Jun 06, 2013

Under the new Bill C-38, CPP Reviews are heard by the newly established Social Security Tribunal. If you have been denied Disability Benefits, as of April 1st, 2013, your case will be heard by this new Tribunal, rather than through the old process of appeals. There are important implications for this change.

The changes with the new Bill become critical, as, if your case is dismissed by the Social Security Tribunal, as a summary dismissal, you are denied the right to appeal to the General Division. This summary dismissal can take place without a hearing, if the SST determines that your case 'has no reasonable chance of success'.

Thus, your preparation for the initial review will be extremely important. There are some steps you can take that will increase your chances of success under the new Bill. Remember, it is your responsibility to prove that you are eligible for CPP benefits.

  1. Determine if you qualify for benefits under the law. There are two requirements for this. You must have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan for a minimum number of years. Refer to the Minimum qualifying period information here. The second requirement is that you must have a severe and prolonged disability as it is defined by the CPP legislation.
  2. Decide if you are going to represent yourself or if you will have a lawyer represent you in the hearing. Having a lawyer represent you may offer you a better outcome from the process. If you will have representation there is a form called the Authorisation to Disclose and it is sent to you with your hearing package. You will need to retain the services of a lawyer and submit this form permitting them to discuss your case with the relevant government agencies.
  3. Ensure that all your paperwork is complete prior to your hearing. Ensure that medical reports and paperwork are properly and completely filled out. Even if you are representing yourself, it is worthwhile to have a lawyer check your paperwork prior to your hearing.
  4. Do a trial run of your hearing with your lawyer in advance of the actual hearing. Your lawyer will know what is required of you and by running through it prior to the hearing, you will know when and how you will be expected to participate.
  5. Proof of Disability. You must have proof of disability that commenced before your minimum qualifying period.
    • A severe disability is defined as one which renders a person incapable of regularly pursuing any substantially gainful occupation as a result of a mental or physical condition.
    • A "prolonged" disability is one which is continuous or of indefinite duration, or likely to result in death.
    • Be prepared to provide proof of both of these conditions at the time of your application and to the Tribunal.
    • Have records of upcoming medical appointments and actual medical test results that provide proof of your disability.
  6. Define any other factors which may affect your appeal outcome.
    • Provide proof that you have made a reasonable effort to seek employment or retraining.
    • Provide proof that you have made a reasonable effort to follow-up on treatments for your condition and that you have complied with the medical advice your doctors have given to you.
    • Age, education and language skills can also affect your ability to "pursue gainful employment". Your lawyer will help to determine any other factors of your case that need to be highlighted in the hearing.
  7. When you go to the hearing, if you are representing yourself, ensure that you have all of your required forms and proof. Arrive on-time and dress appropriately. The hearing will take approximately one hour and this hour may determine the outcome of your claim.
  8. The Tribunal will consider the 'whole person' when deciding your appeal, so be prepared to provide information about your case and how it affects you in the workplace and everyday life.

The new Tribunal may be heard through teleconference, written questions or in person. Being properly prepared with detailed notes and extensive medical reports to prove your disability can be a major factor in whether or not you are granted benefits going forward or if your appeal will be dismissed. If the Tribunal determines that your case has "no chance of success", it can be dismissed without a hearing.

The best advice is to ensure that you are prepared and seek the help of a professional who can increase your chances of success in the hearing.


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