On this website is a link to a CPP disability Application Guide which will give some instruction on what is important when completing a CPP disability application.
There are many forums out there which espouse their opinions about what makes a good application and how you can avoid the pitfalls which may cause your CPP disability benefits to be denied. I think that many of these ideas have merit - but some I think are not really feasible - like paying for independent assessments and rehabilitation programs that assess your work capacity. Whilst I agree that these types of tests give important information - some times I have found that all these assessments do are muddy the water - if they indicate that there is any capacity to work - or any capacity to retrain - or any capacity whatsoever - I find the Feds will use this as a reason to deny the benefits. Also I think that these assessments are unaffordable for most people who are applying for CPP disability benefits. There are some disability organizations that do provide testing in terms of work capacity as a free service - and I think that these assessments certainly have merit - for the reason that it shows that the appellant has looked for ways to mitigate his disability by seeking alternative solutions to work opportunities.
I had a recent case, a gentleman who dealt with chronic pain stemming from severe shoulder arthritis - surgery did not help improve his situation -and his surgeon had listed his work restrictions - no overhead lifting - no repetitive movement - etc etc. But the Feds had argued - in typical form - that this client had limitations but was capable of alternative employment. To address that, I suggested to the client that he attend a local Abilities Council for vocational assessment which was a six week process - first they do a functional capacity evaluation, then they have counsellors suggest alternative careers based of education etc., and then they do an actual work-place simulation to determine how this client would do in a work environment with their particular disability. Now my client did quite well on his assessments - and there were additional options for him that were identified - but what was not considered in the vocational assessment - was the pain this gentleman was in - and how these subjective issues like pain, decreased mood, and difficulty sleeping would impact his function in the workplace. He struggled through the six week assessment and was found to be "capable" of working two days per week - non consecutive days - but nevertheless found capable of something - which only gave the Feds another argument to deny his claim. It was not until he went before the Review Tribunal and was able to explain how the subjective components of his disability effected his work capacity, as well as the fact that two days are week is not regular or substantially gainful, that he was successful in his appeal. I do not believe that vocational assessments are a panacea to achieving a successful application.
Another thing that I have seen quite frequently is the applicant going to their doctors and having them complete medical reports that quote the CPP disability legislation verbatim - that is - "my patient such and such is incapable of regularly pursuing a substantiall gainful occupation and has a disability that is severe and prolonged" - this is not helpful. I have a client his name is Lyndon - and he has had declining cognitive functioning for the last year - he still has not got a "label" and what I mean by that - there is no indication as to what is causing his symptoms - he is undiagnosed. Now I have been in constant contact with Lyndon as well as the medical adjudicator for CPP (as I have been around for many years I have the advantage of knowing many of the medical adjudicators at CPP and I think I have a good working relationship with them - despite my blogging) - and the adjudicator's concern is without a label or medical diagnosis - CPP does not know if there are treatment options available which might mitigate his disability - and he continues at this stage to be denied -pending more medical investigation. Now you have to remember that Lyndon has been disabled for over 12 months - and all of his doctors are supportive and outline his functional limitations and why he cannot work. I guess the point that I am making here is to suggest that a perfect medical report will automatically result in a CPP approval is not the case at all.
When I request information from a doctor I ask them to address the following questions:
1. What does the physician think is the primary disabling condition?
2. What are the secondary conditions contributing to the disability?
3. Is there sufficient objective medical information to support the medical condition?
4. What is the doctor's opinion on current and past treatment and their effectiveness?
5. How could treatment be improved? Are there barriers to treatment that may need to be addressed?
6. Has appropriate testing been done?
7. How does your patient's disability impair his/her ability to obtain and maintain employment? What restrictions and limitations would be placed on him/her in order to be able to attend a place of employment?
8. Do you have any statement or observations that may support his/her application for CPP disability? Has your patient been compliant with medical recommendations? Do you find your patient credible in their reports of subjective symptoms?
These are some of the questions I think need to be addressed by a physician to add weight to an CPP disability application or appeal. Again there are challenges to getting complete medical reports due to cost barriers but if you are working with a professional case management firm like DCAC, the costs of medical reports can be funded and reimbursed if there is a successful application or appeal. When I work with a client, each letter I send for medical information is tailored to the specific case I am working on, but will usually contain questions like the example above. It is really important that all information be vetted by a professional to ensure that what is submitted will not muddy the water in terms of an application or appeal.
Many times I have had clients write appeals or answers to requests from CPP disability without any knowledge of the legislative criteria which only cause problems at the end of the day - there are certain "wrong" answers folks - and I am not suggesting that any one lie or deceive CPP - but saying there are no jobs in your area - or that you would not work for less than 10 bucks an hour - or you find me are job - are not going to help the application or appeal for many reasons
Someone told me once that in order to have a successful business you have to provide value to your customer. DCAC provides value in the following ways:
- We include on this website is a Canada Pension Plan Disability Kit as well as a Canada Pension Plan Appeal Guide which will identify helpful suggestions.
- Our staff are experienced - you can see the level of accumulated experience when you read about our team. We understand the legislation.
- We have worked on numerous cases, we understand how a disability application and appeal should be managed.
- We provide all the services you need when applying for or appealing a CPP disability. We can see you right though the processes. Our work together will benefit by achieving early approvals and assisting you to avoid the common pitfalls of doing it alone.
- We have all the available technology to support clients across the country, whether it be facetime, skype, email, or the telephone we are able to meet your needs.
- We have years of accumulated contacts within the Canada Pension Plan bureaucracy.
- We are up to date with all of the changes that will occur in the appeals system beginning April 1, 2013 with the implementation of the CPP Social Security Tribunal.
- Our website contains a plethora of information on CPP Disability including case examples to help you understand the legislation
If you are in the application or appeals process and need some information on how to proceed, please do not hesitate to contact our office.