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Social Security Tribunal Process Changes

by Allison Schmidt 01 April 2014 13:03

This information was posted to the Social Security Tribunal website and I have posted this for your information.  I have not had time to digest the changes as yet but will post when I have a chance.

Changes to the income security appeal process effective April 1, 2014

This change affects Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) appeals assigned to Tribunal Members after April 1, 2014, that were initially filed with the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals (OCRT) and that were transferred to the Social Security Tribunal of Canada on April 1, 2013, and new appeals filed with the Social Security Tribunal since April 1, 2013.

In a previous letter, the parties had up to 365 days from April 1, 2013 to file additional documents or submissions with the Tribunal. However, if a party filed documents or submissions within 30 days of April 1, 2014, an additional 30 days to file documents in response would then be provided to the other parties. This means that appeals originally filed with the OCRT are considered ready to proceed on either April 1, 2014, or on May 1, 2014.

 

New process

We understand that parties may have new documents and submissions to file with the Tribunal while they wait for a hearing/decision. To address this, parties will be allowed to continue to file new documents and submissions during the delay period. A copy of any new documents or submissions received by the Tribunal will be provided to the other parties for consideration. If a document has already been provided to the OCRT or to the Tribunal, there is no need to file it again with the Tribunal.

The Tribunal will notify the parties a few weeks before the appeal is ready to be assigned to a Member. The oldest cases will generally be assigned first. Parties may continue to file new documents or submissions.

Once the Member is assigned to the appeal and has decided how to proceed, the Tribunal will inform the parties of specific dates for a final filing of documents. The parties will have at least 30 days to file any last documents or submissions that have not already been filed. They will also have an additional 30 days to respond to new documents or submissions filed by the other party.

If a hearing is scheduled, no further documents or submissions may be filed within 30 days of the hearing date, except at the discretion of the Member.

Complete and return the Hearing Information Form (HIF)

We encourage all parties to complete the copy of the Hearing Information Form that will be mailed to you and return it to the Tribunal. This will help the Member, when applicable, to decide the form of hearing and to schedule a hearing date when the parties are available. More information is provided on the form itself.

Continue to file new documents or submissions you think are important to this appeal

Please send new documents or submissions that you think are important to this appeal as soon as possible. Please do not send any documents or submissions that have already been provided. Do not wait until your appeal is ready to be heard or decided to send your documents. Last minute documents or submissions may be excluded and not considered in the decision, or may result in a lengthy adjournment.

Reminder

The Tribunal will contact the parties as soon as it is ready to assign this appeal to a Member for consideration and will provide the parties with information about when and how this appeal will proceed. Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to process cases fairly and as efficiently as possible.

Special circumstances

More than 7,000 appeals were transferred from the OCRT to the Tribunal. As appeals became ready to proceed, they were assigned to Tribunal Members. Although many appeals were concluded, the Tribunal was unable to assign the majority of these appeals before April 1, 2014 because the parties’ right to file additional documents and submissions continued and because numerous documents, Notices of Readiness and submissions were received in the final 30 days which extended the time for a response to May 1, 2014.

The significant caseload transferred to the Tribunal and considered ready to proceed on April 1, 2014 or on May 1, 2014, will result in some inevitable delay in scheduling hearings and sending decisions.

The Tribunal will continue to assign appeals considered ready to proceed to Tribunal Members. For cases assigned on or after April 1, 2014, the Tribunal has developed a new process to ensure that we treat all appeals fairly and as quickly as possible.

 

Frequently asked questions

 

How many appeals were transferred from the OCRT to the Tribunal?

In total, 7,224 appeals filed with the OCRT were transferred to the Tribunal.

Have any of the OCRT appeals been concluded?

Yes. Because a notice was filed from all parties without new documents, some appeals were able to proceed and have since concluded, either based on a settlement or agreement by the parties, or following a decision from the Tribunal Member. But the majority of the OCRT appeals could not conclude, primarily because one of the parties to the appeal did not file a Notice of Readiness within the 365-day period and because numerous documents, Notices of Readiness and submissions were received in the final 30 days which extended the time for a response to May 1, 2014.

How long will it take for the Tribunal to decide my appeal or schedule a hearing for my appeal?

Due to the significant volume of appeals, delays are inevitable and therefore it is difficult to estimate exactly. The Tribunal will generally proceed in the order in which the appeals were filed. Therefore, the oldest files will be assigned to Tribunal Members first. The Tribunal will notify the parties a few weeks before the appeal is ready to be assigned to a Member. After an appeal has been assigned to a Tribunal Member, the Tribunal will send the parties a Notice of Hearing or a letter indicating the Tribunal Member’s intention to make a decision based on the documents that have been filed.

Why does this take so long?

This is predominantly because the majority of OCRT appeals transferred to the Tribunal could not conclude, and also because of the significant volume that these appeals represent. Appeals filed with the OCRT were considered to have been filed with the Tribunal on April 1, 2013 and, according to the law, all parties to the appeal had 365 days to either file new documents or submissions, or to file a notice that they had no documents or submissions to file. Over 7,000 appeals were transferred from the OCRT and the Tribunal could not proceed with these before receiving such notice or before the expiry of the 365-day period. In the case of all of the appeals as transferred from the OCRT, the 365-day period ended on either April 1, 2014 or on May 1, 2014 for appeals where additional documents were received in the final 30 days, which extended the time for a response to May 1, 2014.

Why am I being informed of the status of my appeal now?

Appeals filed with the OCRT were considered to have been filed on April 1, 2013 and, according to the law, all parties to the appeal had 365 days to either file new documents or submissions, or to file a notice that they had no documents or submissions to file. The Tribunal could not proceed with the appeals before receiving such notice or before the expiry of the 365 day period. In the case of appeals transferred from the OCRT, the 365 day period ended on April 1, 2014 or on May 1, 2014 for appeals where additional documents were received in the final 30 days, which extended the time for a response to May 1, 2014.

Why may I continue to file documents as part of this appeal?

There will be some delays at the Tribunal due to the significant number of appeals transferred from the OCRT that are ready to proceed as of April 1, 2014 or on May 1, 2014. To ensure that a Tribunal Member can make a final decision based on complete up-to-date information, the parties will be provided with an opportunity to file new documents, if they choose to do so. There is no obligation for the parties to file any new documents. Please do not send any documents or submissions that have already been provided and do not wait until the appeal is ready to be heard or decided to send your new documents.

I do not have any further documents to file and I am ready to proceed now. Will my appeal be assigned to a Tribunal Member right away?

Although the parties may be ready to proceed, given the very large volume of cases ready to proceed, generally, the Tribunal will assign files according to the date that they were filed with the OCRT or with the Tribunal. Therefore, the oldest files will be assigned to Tribunal Members first. After an appeal has been assigned to a Tribunal Member, the Tribunal will send the parties a Notice of Hearing or a letter indicating the Tribunal Member’s intention to make a decision based on the documents that have been filed.

What happens if a party to this appeal files new documents while waiting for the file to be assigned to a Tribunal Member?

The Tribunal will provide a copy of any document filed by a party during this period to the other parties, until the Tribunal Member has been assigned to the appeal. The assignment of a Tribunal Member to an appeal will also mark the start of a prescribed period of time to file final documents for this appeal. Until then, all parties to an appeal may continue to file new documents or submissions.

Will the further filing of documents as part of this appeal delay the final decision?

While all parties may continue to file documents and responses as part of the appeal, once a Tribunal Member has been assigned to the appeal, a time limit to file last documents will be determined, and any documents filed beyond the established time limit will be considered only at the discretion of the Tribunal Member. Therefore, filing documents during the prescribed time limits will not delay the final decision. However documents filed beyond these time limits may create delays, as the Tribunal Member will need to determine whether or not to admit them as evidence.

How will I know when a Tribunal Member has been assigned to this appeal?

The Tribunal will notify the parties a few weeks before the appeal is assigned to a Member. After a Tribunal Member has been assigned to the appeal, the Tribunal will send a letter to all parties, outlining how the appeal will proceed.

If there are exceptional circumstances, can my appeal be assigned sooner?

Where there are exceptional circumstances, such as terminal illness, an appeal may be assigned sooner. You may submit to the Tribunal written reasons why you believe that your appeal should be prioritized. The Tribunal will make a determination on whether or not exceptional circumstances exist to warrant that your appeal proceed ahead of older appeals.

What is the Hearing Information form and must I complete it?

The Hearing Information form helps the Tribunal Member determine the appropriate form of hearing, in the event that the Tribunal Member decides to proceed with a hearing. It is not mandatory to complete this form, but the Tribunal encourages all parties to do so, to help the member decide the form of hearing and to schedule a date when the parties are available.

Even though I have already filed a notice and indicated that I have no documents or submissions to file, can I now file new documents?

Yes. There will be some delays as a result of the significant number of appeals transferred from the OCRT that are now considered ready to proceed. To ensure that a Tribunal Member can make a final decision based on complete up-to-date information, the parties are provided with an opportunity to file new documents, if they choose to do so. There is no obligation for the parties to file any new documents. After a Tribunal Member has been assigned to the appeal, the Tribunal will send the parties a letter outlining prescribed time limits to file final documents. Any documents filed beyond the prescribed time limits will be considered only at the discretion of the Tribunal Member.

I sent my notice several months ago, indicating that I was ready to proceed. Why has the Tribunal not heard my appeal yet? Given that I have been ready for months, should my appeal not proceed ahead of the others?

Although you may have filed a signed notice with the Tribunal, a party to your appeal did not, or new documents were included with a notice. Since the
Tribunal provides a copy of any new document filed by a party to the other parties involved in the appeal, these new documents provide the other parties with an opportunity to respond, thereby cancelling any notice that may have been previously filed. The time to respond (365 day period) applies to all parties. The Tribunal could not proceed with the appeals before receiving such notice from all the parties or before the expiry of the 365 day period. If a party filed documents or submissions within 30 days of April 1, 2014, an additional 30 days to file documents in response would then be provided to the other parties. In the case of files transferred from the OCRT, the 365-day period ended on either April 1, 2014 or on May 1, 2014, if documents or submissions were filed within 30 days of April 1, 2014. The Tribunal will generally proceed in the order in which the appeals were filed, according to the date that they were filed with the OCRT or with the Tribunal. Therefore, the oldest files will be assigned to Tribunal Members first. After an appeal has been assigned to a Tribunal Member, the Tribunal will send the parties a Notice of Hearing or a letter indicating the Tribunal Member’s intention to make a decision based on the documents that have been filed.

If a hearing takes place by written questions and answers, how will that work?

In the case of written questions and answers, the parties will receive a Notice of Hearing that will contain the following information:
  • the time limit to provide new documents and submissions and responses to these documents and submissions;
  • the Tribunal Member’s questions; and
  • the timeline for the parties to respond to the Tribunal Member’s questions.

Example:

 

Notice of Hearing is dated May 1, 2014 and includes Member’s questions:

  • The parties have until June 15, 2014 to answer the Member’s questions;
  • The parties have until June 15, 2014 to also file other last documents and submissions;
  • The parties then have from June 15, 2014 to July 15, 2014 to respond to each other’s new material; and
  • After July 15, 2014, the Member reviews the answers to the questions and the new material and writes a decision.

 

If an oral hearing takes place (teleconference, videoconference or personal appearance), how will that work?

If the Tribunal Member determines that an oral hearing is required, the Tribunal will send to all parties a Notice of Hearing. The Notice of Hearing will specify the time limits for filing new documents or submissions and for responding to any documents or submissions filed. An oral hearing will be scheduled for at least 90 days after the Tribunal sends the Notice of Hearing to the parties.

The general time limits for filing documents or submissions once an oral hearing has been scheduled are as follows:

  • Parties can continue to file new documents or submissions up to 60 days before the scheduled hearing date;
  • Responding documents or submissions can be filed up to 30 days before the scheduled hearing date; and
  • No documents or submissions should be filed within 30 days of the scheduled hearing date. Consideration of any such documents or submissions will be subject to the discretion of the Tribunal Member and may be excluded from the evidence.

All time limits will be specifically outlined in the Notice of Hearing.

Example:

 

Notice of Hearing is dated May 1, 2014 and sets out a hearing date for August 15, 2014 (at least 90 days later):

  • The parties then have from June 15 to July 15 , 2014 to file responses to the other party’s material;
  • The parties have until June 15, 2014 (60 days before the Hearing Date) to file last documents and submissions;
  • No documents may be filed after July 15 , 2014; and
  • On July 16, 2014 the Member reviews the new information and proceeds with the hearing on August 15, 2014.
Can the form of hearing change following the Notice of Hearing?

After reviewing the final documents and submissions filed, the Tribunal Member may decide to change the form of hearing. The Tribunal will notify the parties in the event that there is a change in the form of hearing.

What does it mean if the Tribunal Member intends to make a decision on the basis of the documents and submissions filed?

In the case of a decision based on the information on file, there is no hearing scheduled. Instead, the Tribunal will send to the parties a letter indicating that the Tribunal Member intends to make a decision on the basis of the documents and submissions filed. The parties will be provided with time limits for filing final new documents and submissions.

Example:

 

Letter is dated May 1, 2014:
  • The parties have until June 15, 2014 to file any last documents or submissions;
  • The parties then have from June 15, 2014 until July 15, 2014 to file responses to the other party’s material; and
  • After July 15, 2014, the Member reviews the new material and writes a decision.

 

The Social Security Tribunal knew that there would be appeals that would be considered ready to proceed on April 1, 2014. Why were the changes to the process not made sooner?

The Tribunal expected more appeals to conclude before April 1, 2014. Appeals filed with the OCRT were considered to have been filed with the Tribunal on April 1, 2013 and, according to the law, all parties to the appeal had 365 days to either file new documents or submissions, or to file a notice that they had no documents or submissions to file. The Tribunal expected to receive such notices starting in April 2013, and expected to be in a position to conclude many appeals on a monthly basis. Because a notice was filed from all parties without new documents, some appeals were able to proceed and have since concluded, either based on a settlement or agreement by the parties, or following a decision from the Tribunal Member. But the majority of the OCRT appeals could not conclude, primarily because one of the parties to the appeal did not file a Notice of Readiness within the 365-day period or because numerous documents, Notices of Readiness and submissions were received in the final 30 days which extended the time for a response to May 1, 2014.
Date modified:
2014-04-01

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