CPP Disability Claims Advocacy Clinic
 
 

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More news on the Social Security Tribunal - EI division

by Allison Schmidt 28 August 2014 10:22

I guess it is not just the Income Security division but also the EI division of the General Division of the Social Security Tribunal:

http://www.brantnews.com/news-story/4800959-most-claimants-lose-appeals-over-ei-benefits/

 

A note of appreciation for Canada Pension Plan adjudicators

by Allison Schmidt 28 August 2014 09:52

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.

 

Interesting story

by Allison Schmidt 27 August 2014 13:22

http://www.thealgomanews.ca/news/political/is-cpp-disability-turning-into-a-tax-grab/

 

You have enemies?  Good.  It means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life - Winston Churchill.

 

Talk soon.

Another Newspaper article of the SST

by Allison Schmidt 25 August 2014 11:52

Denied because she is not "prolonged"

by Allison Schmidt 22 August 2014 17:07

http://globalnews.ca/news/1522708/cancer-victim-denied-cpp-disability-insurance/

 

Thank you for speaking out.

 

 

Some more commentary on the Social Security Tribunal

by Allison Schmidt 22 August 2014 12:11

Another article on the Social Security Tribunal.

by Allison Schmidt 21 August 2014 16:18

http://news.google.com/news/url?sr=1&sa=t&ct2=ca%2F0_0_s_2_0_t&usg=AFQjCNGDF5A0bsmios3M05wo9b0kYpm8YA&did=33d65350e1c72008&cid=52778589824792&ei=DnD2U5DrILD98AHs5oCYCw&rt=STORY&vm=STANDARD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.winnipegfreepress.com%2Fcanada%2Fbacklogged-social-security-panel-stops-tracking-results-kenney-oks-more-staff-272165011.html

 

Here is another article written by Lee Anne Goodman of The Canadian Press.  Although the headline reads that the Social Security Tribunal is allowing more appeals - please note that the actual results are these:   Out of the 933 appeals that have been allowed - 775 were reversal of prior denials made by Canada Pension Plan ( in another words CPP disability overturned their decision to deny)  and  ONLY 158 were actual  decisions allowed by the Social Security Tribunal.

Of the 303 denials that were made by the Social Security Tribunal - 107 of these were Summarily Dismissed and 196 were denials as a result of appeals.

According to the documents that I have received under Access to Information - the tribunal held 465 tribunals since the inception.  The documents that state they "do not track" the results are sitting here next to me in my office.

Please people - it is time to speak out.  I know there are so many who call me and email me who are afraid to speak out for fear that it will hurt their appeal - and I understand that - but this has to change.  What has happened to good Canadian people is an absolute disgrace.  How can this government get away with treating hard-working tax paying Canadians like this?  Please speak out and put a face to these numbers.

Today I got an appeal date for a lady.  She does not speak English.  She has been offered a teleconference appeal.  She has been waiting since January 2012.  Really - even with an interpretor how is that fair?

AGAIN I just want to reiterate that I do not have any "beef" with the staff who work at the Social Security Tribunal. They are working hard I know this - and trying to move these deadlines.

 

I wonder what will happen tomorrow?  Stay tuned.

 

CPP Disability Benefit Time Lines

by Allison Schmidt 19 August 2014 11:48

I have had several messages concerning the time lines at Canada Pension Plan.  I am not talking about the horrendus delays at the Social Security Tribunal, but rather the adjudication and processing times at Canada Pension Plan disability. 

These timelines are for adjudication on initial applications as well as time lines for adjudication on reconsideration appeals.

I confirmed with Service Canada today that the time lines are 26 weeks.  That means it is taking over six months for a decision on a CPP disability application or appeal.

 

Okay so I know from the Freedom of Information requests that I have made that the denial rate on initial is around 62%.  That means that it is going to take over six months for 6 out of 10 of you to be told that you are denied.  And of those people who go on to appeal, it is going to take another six months before you receive a decision on the appeal - and if you are denied again  - well then you are at the Social Security Tribunal.

From the information that I have read and have here in my office, there is a memorandum that notes that the Social Security Tribunal does not expect to be able to manage this backlog until 2017.  In fact I quote from a Memorandum to the Minister of Employment and Social Development from the Social Security Tribunal dated February 2014 states "Based on the early assumptions, the transferred inventory and newly acquired inventory (the backlog) would be eliminated at the earliest by 2017."

So there you go folks.   Please get help with your applications and your reconsideration appeals.  This is no joke. 

Please contact the office if you need help.

Social Security Tribunal can't manage cases documents show.

by Allison Schmidt 15 August 2014 16:01

http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/social-security-tribunal-cant-manage-caseload-documents-show/

 

This is another article on the Social Security Tribunal.  I hope you will share it all with your networks.  I also have more news to blog but I am very busy after three weeks away from the office.  Stay tuned.  And thank you for all your support.

Madam Commissioner - Social Security Tribunal - I need answers to my emails

by Allison Schmidt 21 July 2014 14:43

Perhaps there should be an investigation in to why there is no Information being received from the General Information Email that I am continually being told to use by civil servants and the Social Security Tribunal.  I think that I should bring to attention the fact that it is very challenging to prepare for appeals in an adequate way when I do not get information that is needed for these people.

I am told that this is the appropriate email to use in order to get information on upcoming appeals.

Well speaking to my last email I still have not got responses on these requests.

Further, I have an appeal coming up on August 7th, 2014.

I sent an email - marked it urgent - about the information that I have not received from the Social Security Tribunal which is needed so that the client and our representative can prepare for the appeal.

Okay so we have 18 days until the hearing - when will my emails be returned?

I cannot believe this - this would never happen at the old appeal bodies - why is it so darn difficult for this Tribunal to get it together.

Will the heaing be adjourned because the information was not received in a timely manner????????

 

Recent news articles Social Security Tribunal

by Allison Schmidt 17 July 2014 15:34

With the recent newspaper articles that have been appearing in the national media over the last several weeks, you would think the Social Security Tribunal would be stepping up it's game.

Apparently this is not the case - I am wondering if a story could be written that could talk about the lack of information offered by this agency to the people who have to try and navigate the system.

I have been receiving a lot of calls lately - asking me questions because it will take three days for a client to get an answer from the Social Security Tribunal - and these phonecalls also include request for information on what they should do from MPs offices.

Most recently, I had asked to receive information on an appeal via email to a specific civil servant and was kindly told to email the general information line again.

I did that - and marked it urgent - the appeal is on August 7th.  To date I still have not got a response to my request for information.  In the end, I had to get the answer to my question from the department.

I have also sent two other emails on a file over the last month and I have not got a response - this client's file has an issue that I am trying to resolve - and yet I have had no response.

The last newspaper article written by Dr. Michael Prince has been shared over 1000 times - thank you.

 

 

Seven reasons why disabled Canadian are losing CPP disability benefits

by Allison Schmidt 16 July 2014 08:56

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/seven-reasons-why-disabled-canadians-are-losing-cpp-benefits/article19630200/

 

Here is another article in the Globe and Mail written by Michael Prince.

It provides the seven reasons why disabled Canadians are losing their CPP disability benefits. 

I have written about all seven reasons on this blog - not as eloquently as Mr. Prince.

Please get help whether you are applying for or appealing the denial of your CPP disability benefit.  If you have been denied at intial and you are in the reconsideration process, it is critically important that you get help preparing your appeal.  You do not want to be stuck in the Social Security Tribunal - for all the reaons that Mr. Prince writes in his article.

Please share this article with all your networks.  I will spend the next hours here in the office doing so.

 

Fewer claimants successful when appealing disability benefit denials.

by Allison Schmidt 08 July 2014 09:53

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/fewer-claimants-successful-when-appealing-disability-benefit-denials/article19501881/

 

Another article ran in the Globe and Mail today.  Again please share this with your networks. I am pleased to say that yesterday's story was shared by over 4000 people.  Thank you.

I think the most critical statistic in this article is that in 2013-2014 (since the inception of the Social Security Tribunal) that only 43% of the appeals have been successful.

I have my thoughts on why this is the case, and you can find those if you take the time to read through the blogs that I have been posted since March 2012.

I am afraid we all have to deal with the reality of this new system.  In the next several weeks I will start to repost blog entries to try to give ideas and suggestions to those people who find themself in this system.  Let's all go through the regulations together and the CPP disability adjudication guidelines.

I cannot stress enough that you need to be prepared for these appeals.  It would be my preference for clients not to get to this stage and like one reader commented - if the Feds did not deny 60% of cases originally and reviewed appeals and applications applying their own adjudication guidelines  - then maybe the statistics would be different.

Please get help with your applications and your reconsiderations.  You do not want to have to be stuck at this new appeal system.  Based on these numbers, you will not have a good chance at success.

 

Social Security Tribunal - Some answers please?

by Allison Schmidt 07 July 2014 09:15

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.

 

 

Ottawa Guts Already Overloaded Disabilty Appeals Tribunal.

by Allison Schmidt 06 July 2014 21:15

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-guts-already-overloaded-tribunal/article19485258/

 

Please share this article with all of your networks.

 

Thank you to Gloria Galloway at the Globe and Mail.

 

Keep speaking out. 

 

Allison.

SST decision on the basis of the documents

by Allison Schmidt 03 July 2014 11:38

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

by Allison Schmidt 27 June 2014 10:53

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 info@dcac.ca and I will be pleased to entertain your request.

 

 

 

 

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Service Canada Frustrations

by Allison Schmidt 26 June 2014 10:51

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

by Allison Schmidt 24 June 2014 09:51

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

by Allison Schmidt 19 June 2014 10:30

http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Disability+benefit+system+disgrace+advocate+says/9952281/story.html

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/appeal-process-for-cpp-disability-benefits-is-a-david-and-goliath-battle-sask-advocate-says-1.2679174

 

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.

Allison


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