Don’t count on CPP disability benefits if you get sick…

I can’t stress enough to people how important it is to buy yourself private disability insurance before you get sick. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) we pay into every month is likely to leave you high and dry if you end up in a situation where you can’t work because of illness.

This week I received a  telling me that CPP denied my application for a disability pension. I had asked them to reconsider it, but the outcome was the same. Apparently, if you can do any work at all you are not eligible. This includes if you can work a few hours a week occasionally or seasonally. Basically, I am not entitled to the monthly disability payment (from a plan I paid into) of about $800 because I can, according to them, work a few hours a week. Even at $20 an hour, that would only be about $100 a week before tax or $400 a month.

When they called me on the phone to ask me some questions and explain their decision they said “of course you may not be able to go back to your old job, but we think you can do a much less stressful job.” Um, okay. I can’t even make my weekly volunteering on a consistent basis. And, the only reason I can do that on a semi-regular basis is because it is completely non-stressful because I don’t have to manage any workplace politics to do it. Also, if I can’t come in because my mood is crap they are okay with that. No one there is going to fire me for inconsistent work attendance.

Luckily for me I am covered by a private disability insurance plan through my previous employer. At least the CPP decision doesn’t leave me completely penniless. Otherwise I have no idea how I would be able to support my son and myself. It makes me wonder, as well, how sick you have to be to qualify for CPP. I also wonder if the standards are as high for people with “physical disabilities”?

Of course, they also sent me a list of other government programs available for persons with a disability. I have applied to several them, including the Disability Tax Credit. I have been denied those as well because the government does not consider my disability to be severe enough.

So much for the Conservative government’s claims to to be helping Canadians with a disability. But, of course I am not surprised.

10 thoughts on “Don’t count on CPP disability benefits if you get sick…

  1. lori says:

    I am so sorry you didn’t get benefits. I am concerned that your appeal didn’t got through because I have applied and our stories sound similar.

    Under the legislation you can’t “regularly” work at a “gainful” occupation. I can’t either. I can’t do anything on a regular basis – like you – even volunteer – which is not that stressful, has no real politics and I am not required to do if I am unwell.

    I don’t think they make consistent decisions, it depends on so many technicalities and I think the spirit of the legislation is not being upheld.

    I am glad you have private insurance. I don’t but have some pension money. I guess when that runs out I will qualify for social assistance….

    Take care

  2. Sandy says:

    This may or may not apply in your situation, but it is well-known that CPP-Disability denies everyone the first time they apply, and also usually deny through all of the appeals you are allowed (2 I think). Once those are exhausted, you can then appeal and apply to go to Tribunal. It is at this stage that people most often win their case. Tribunal is entirely separated from CPP-Disability, though both are gov’t entities. New people, unconnected with CPP-Disability, make up the Tribunal and they go over all of the evidence you have submitted and the Argument that CPP-Disability has presented. You have a meeting with the Tribunal people and go over it all and can speak with them and answer any questions they might have, etc. at that time.

    Please, please, please, if you are disabled and don’t understand this process of denying you until you reach the Tribunal stage of the process, search for info online about it.

    I do not know the person who runs the below website, but she is a paid CPP-Disability advocate (taking a percentage of any back-pay you get if you win, and nothing, if you lose). Her website is a very valuable place to read about this process and to help people understand what occurs and the lengths CPP-Disability goes to in denying people their rightful disability pension:

    Please understand I do not know the person running this website, so can’t recommend her as an advocate, but her information corresponds with my own research into this. Please read through it and search online for more info regarding this and know that it is common to be denied through all of the Appeals and then win at Tribunal.

    All my best to all of those fighting for their rightful benefits.

    • Hello I am Allison Schmidt and I am pleased to hear that you have found my blog about CPP disability useful and informative If there is anything I can do to help you with your appeal please let me know – depending on what insurance company you are with – they may be willing to assit you with an advocate to help with the appeal. Sandy is right – please do not give up on your appeal.

    • Hopper says:

      Mrs. Schmidt at DCAC, while being a very nice person operates like most lawyers and if she likes your case and thinks she can win she’ll take it, but please know there are many cases they do not wish to take on as well. Advocates, but not for everybody, just winnable cases.

      • I am sorry you feel that way Hopper. I certainly try my very best to make sure I give help and advice to all of the people who contact me and I believe in your situation I did exactly that.

  3. Luc Vermette says:

    you will only qualify for Social Assistance until the age of 65, i hope you know!

  4. Sandy2 says:

    I was on CPP up until about 8 years ago when I was offered a small part-time job from which my CPP disability was then discontinued. My short-term memory is continuously deteriorating due to my condition, so I had to end my job when I was required to take some courses which would’ve been too difficult for me to complete due to the lack of memory that I’m experiencing.

    So then I applied for CPP, with confirmation from 3 doctors – but was denied, and went that next step to appeal that first decision – and to my surprise, was denied again. My doctors were not pleased, but they are suggesting that I do some type of physical work, which my doctors state “is not safe” for me to do. So I was on this plan for a few years, but now when my condition is even worse – I can’t get it no matter how much of a fight I make!

    I’d like to know who is making the decision of whether you’re disabled or not? The letter that I had received, states that it was written by an RN.
    So although all 3 of my doctors state that I should be on it, a simple nurse can correct them by stating that I’m not disabled?

    It frustrates me how we learn of all of the fraudulent financial scams that those guys in government make, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars – but they can’t lend a hand out to us who need it the most!

    We didn’t choose to have these problems – we were born with them!!! …..and I can just imagine how that guy in the wheelchair would also be denied, stating that he could still do business work of some sort!
    My driver’s license was removed about 20 years ago as my condition had progressed….but if you guys at the government don’t think that this is a problem – then give me my driver’s license back!!!

  5. I’m so sorry that you didn’t receive this, but it happened to me too!

    About 15 years ago I had applied for, and started receiving CPP disability, but later found a job for which it got cancelled. ….after a few years, I had to end the job because my condition didn’t allow me to continue working. Then I applied for CPP again, and got that initial letter of denial – which I pretty much expected since I had also heard how most people will get denied the first time around, since they want to weed out as many applicants as they can.

    So then I appealed that first application, with confirmations from THREE doctors. I filled out the applications, got my doctors to fill out their applications, and even attached extra documents of communications from my specialist to my family doctor which stated how I am “completely disabled” by my condition, and that it is “unconscionable and inexcusable” that I am not being granted disability benefits. So with this 2nd application which had plenty of information, I was sure that it’d be granted – again, I got denied!

    I too, thought that you’d have to be totally physically and mentally disabled in order to receive these benefits!

    So what I’ve found is that it is not enough for your doctor to simply state that your condition is “severe and prolonged”. They need to state HOW it disables you from working, and need to fill it right in the application itself. After obtaining copies of the applications that my doctors had filled out, I saw that they merely confirmed my condition.
    So even though I had included more than enough information to confirm my disability, because it was not written IN THE APPLICATION itself – it was not considered as part of the application.

    ….so I am now working on the tribunal stage, with a little more knowledge about what is needed. I hope all of the information that people are offering in their comments will help you if you decide to apply again. Good luck!

  6. Hello. I hope that you have been able to review my website at as it will give you some helpful advice on how to appeal the CPP denial. If there is anything I can do to help please contact me.

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