CPP Disability Claims Advocacy Clinic



Questions in the House of Commons

by Allison Schmidt 19 November 2014 14:27

Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims (Newton—North Delta, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the chair of the social security tribunal told the human resources committee that she had been in continuous contact with the minister regarding the backlog.

Yet, for 18 months now, that backlog has continued to grow while the tribunal has been understaffed and working without performance standards. More than 14,600 Canadians are now waiting for a hearing.

All of this begs the question: Why did the minister not take action sooner to address the enormous mess at the social security tribunal?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, again, in fact our ministry did take action by introducing a new approach towards reconsideration of EI refusals. That now happens quickly, by a public servant who, remarkably, actually picks up a phone and calls the person who has asked for a reconsideration, and sorts it out, often getting additional documentation.

This means that we are now resolving about 90% of those refusals at a reconsideration stage in a matter of weeks, without having to go through a lengthy multi-month quasi-judicial process.

In terms of the CPP cases before the tribunal, we are adding additional decision-makers and taking other administrative measures to speed up the process.

Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP): Mr. Speaker, behind every one of those numbers is a person who needs to put food on the table and pay the bills.

People cannot wait years for the government to get its act together. Nearly 10,000 Canadians still waiting for an appeal are living with a disability. In many cases the uncertainty and stress of financial insecurity makes their medical conditions worse.

Will the minister commit to eliminate the backlog and finally give these Canadians the justice they need and deserve?

Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker. That is, in part, why we have legislation before the House in the budget implementation act, which we hope the NDP will support, which would allow us to hire up to an additional 22 decision makers at the tribunal.

I am very pleased to highlight that the faster informal reconsideration process for refused EI applications would mean a 90% reduction in the caseload for EI, which would mean that we could reallocate those decision makers over to the income security division, which would mean that we would get at that backlog of cases so that we could provide the kind of service that Canadians expect and deserve.

Latest information on the Social Security Tribunal backlog

by Allison Schmidt 19 November 2014 09:06

Shameful backlog of cases at Social Security Tribunal


This is a publication that was sent to me today using Google Alerts.  It speaks to the current back log at the Social Security Tribunal.

It says in the article that the tribunal has a back log of 14,677 cases.  It is not stated how many of these are income security cases which are Canada Pension Plan disability appeals, but it does note that the majority of the back log are these types of appeals.

It says at current staffing it will take 11 years to clear the backlog, and if the tribunal doubles the staffing it will take 5.5 years to clear the back log.  I know there was a recent news article which stated that Minister Kenny had agreed to a change in the regulation to increase the number of tribunal members. 

So for those of you who have been denied on intital application and are in the reconsideration process, please make sure that you get some help to case-manage your appeal.  If you are denied the reconsideration, you are going to be facing indeterminable delays to have your appeal heard.

If you are just stating out applying for CPP disability, it is also a good idea to get some help with the preparation of this application. You have two opportunities to convince the adjudicators that you meet the requirements for disability, therefore I would use these opportunities to the best of my ability.

Who is hearing your CPP appeals?

by Allison Schmidt 17 October 2014 16:09



FYI  - makes for interesting reading - please people who are appealing CPP disability get help.

Electronic record management difficulties at the Social Security Tribunal

by Allison Schmidt 17 October 2014 14:08

For months now, I have been submitting electronic versions of the SST Notice of Appeal, Authorizations, and additional documents to the Social Security Tribunal. This is the recommended method of submission that the Social Security Tribunal has requested on their weibsite and is supposed to be efficient and timely in the management of documentation.


I have discovered that over the last several months (at least six) that documents, notice of appeals. authorizations, and various other items electronically submitted in some cases (I do not know how many) have been fire-walled out by the government's computer system sending it to "quanrantine" and that the SST have not been advised that there are emails waiting for them and after 30 days the documents are deleted.

I had discovered this issue, when I had contacted the SST in follow up as I had not heard on a specific appeal acknowledgment.  As it had been many months I was concerned.  I had assumed that due to backlogs that this was the reason for the delay but on a hunch I decided to follow up.  The appeal was sent electronically as per the preferred method of submission by the SST.  I scanned and emailed the documents, I received a confirmation email from the SST that my documents had been received.  I keep a hard copy of the submissions, along with the confirmation emails, each time that I do this transaction.

When I heard back on my enquiry I was asked to submit documentation so the SST could check their records.  I then received a call stating that my Notice of Appeal document had been sent to quarantine and deleted after 30 days.

Okay so you can imagine my complete and utter disbelief that I have been relying on this system of electronic submission for months and now I am told whoops we have a bugaboo.

Now I have no idea how many appeals have been registered - how many documents were received, what has been lost, what the hell the is going on - what a veritable nightmare.

Thankfully I have paper documents and copies of any thing that I have submitted as well as electronic receipts from the SST - please note however, that I have been advised that I would receive an electronic receipt even if the email went to quarantine. 

I have not said anything about this because I felt that SST should have a chance to remedy this situation - however, this week another two of my appeals have appeared to have been sent to quarantine and deleted.

There has to be a better freaking system that this - this is not working.

Now for those out there who have made an appeal electronically on their own or sent additional documents electronically please do not rely on the electronic confirmation and check in with the SST that your documents have been received.  As well, make sure everytime you communicate with the SST electronically that you SAVE all the communications of any type.

A mess to be sure.


The issue with CPP disability contributions

by Allison Schmidt 01 October 2014 16:15



This story broke my heart.  It is a story I hear all too often.  Denied due to lack of contributions because life takes turns and the CPP disability rules appear not to take that life happens in to account.

This man has a MQP of December 2011 based on contributions he had made for many years to CPP.  But, lecause of life's circumstances and the compassion of this man to care for his family, his limited income during a two year period resulted in non-contributory years and as a result he not qualify for CPP disability after the December 2011 time frame.

This situation keeps on happening - it is time for the government to make some sort of accommodation.  How can a man who has worked his entire life, but because of life circumstances has disqualified himself from getting a CPP Disability benefit?

Mr and Mrs Thompson thank you for speaking out.


Thank you to the Former Member of the Social Security Tribunal

by Allison Schmidt 26 September 2014 10:17



This is a very interesting article from a former Social Security Tribunal member.  I had said some time ago that the disbandment of the previous Review Tribunal and the Pension Appeals Board reflected a huge brain drain of experienced tribunal members who completely understood the legislative tenants of Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.  I do not know who this ex-tribunal member is - but I would like to extend my appreciation for speaking out and that doing so was a very honourable thing to do.  Thank you.

In recent documents reviewed by this office, it indicated the level of training the new Social Security Tribunal members received upon appointment with most of them receiving only ten days of training. I find this very disappointing.  These are complex cases with detailed medical evidence to review and assimulate with the rules.  

Okay this is now at least ten or more news articles about the Social Security Tribunal - and I have been privy to all of the documentation that has been collected in order to support these stories.  It is real and really happening.

This week I attended a Social Security Tribunal - client appeal number was 116XXX.  The appeal was heard before a prior Review Tribunal member and I thought it went well.  It was an in-person hearing.  The tribunal member was very prepared and did a good job running the hearing.  Interestingly, this tribunal member was a prior member of the old appeal system and had the level of experience to run the hearing (just my opinion given my experience).



CPP Social Security Tribunal recent news

by Allison Schmidt 23 September 2014 11:09



Here is a link to a recent article about the Social Security Tribunal. 

I am receiving appeal scheduling from the Social Security Tribunal for Review Tribunal legacy cases numbered 119XXX  remember that the legacy cases that came over from the Review Tribunal are numbered up to 125XXX

These cases that have been scheduled applied to Canada Pension Plan disability in 2011 and to the Review Tribunal in early 2012.  So if you are a legacy case waiting to be heard you are likely to be waiting until 2015 now.

Also the Tribunal are scheduling legacy cases - if you applied to the Social Security Tribunal in April 2013 and after that you will be waiting a very long time.

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:



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



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



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



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



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



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



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.


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