On top of other benefits that may be available to you if you’ve been injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, or slip and fall, you may be entitled to Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits.
The CPP disability benefit is a monthly payment you could be receiving from the Government of Canada if you are:
- under 65 years old;
- have made enough contributions to CPP during your working life* and;
- you are unable to work because of a severe and prolonged mental or physical disability.
* If you have worked for an employer in the past, these contributions are usually deducted from your paycheque automatically.
What is a Severe Disability?
According to the CPP Legislation, a disability is considered severe if it prevents you from pursuing a regular and substantially gainful occupation. In other words, if you are incapable of doing any type of paid work, your disability could be severe.
While there are some standard measures required by the law, each situation is judged on its own merit, and your age, education level, language capacities, and past work and life experience will be taken into consideration as well.
The real-world approach is also very important to take into consideration. They must consider whether or not an employer would consider employing you given all of your difficulties.
What is a Prolonged Disability?
A disability is considered to be prolonged only if it is likely to be of long or indefinite duration, or if the condition is terminal.
If your medical condition is expected to be short-term or temporary, you will not be eligible for CPP disability benefits. Also, if you are undergoing an active treatment plan which may lead to reasonable recovery, your application may be denied.
If that’s the case, you may be eligible for other benefits such as Employment Insurance sickness benefits.
How much could you receive?
The basic payment amount for CPP disability is $558.74 in 2023 and will be adjusted based on how much you paid into the pension plan while you worked.
The average amount received in CPP disability benefits is $1,078.07 in 2023 and the maximum amount in 2023 is $1,538.67.
The disability benefit amounts are reviewed every January to reflect changes in the cost of living; however, your monthly benefit amount will not decrease if the cost of living goes down.
You can earn up to a certain amount of income per year without it affecting your disability benefits. For 2023, this amount is $6,600 (before taxes).
Keep in mind that the federal government will not pay for medications or medical devices even if you are receiving CPP disability benefits. You should contact your province or territory if you need financial help for medication or medical devices.
We recommend that you submit your application as soon as you stop working, as they can only go back 15 months from the date of the application for retroactive payments.
You can submit your online application using this link. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will then need to submit a medical form as well.
It can take up to 120 days (4 months) for a decision to be made from the date your complete application and all required documents have been received.
What if my application is denied?
If your application is denied, you have 90 days to request a review. Your application will then be reviewed by someone who was not involved in making the initial decision.
If your application is denied a second time, you need to appeal to the Social Security Tribunal of Canada, which is an independent administrative tribunal, within 90 days from the date you receive the reconsideration decision. One of our lawyers and Partners, Mathieu Picard, is a former member of the Social Security Tribunal.
If your CPP disability application has been denied and if you need help handling a reconsideration or appeal to the Social Security Tribunal, contact our Fidelis disability lawyers today.
If you want to learn more about CPP disability, you can read the following case law:
The Federal Court of Appeal in Villani v. Canada (Attorney General), 2001 FCA 248, established that any disability that prevents you from pursuing work on a consistent frequency is to be considered as severe. The judge added that your age, education level, language capacities and past work and life experience are to be taken into consideration as well.
If a possible date of return to work is uncertain, the disability can still be considered as « prolonged ». This principle arose from a decision from the Pension Appeals Board, MNH&W v Lauzon,  #9202 CCH.