Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit – After you’ve applied

From: Employment and Social Development Canada


Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, there are changes to this program.

6. After you have applied

It takes approximately 120 days for a decision to be made from the date we receive your application and all the necessary documents. See how disability benefits applications are assessed.

A member of our staff will call you to explain how your application will be processed and the type of information we need from you, and answer any questions you may have.

As we process your application, a member of our staff will call you. Our medical adjudicators may also ask for additional information or ask you to see another doctor who will evaluate your medical condition. When seeking more information, we have very little control over how quickly we receive it.

If more than four months have passed and you have not heard from us and would like to know the status of your application, contact us.

Terminal Illness

Service Canada gives priority to applications from individuals with a terminal illness. Our goal is to make a decision within 5 business days of receiving a complete application by mail or through My Service Canada Account.

When to expect to start receiving disability benefits

If you are eligible under the terms of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) legislation, your disability benefits (disability pension and post-retirement disability benefit) will start the fourth month after the month you are determined to be disabled. You may receive up to a maximum of 12 months of retroactive payments from the date your application was received.

If your application is approved, your monthly payments will be deposited into your account at your financial institution. The account must be in your name. A joint account is also acceptable.

Note: Paying back your retirement pension

If your disability pension is approved, you must pay back the retirement pension payments you received. Normally, we recover the retirement pension payments from your first disability pension payment.

What if I die before my application is received

If you sign your application for disability benefits and Service Canada receives it after you die, your application will be denied.

Your estate and survivors may be eligible to receive CPP benefits after your death.

How applications for disability benefits are assessed

When you submit an application for disability benefits, we must first determine whether you have made sufficient contributions to the CPP over the course of your working life.

If you have enough contributions, your file is then passed on to our medical adjudicators for a medical assessment.

Our medical adjudicators

Our medical adjudicators are trained nurses with extensive knowledge of CPP legislation, regulations, policies and procedures. They receive ongoing training on up-and-coming medical developments to ensure that they understand the complexities of new medical conditions. They are also supported by a group of CPP physicians and specialists who provide advice on complex medical issues.

Your medical assessment

To be eligible for CPP disability benefits, you must have a severe and prolonged medical condition. What is important is how the medical condition and its treatment affect your ability to work at any job on a regular basis. Your condition must be of an indefinite nature or be likely to result in death.

CPP disability benefits are not approved on the basis of a medical diagnosis alone or on the basis of which disability or disease you have.

When determining eligibility, our medical adjudicators consider several factors together, including:

  • the nature and severity of your medical condition;
  • the impact of the medical condition and treatment on your capacity to work;
  • the prognosis;
  • personal characteristics such as age, education and work history; and
  • your work performance, productivity and how much you are earning.

Under CPP legislation, the medical adjudicators do not consider the availability of suitable employment in your region when they determine on your eligibility.

What can I do if I do not agree with a Canada Pension Plan disability decision

If you were told you are not eligible for a CPP disability benefit (disability pension or post-retirement disability benefit), you may request a reconsideration of the decision.

What is a reconsideration

A reconsideration is a new review of your application by the Department. Service Canada staff who were not involved in making the original decision will review your application, as well as any new information supplied by you, or by others on your behalf. Service Canada staff may also seek more medical information on your case. They may ask you to see another doctor. If this happens, the CPP will pay for the doctor's visit and your travel to the doctor if that is necessary.

How do I request a reconsideration

You must make your request for reconsideration in writing within 90 days of receiving the written decision on your application for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.

You may:

  1. complete and submit the Request for Reconsideration of a Canada Pension Plan Disability Decision;
  2. prepare a written request, asking for reconsideration that includes:
    • your name, address, telephone number and Social Insurance Number;
    • a detailed explanation of why you think we should reconsider the decision; and
    • any new information that could affect the decision.

Sign and date your written request and submit it by mail to the return address on the decision letter.

Reconsideration can take several months to complete, depending on the case. Service Canada will re-examine your application and will send the reasons for their decision to you by mail.

If you disagree with the reconsideration decision

If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, the next step is to contact the Social Security Tribunal to appeal.

Find other benefits

There may be more for you than CPP Disability benefits. Use the Benefits Finder to find other Government of Canada, provincial, or territorial benefits.

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