“But I am not even close to age 65?  How can I apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits?”

“But I am not even close to age 65? How can I apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits?”

CPP Disability Benefits

Most people in Canada, even those who have worked for several decades, are unaware of the full benefits of CPP. Just about everyone knows that there is a retirement pension available once you reach your 60s, but those premiums you complain about on every pay cheque also support a disability fund.

If you become medically disabled and unable to continue working, you should apply. The test for entitlement in the legislation is considered very tough but many people do qualify. Contrary to some misconceptions, including those held by many doctors, you do not have to be dying or confined to bed.

You do need to apply as soon as possible as CPP will only back-pay a certain time period if you are found to be eligible. The forms are not difficult but there are several including a medical report. You can submit more than one medical form from different specialists or from your family doctor and a specialist. Be sure to keep copies of all papers submitted.

You are supposed to receive an acknowledgement that your application was received. If you do not, or if more than three months has passed since you have had any communication, call to check on the status of your file. A final decision can usually take six months to process.

First Application Rejected? Submit Again

If you are rejected on the first application, submit a request for reconsideration. The correspondence received from CPP explains the process in detail. You have to send a note asking for the reconsideration, and can add anything you wish. The important information is a “targeted letter” from your doctor(s). This is a note refuting the reason for the refusal by CPP, advising why the decision is wrong from a medical viewpoint.

There is no need to restate the history, as we know that the information may be available within the reports and records already submitted to CPP. However, it is necessary to put the specific details up front to them.

Statistically, the further you proceed into the appeals, the higher the percentage of acceptances.

If you are accepted, the benefits are payable to age 65, unless you recover your health. At age 65 years, the benefit will revert to the retirement benefit calculated on the basis of your contributions.  Having received CPP disability does not affect the amount.

By Shira Bernholtz B.A., LL.B.

Client Services Lawyer, Share Lawyers

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