Many hardworking Canadians who suffer injury or illness resulting in long term disability may not be aware of Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits (CPP-D) that they can apply for through the Federal Government.
CPP-D serve as partial income replacement for those who are eligible after sustaining a disability that prevents them from working. This program represents the largest public disability insurance program in Canada.
Initial CPP-D decisions and reconsiderations are administered through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and appeals are made to the Social Security Tribunal.
To be eligible for CPP-D, applicants must be under the age of 65 and must have either been making contributions in 4 of the last 6 years or for 3 of the last 6 years for those who have been making contributions for 25 years or more.
The disability test that applicants must meet to be approved requires that their disability be both “severe” and“prolonged,” and it must prevent them from being able to work at any job on a regular basis. “Severe” means that an applicant must have a mental or physical disability that regularly stops them from doing any type of substantially gainful work. “prolonged” means that an applicant’s disability is long-term and of indefinite duration or is likely to result in death.
If your CPP-D application is approved, you can expect to receive a lump sum of “back-pay” from the date of your disability onset to the present and future payments of between about $900.00 and $1,300.00 per month (as of 2018) depending on contributions made over your working career.
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES WITH GETTING APPROVED?
Even if you are legitimately disabled, that will not matter if you cannot convince the ESDC of your disability through a well-prepared application and supporting documents.
The “Severe and Prolonged” disability test is a hard test to meet let alone applying without consulting an experienced disability lawyer who can assist you with the process.
It is also taxpayer money that is being used to fund this program and there would be further incentive to vigorously screen all applications. More often than not, applications are denied as benefits will only be paid out to those applicants who can prove their case convincingly. Most people simply don’t.
If you have applied for CPP-D but were denied, you would have 90 days from the denial to date seek a reconsideration from the ESDC. New evidence can then be submitted to address any concerns raised in the initial decision.
BENEFITS TO BEING APPROVED
In addition to receiving monthly disability income, CPP-D approval provides other benefits, especially when it comes to justifying income loss claims in the course of litigation relating to your disability.
For example, in the course of tort claims against the defendants who caused or contributed to your disability (i.e. an at fault driver who rear ended you or an at fault property owner who failed to salt their property), receiving CPP-D can be persuasive, especially when trying to prove an income loss claim against the at fault party to top up any income shortfall. This is because CPP-D is such an onerous test to meet that it is often seen as the “Gold Standard” of Disability. When the defendant sees that you have been granted CPP-Disability, they will have a much more difficult time undermining the argument that you cannot work if you have been approved and are receiving these disability benefits.
Similarly, in disputes with Long Term Disability Carriers, many policies will require as a term of receiving such benefits that CPP-D be applied for. The reason for this would be so that the Insurer can reap the benefits of deducting CPP-D payments from its own exposure. On the other hand, if an applicant has been approved for CPP-D, the Long-Term Disability Insurer will have a much more difficult time denying that you are totally disabled.
There are many good reasons to apply for CPP-D. Whether it be the financial security of having some supplementary income coming in or using the CPP-D approval itself to command a greater economic payout in litigation relating to your disability, it is crucial that careful thought and preparation go into the application.
It is always advisable to speak with an experienced disability lawyer before embarking on an application, reconsideration or appeal that can have many significant implications on your life and ongoing litigation.
If you are no longer able to work because of a disability and are considering applying for CPP-D, challenging a CPP-D denial through reconsideration or pursuing an appeal, we welcome the opportunity to speaking with you.