the letter.  This is a new development and I am not sure what recourse the client has to dispute this Tribunal Member's decision.  She forwarded my email to the general information email.  This is a specialized question and I am forwarded to the a general information line - I am going to email the Commissioner - maybe she will give me the answer I need as I am not getting a response to many of the emails I send to the information line.  This client has until July 30 to submit documents so that means I am going to waste days trying to get an answer to questions from the SST.

By the way the email that I received in response from the Manager says "FYA" which I believe stands for  F**K YOU ALLISON a freudian slip perhaps for FYI?

Is this a way that the SST to expedite the appeals and to reduce the back logs? 

For those of you who receive a letter like this from the Social Security Tribunal - please make sure that you have got someone to help you put together your file - make sure that you have written submissions about why you meet the CPP disability criteria - if you are unable to do this alone -please make sure you get help.  Remember these appeals are really in my opinion - your one kick at the can - in terms of being successful - so take it seriously.

My concern is that people who have no idea of the lay of the land, who have mental illness, who are unable to manage the complexity of the appeal, who struggle with literacy - will be unable to manage these kind of situations and again the playing field is tilted on the backs of the most vulnerable.

Look I really hope that this is a good thing - I hope that this means that the Tribunal Member has weighed all the information on file and is convinced they can make a decision - and my hope is that it is positive - but it is really unproven this system - and the figures that have been released concerning the denial rates are not good - so I am hesitant to trust.  As well, there are limited appeal rights so you are relying on an unknown in the hopes that your appeal will be successful.  For a man who has waited since September 2011 to get an appeal I am not sure he should take the risk.

 By the way this is the response I have received on the email I sent:

"You are correct.  You would need to provide a written request with reasons (to change the hearing format). It will be provided to the Tribunal Member for review."

Never in all of the previous appeal systems has a Tribunal Member or Judge for that matter the right to decide that a Appellant would not be granted a hearing.






Using my blog entries

It has come to my attention that my blog entries are being used by third party organizations.

I would like to state unequivically, that I have no association or affliation with these third party organizations who are posting all of my blog entries on their own websites.

These blog entries that are being used, are being used without my permission.

I have requested that my blog entries be removed from these websites - it is my hope that this organization will honour my request immediately.


I post thse entries to help individuals who are in the appeal process who are dealing with a CPP denial and it is my intention to provide this information in the hopes that it can be used in a constructive and positive manner.  If you would like to use these blog entries to help with your appeal, or if you would like to include this information in your organization publications online,  please contact me via email at and I will be pleased to entertain your request.





Service Canada Frustrations

This is the problem with call centres - whether they be Service Canada (?) or the Information Line (?) at the Social Security Tribunal.

I am trying to get information about a client's file - I have all the written consents that I need.

The first agent well all she wanted to do was talk over me, and tell me that I could not be told the information I needed despite having consent - and having called them many many times.  This is not my first rodeo lady.  In the end I asked to be put through to another agent - only to be put back in the line and waiting.......

The secord agent - shout out to Susan - was excellent - and gave me the information I needed right away.  However, she did tell me that they can only spend 6 minutes on each call - and that is why many times they appeared stressed and rushed on the phone.  Six minutes - what the hell - what if you are a senior or a person with a disability who takes time to process information?  I do not get this government - the calls are timed and if they are not within the six minutes they can lose their jobs - that is what I was told today.

As for the Information Line at the SST - a client called yesterday and told me she had waited three days for a call back - and of course she was out at a medical appointment when the call came - but there was no number given so she can find out the information that she needs - so what she has to call back aqnd wait another three days sitting by the phone?  That's just crazy.

So you get no service from Service Canada - you get no information from the Information Line. and a client cannot get an appeal from the Social Security Tribunal.

2015 cannot come soon enough.


Social Security Tribunal appeals received 2014

It is almost the middle of the year and yesterday I received a document which indicated that the appeal number at the Social Secuirty Tribunal for 2014 was appeal 14-20XX

This appears to mean that the Social Security Tribunal have received another 2000 appeals so far this year.

From review of previous statistics obtained under the freedom of information act - there were usually around 3000 appeals received each year by the old Review Tribunal.


I am just wondering how there is going to be any progress made on the delays and backlogged appeals.  At more than 7000 legacy appeals - we can say that represents two years of back logged work - then they will have 2013 appeals backlogged - and then another 2000 received in 2014. 

The math does not add up - and I worry that if there is preassure to move these appeals  - that they are not going to be given the due consideration and time that they should - in order to make the right decision.

I know there have been many people who are writing to their MPs to see if they can get some movement on their appeals - I hope this will help and there is an example of the letter to write on this blog.


Yesterday there was another stupid denial from CPP disability - time to turn the attention on to why the Social Security Tribunal are receiving all these appeals - it is because CPP is denying clients that should not be?





More News to Share CPP Social Security Tribunal


Thank you for all the calls, emails, texts  I appreciate the support.

Thanks to your efforts the Globe and Mail story was shared over 1400 times.

Please keep going - please keep writing the letters to the MPs.


Listen Tomorrow Morning

CBC Radio in Regina 5askatchewan tomorrow at 7.45am as well as daily through the radio news and on the evening television news.

It is 540am for Saskatchewan listeners - and you will be able to hear online streaming at

I am so happy that finally this untolerable situation is starting to come to light.

Please know I have no beef with the staff at the SST - it is the system that the Feds have created that has created these issues.

It is my intention to help the clients who are waiting and who call me in despair daily - I am not out to disparage anyone.


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


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.