CPP Disability Claims Advocacy Clinic



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.







Bouquets for the Tribunal Staff

by Allison Schmidt 17 March 2013 12:21

We are heading in to our final two weeks of Review Tribunal and Pension Appeals Board hearings.  The CPP Social Security Tribunal will become in to effect on April 1, 2013.  Change is not easy, and it is going to be a totally new system to get used to in terms of how I am going to present my client's cases.  Thankfully the legislative criteria has not changed of course, you will still have to meet the CPP disability criteria no matter what level of appeal you are at.

I am going to be away working for the next couple of weeks, I have a final eight Review Tribunal hearings to do.

I want to take this opportunity to send my appreciation to the staff of the Review Tribunal and Pension Appeals Board. I would also like to say thank you to the Judges of the PAB as well as the Review Tribunal Panel members. Some are moving on to new positions at the Social Security Tribunal, some are retiring, and some people did not get positions.  My thanks go to you for your support over the last 15 years - for the way that you have all professionally managed the appeal cases, as well as myself.  It has been a great pleasure getting to know you over the years and I wish you all the very best in your new endeavours.

I am feeling the worry of this change - any change, even a possible change for the better, is accompanied with challenges and drawbacks. Like I have said before - keep calm and carry on - and please keep in touch - you know where to find me.

One quick aside to this message - last night I was watching my regular TV shows that I record on my PVR during the week - and I counted at least five times that the Government of Canada advertised its work vision - or whatever economic vision they have for the future.  Instead of paying all this money on advertising how good they are making it for job seekers, and business - why don't they pay their own employees to keep up the levels of acceptable service Canadians need?  Just Saying.



Pull back the curtain please?

by Allison Schmidt 16 March 2013 17:11

It is my goal to help Canadians understand the CPP disability process - I want to pull back the curtain - and help level out the playing field. 

The information I post in these blogs, as well as the information that is included in the CPP application and appeals guide - are based on years of experience of working with Canadians applying for and or appealing the denial of their benefits.

In order to do this well, I employ individuals who also have had their own unique experiences with CPP disability.   I have a lot of information about my employees, who we are, and what we have done.  I pull back the curtain and do not hide behind 1800 numbers, or websites without any addresses or information on fees, or who it is that is actually offering their expertise.

I am happy to announce a new community partner working along side DCAC which I will share in the near future - which I believe will serve my clients well.  I also have some exciting new changes happening with the website - check back frequently.

I received some lovely congratulatory calls yesterday acknowledging my 15 years of service in this business.  It has been a blessing for me to do this work.



End of Year Reflections

by Allison Schmidt 19 December 2012 15:47

Well here I am again winding up another year of work at DCAC.

It has certainly been an interesting year with lots of twists and turns and certainly the major changes coming in the new year the details of which are still unknown.

I have some people that I would like to thank and send my warmest wishes out for the festive season - the registrars and staff and the Pension Appeals Board - the scheduling officer - who is always working hard to organize the scheduling of the hearings - to the staff and scheduling officers at the Review Tribunal office - and the Management and Legal Team who are always helpful when questions arise - and to the staff at CPP offices who handle all of the numerous Personal Information Requests that I send in from all over the country.

The first three months of the new year are going to be very busy with the wrap up of the existing appeals system.  The regulations for the Social Security Tribunal have not yet been released and we are all waiting for these with baited breath to see what the new system will look like.

It has been a very busy year and I am ready to break over the holiday season.

In the new year I will be bringing some additional services to DCAC which I am excited about - as well as some new staff members - and changes to the website - hang on to your hats it's going to be a fun ride I think.

So I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, a joyous Holiday Season, and Prosperity and Good Health for the New Year.

Take Care - Allison




In Memory of Gordon Pynn

by Allison Schmidt 15 October 2012 13:48

The print I have just uploaded hangs in my office. Mr Gordon Pynn accomplished artist gave this print to me after I won his Pension Appeals Board hearing. Mr. Pynn was a fighter - he did not give up - and fought the system. The hearing was the longest hearing I have ever been involved in - it was a slug fight from start to end - but we were successful.

The last time I saw Gordon and his wife Jo - they presented me with this print. He wrote - "To Allison, who fought for me, who never gave up, and who truly has the spirit of the cougar" This hangs in my office and I look at it often when I am frustrated or discouraged.

Gordon championed my work, he was an encouraging email away, he was a silent supporter, and an all-round good guy, and I will miss him. But like Mr. Villani (the Villani decision - who I met personally and kept in touch with until he passed) I know he is encouraging me on from a better place.

Rest in Peace Gord - and my condolences to Jo Anne and your family.



New Team Members coming to DCAC

by Allison Schmidt 22 June 2012 13:42

Well after many years of running DCAC on my own - I am pleased to announce that I have added two new team members to better service everyone's needs. I will make formal announcements shortly. The new team members will be able to assist me as DCAC expands and grows offering services from coast to coast. Very exciting news indeed.

I am also working on some really exciting changes to the website - lots of interactive devices that will help you understand the legislative tenants of Canada Pension Plan disability.

Thank you to all the people who call me weekly - it is a pleasure to speak with you all - and also for your kind words of encouragement about my work and the website.

Have a great weekend. Talk soon.



Forgive my spelling

by Allison Schmidt 08 May 2012 13:19
I am having trouble getting my blog software to allow me to edit posts - I keep losing them when trying to edit - so forgive my spelling errors. Will edit my posts when I can get to the bottom of it GRRRR.



Still learning after all this time.

by Allison Schmidt 13 March 2012 12:40

This week marks my 14th year of running the clinic.

I was so vain as to think that I really understood the procedures and the CPP program well - and you know I do - but there appears situtations to me that I really do not have any idea how to answer people's questions.

I ask them have they phoned the 1-800 number - you know "Service Canada" - and they laugh at me. They tell me that they receive different information depending on the time they call - and then it is an insufferable amount of holding time before you are connected - well I suppose we cannot complain too much - I mean some of the 1-800 numbers I call are off shore and at least "Service Canada" remains in Canada - but any way I digress!

Okay so I have some pretty good contacts within the department - well I thought I did - because I have sent several emails to CPP managers, as well as called CPP regional officers - only to be told to phone the 1-800 number! Yeah okay....

Anyway I am back to trying to wade through enormous amounts of procedures to find policy and answers to questions that half the time I think do not exist - or maybe they exist in one region but not another.

So my recourse is the Freedom Of Information Act, then I have things in black and white and concrete answers to my questions that do not forget relate to Canadians in the public - not cause I am out of a whim trying to find information for my own jollies.

Maybe the Feds are pissed at me cause I am "outing" them - and hello to all you bureaucrats who are reading the blog.

So yes there are clients that appear that have unique situations that I am very interested in finding out the answers - and I often get ideas for the blog from CPP recipients - so thanks and keep them coming. I will try and find out the answers to your questions the answers that you are advised to get from "Service Canada".

Skype Appointments

by Allison Schmidt 03 August 2011 13:46

I have set up the clinic to be able to conduct appointments via webcam using Skype.

I have found that this is an excellent way for people to consult with me from all over Canada.

If you are interested in talking wiith me via Skype please email me to set up a time and then send a friend request using Skype to the Disability Claims Advocacy Clinic.

Please note I will not respond to friend requests to people who have not identified themselves to me!

Disability Tax Credit

by Allison Schmidt 10 February 2011 13:45

The lead story on the CBC National News last night was on Disabilty Tax Credit abuse and the various agencies that have enabled and facilitated these applications.

Most people who claim the disability tax credit are eligible for the benefit.

Many more people with disabilities who would be eligible for the disability tax credit get no benefit of the Disability Tax Credit because they do not have a taxable income.  The Disability Tax Credit should be a refundable benefit I know many individuals with disabilities who survive on incomes below or close to poverty levels - if they had the extra refunded benefit - like the GST or Child Tax benefit - that would be a large financial improvement in their lives. 

Disability Tax Credit eligibility also determines eligibility for other benefits such as the Child Disability Benefit, the Registered Disability Savings Plan, the Working Income Tax Disability Benefit.  It is no longer simply used as a mechanism for offsetting the additional costs of disability for those with a taxable income.

It is easier for those with mobility or sensory impairments to become eligible than those with cognitive impairments in that the evidentiary base is easier to identify and establish- many individuals with mental health, intellectual disabilities, brain injuires, learning disabilities, and episodic disabilities have a hard time qualifying.

Using doctors as the gatekeepers for this benefit is a poor use of an expensive and limited resource.  The Canada Revenue Agency should explore other means of gatekeeping this deduction.

This is the message from the disability community.





A moment to catch my breath

by Allison Schmidt 20 October 2010 15:38

Well what a whirlwind of a month.

CPP must be on a rampage of denials because the phone and emails have been busy. Thank you to all who email me and are pleased with the information the website contains. I am glad that it is of help to you.

So what is new in CPP land?

Well interestingly, I can do an analytic report on who visits my website by location in the country and I was wondering if any of you would hesitate to guess where most of my visits are from?

Okay I find it odd because I do not get a lot of calls from that region - but yes indeed - the most visitors to this site come from Ottawa.  What do you make of that??

Anyway if you are reading this blog my friends in Ottawa - hello!

I still have much to write about but little time right now. In November the work load will decrease a little so I will blog some more then. Take Care. Allison


CPP Early Retirement Benefits

by Administrator 21 August 2010 12:34

Well here we are approximately two months since my last blog. The dog days of summer are upon us. 

I have had a very busy summer and have talked to many interesting people across the country about Canada Pension Plan disability and the problems they are facing - thank you very much for your good feedback about the website.

I chose to write this blog because on a daily basis I receive phone calls from individuals who have been denied CPP disability benefits because they have been in receipt of CPP early retirement benefits that they have taken after age 60.

Now, CPP disability will provide you a benefit until age 65 - after that your benefits would change over to retirement benefits. This is typical with most disability insurance policies as retirement age is usually 65. (I know there has been debate about this age - but for insurance purposes 65 is the magic retirement number.)

If you chose to take your CPP early retirement benefits before age 65 there is a pretty negative implication pertaining to your CPP Disability benefit.

Okay here is it - the legislation states that you are only able to receive one type of CPP benefit at a time - these are death, retirement, and disability.  The legislation also states that CPP can only pay 15 months of retroactivity from the date of your CPP application.  If you have been in receipt of your early retirement benefits longer than 15 months from the date you applied for disability benefits - then you be inelligible to change your benefit from early retirement to disability.

Some examples - Dave applied for early retirement benefits at age 60, and at age 63 he had a stroke disabling him from working. He would be inelligible to for CPP disability as he had been on early retirement for longer than 15 months. 

Susan was disabled from working at age 61.  She applies for CPP Disability benefits at the same time she applies for CPP early retirement benefits. If she is found disabled according to the legislative criteria - any disability benefits she received would be reduced by any early retirement benefits she had taken.

Lisa is disabled and applies for CPP disability - the feds send her a letter denying her claim - saying she is not disabled but lookey here - you can apply for your early retirement benefits instead - and here is a form for you to sign saying that you want to withdraw your disability claim and take your early retirement benefits. Okay, early retirement benefits are less than you would receive for a disability benefit - so get some advice before you sign that form.

Gus applies for CPP early retirement at age 60 and states that he stopped working due to disability.  He assumes the Feds will put him on the "correct" pension based on their review of the application. Two years pass and Gus realizes he is not getting a disability pension. He contacts CPP and is advised that he never applied for CPP disability even though he states he stopped work due to disability - you have to fill out a CPP disability application in order to apply for the benefit.

Bill applies for CPP early retirement and when he becomes disabled is told he cannot qualify for CPP disability based on the fact he has been on early retirement longer than 15 months - he is upset because CPP never advised him of the consequences of applying for early retirement benefit - sorry Bill - transparency is not the Feds greatest attribute.

So here are my final thoughts - statistically the incidence of disability increases as you age. If you want disability coverage under the your Canada Pension Plan then you do not apply for CPP early retirement benefits.  If you are disabled by age 60, then you can if you choose to,  apply for both the early retirement and the disability at the same time - and have someone review your file if you get the letter asking you to withdraw your CPP disability application and take early retirement benefits.




Reasons People are Denied CPP disability Part One.

by Allison Schmidt 01 May 2010 11:53

I receive phonecalls from clients who do not understand why they have been denied CPP disability benefits.  They are indignant that the Feds have denied their claims when they have support of their medical practitioners who state they cannot work. They simply do not understand why after paying into a program for years they cannot get the benefit to which they believe they are entitled to.

I remind these people that based on my research using the Freedom of Information Act, that the CPP denial rates have remained fairly stable over the last 10 years. And yes, I would say there is truth to the rumour that the Feds deny many claims on first application - unless of course you're terminal or the disability is really catastrophic.

I have been in "the trenches" now for 12 years. I think what is different in the last couple of years is what I call the perfect storm.  Aging baby boomers, a poor economy and more applications to Canada Pension Plan have lead to increased applications and more people being denied. People try not to take it personally - it is a system - and you are a number in that system.

So do not give up - do not get frustrated - get a plan of action. Figure out how to establish you meet the legislative criteria. It is your ONUS to establish that you are disabled.  Sometimes you just have to keep making your way through the steps. Do not be afraid of a Review Tribunal hearing. This is where I do most of my work. It is where you finally get to meet someone face to face to talk about your disability. It is a great opportunity so do not waste it by ranting about the Feds.

The most common reasons why CPP disability applications are denied is that the Feds decide the disability is not severe.  Most times you will note in your denial letter that HRSDC state "while you may not be able to do your usual work, we have concluded that you should still be able to do some type of work." If I had a dollar for everytime I have read that line....

HRSDC relies on what your doctors say about your medical conditions and limitations, and on any many reports that they have submitted.  It is important that your doctor's report explain your medical conditions and why this prevents you from working. Simply saying that your disability is "severe and prolonged" on a prescription pad is useless.  If for example your doctor says you are no longer able to do physical ACTIVITIES like bending and lifting, HRSDC may determine that you have the capacity for sedentary work.  If you doctor says your medical conditions are stable HRSDC may interpret your are capable of alternative work or that your condition is not serious enough to stop you from working. 

Often times it is difficult for clients to get information from the doctor - let's face it doctors are really busy - and they can charge a lot of money to prepare medical reports - their time is really stretched.  Many people simply cannot afford the cost of the doctors reports - it is a very difficult position to be in.  One of the next blogs I have to do will be on collecting medical information so stay tuned.


Silent Voices - Education, Intervention, and Prevention of Abuse of People with Disabilities.

by Allison Schmidt 10 April 2010 14:50

My other work is Project Coordinator for the Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities. We are hosting a first of its kind conference on abuse of people with disabilities. The conference is being held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, October 13-15th, 2010.  More information will be forthcoming. Stay tuned.




BC Coallition of People with Disabilities Advocacy Access Program

by Allison Schmidt 10 April 2010 13:17

I would like to take this opportunity to tip my hat to the fine advocates at the BC Coallition Advocacy Access program.  I was made aware that the advocacy program had lost their funding March 31, 2010.  They have been helping appellants since approx 1990. I wish them well in their future endeavours.

DCAC new website

by Allison Schmidt 11 March 2010 22:24

After months of toil the new DCAC website has finally gone live.

We have published quite a bit of information about CPP Disability claims and appeals. We hope this information helps our visitors to better understand the issues and obstacles they may face if appealing a denied CPP Disability benefits claim. New content will be progressively added to our blog when time permits.

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