Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit - Eligibility

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

2. Eligibility

To qualify for a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit, you must

What if I have a terminal illness?

If you have a terminal illness, complete the terminal illness application for a disability benefit under the Canada Pension Plan and ask your treating doctor or nurse practitioner to complete the terminal illness medical attestation. A decision on your disability application will be made within 5 business days of receiving a complete terminal illness application, including the terminal illness medical attestation.

For the purposes of CPP, a terminal medical condition is a disease state that cannot be cured or adequately treated and is reasonably expected to result in death within six (6) months.

Learn more about Canada Pension Plan benefits after a death.

If you are eligible for more than one CPP benefit

If you are eligible for both a CPP survivor's benefit and a disability pension, they will be combined into a single monthly payment. However, the combined amount you receive cannot be greater than the maximum CPP disability pension, which is more than the maximum CPP survivor's benefit.

What if I am receiving a disability income from another source?

If you are receiving disability income from other sources, such as a private insurer or a provincial social assistance program, you may still be eligible to receive the CPP disability benefit. However, these other sources may adjust their payments if you are approved for CPP disability benefits.

Contact your insurance company or social assistance program for details relating to your particular case.

Contribution requirements to be eligible for disability benefits

To qualify for CPP disability benefits, you must have contributed to the CPP in:

  • four of the last six years; or
  • three of the last six years if you have contributed for at least 25 years.

Find out more about your own CPP contributions and their importance.

Note: Quebec residents

The CPP operates throughout Canada, except in Quebec, where the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) provides similar benefits. The CPP and QPP work together to ensure that all contributors are protected, no matter where they live. QPP disability benefits apply to you if:

  • you have worked only in the province of Quebec
  • you currently live in Quebec and have worked both in the province of Quebec and in another province or territory; or
  • you have worked in Quebec, currently live outside Canada and your last province of residence was Quebec.

What if I had periods when I didn't contribute to the CPP?

There are certain provisions that may help you qualify for CPP disability benefits if one or more of the following conditions apply to you:

I stayed at home and raised my children

If you had zero or low earnings because you were the primary caregiver raising your children, the child-rearing provision could help you qualify for CPP disability benefits.

I applied too late for a CPP disability benefit

If you are applying for a CPP disability benefit but stopped working so long ago that you are now too late to apply but you meet all the other conditions of eligibility, you may still be eligible for a benefit. This is called the late applicant provision

You may be eligible if:

  • you had enough years of CPP contributions when you first became severely disabled; and
  • you have been continuously disabled (as defined by CPP legislation) from that date up to the present time.

Contact Canada Pension Plan for more information.

I am separated or divorced

The CPP contributions you and your spouse or common-law partner made during the time you lived together may be equally divided after a divorce or a separation. This may help you qualify for CPP disability benefits. Find out more about credit splitting for divorced or separated couples.

I lived and worked in another country

If you lived and worked in a country other than Canada, the credits you accumulated in that country may help you qualify for CPP disability benefits. Find out more on the Lived or living outside Canada web page.

I was physically or mentally unable to apply

If you were physically or mentally incapable of forming or expressing the intent to make an application for CPP disability benefits, and you were also incapable of asking someone else to apply on your behalf, you should request the incapacity provision. You must apply within a year after you regained your capacity. Contact Canada Pension Plan for more information.

Not applicable to you?

Are CPP Disability benefits not applicable to you? Use the Benefits Finder to find other Government of Canada, provincial, or territorial benefits.

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