I was away working yesturday and I would like to share this case with you. I am deliberately being vague with where I was because I would like to share information with you on the down low!
This case was a reassessment case - the Minister's representative came from the reassessment department who advised me that this department is really grown in staff and workload which indicates to me that the Feds are reviewing a lot more CPP disability claimants. Now do not get me wrong - I am all for kicking off people who are working under the table and claiming disability - if you follow this blog - you know that I get angry when I hear that people play the system as there are so many legitimate people who are denied and really struggle financially and with the appeals process - sometimes at very great costs to their personal lives. So if you think you are pulling a fast one on the Feds - you best start watching your back - some people have contacted me with overpayments in the 50K range.
By the same token, I can also understand with the current CPP benefit rates, why some people feel they have no choice but to supplement their CPP benefit - that is why the Feds have the allowable earnings provision - also just FYI - in this case that I am going to talk about - the allowable earnings provision was not applied to the overpayment because the client did not advise CPP disability that he was working. Apparently, (I am not 100% sure on this one but I will find out for you) - if you do not advise the Feds you are doing some work then the allowable earnings amount will not be applied to reduce any overpayment.
I also recently had a email from a man let's call him Sean who asked some questions about Vocational Rehabilitation services offered by CPP and suggested that I blog about this topic.
Okay my client let's call him Ken. Ken was a rural man and supplemented his self-employment by working in construction. In 2005, he was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis. After diagnosis he applied for CPP disability and was approved at reconsideration. After diagnosis, Ken who had always been the "go-to-guy" in his community, fell into a depression. His doctor thought that if Ken tried to get out in the community and find something he could do, his mood would improve. So Ken decided he was going to contact CPP disabiity and ask them about vocational services. Ken advised that the CPP staff who called him on this program were extremely rude to him and he felt immediately anxious as to the continuing status of his benefit. After some time and no support from CPP, Ken made use of the rehabilitation services of his provincial disability organization. They tried to get him typing and had him do some job shadowing - but based on his limitations - they felt that he should be referred on to an agency that found supportive employment and subsidized positions for people with disabilities. Now this agency was able to find a couple of different positions for Ken and ultimately he was successful in securing a position.
Now Ken was very happy - he felt he had a purpose - and he felt he was being useful - his self-esteem improved and he was really trying to keep on going. However, four months into this position (which was entirely sedentary) his health began to decline rapidly - but Ken wanted to keep going so he relied on medication to keep him alert, medication to reduce his pain, and this dependancy became a viscious circle - he could not sleep, he could not concentrate - he could not keep up with the productivity and accuracy level demands of his position, and what started as a good thing for Ken - wound up costing his health dearly. But all Ken wanted to do was keep on working. His lack of clarity into the decline in his health and the dependence on medication and the personal costs to his family became secondary to trying to keep on working. Finally, some 12 months after starting his work experience Ken had no choice but to quit due to medical reasons.
Okay, side story to this case, Ken tried to get in touch with CPP to advise them about his work trial - for some reason the Feds did not get with the program - and Ken kept receiving disability benefits. After his frustration with dealing with the Feds, Ken contacted his provincial MS Society who told him that CPP and Revenue Canada are connected, so CPP would indeed know about his work activity. So Ken thinks that CPP must know and he kept receiving his disability benefit. Okay the MS Society got it partially wrong - yes the Feds can find out through Revenue Canada if a disabiity recipient reports income, this information is not received until you file your taxes - so the Feds do not instantly know that someone is working - which is why Ken had an overpayment - and also why the allowable earnings provision was not applied to the overpayment. He had a bad experience all around - there was lack of information, and to be frank he received some bad advice.
So I attended his Review Tribunal yesturday. I think the hearing went well - once you heard Ken's story you could understand how this all went down - and I get so annoyed that all the information is available to the adjudicators in the reassessment department if only they would ask - if only they would conduct a review of the file that does not just rely on the reporting of T4 income - if only they just read the information in this file - all of this stress and hardship could be avoided - instead it appeared to me that all this "reassessment" was, was another attempt to get another person off the "payroll" The facts were all available to me, I just took the time to find them out. Sometimes I think I am being really harsh on the Feds, but I am not telling you anything that is not the truth, and I think there are good people in the program - but why are there so many good Canadian people getting the run around and all this hassle?
The gentleman who recently emailed me and asked me if CPP provided meaningful rehabilitation services - take what you get from this blog and think hard. To be fair, I only hear the problems and not the good things about any programs and services that work well. If any one has had a good experience I would really love to hear from you.
Bye for now. Allison