More Canadians seeking CPP disability benefits have denials overturned on appeal

June 6, 2017
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

Nearly half the Canadians who seek to have decisions denying them access to Canada Pension Plan disability benefits are successfully appealing the rulings – a statistic that is giving experts cause for concern.

The figures illustrate what has happened in the year since Canada's auditor general excoriated the government for its handling of CPP disability appeals, which provides stipends to Canadians who are unable to work due to disability.

Michael Ferguson's February 2016 report on the $4-billion disability benefits system found that some one-third of applicants who were originally denied benefits were later found to be eligible, based on the initial evidence.

Two-thirds of those who took their appeal to the social security tribunal ended up winning, raising questions about why they were denied in the first place.

Figures provided to The Canadian Press show that in the last fiscal year, which closed at the end of March, 44.5 per cent of appeals were upheld when federal officials took a second look at the files – an increase from the figures identified in Ferguson's report, which examined a longer period of time.

Among those that took their case to the tribunal, about 45 per cent ended up being successful between April 2016 and March 2017, based on data provided by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Experts involved in the system say the data suggest there is an adjudication issue within the department that the federal government needs to address.

"That tells me the adjudication process is seriously flawed," said Allison Schmidt, a Regina-based pension disability case manager and a vocal critic of the system.

Read more: More Canadians seeking CPP disability benefits have denials overturned on appeal