Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits recipients

The Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program is a voluntary program that helps Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit recipients return to work.

If you are receiving a CPP disability benefit, you may be eligible for vocational counseling, financial support for training, and job-search services.

While you participate in the program, you continue to receive your regular CPP disability benefit, including while you search for a job.

In the past, many people receiving benefits because of a severe and prolonged disability believed that they were permanently out of the workforce. Now, new technologies, medical treatments and skills training are making it possible for some people with severe disabilities to re-enter the workforce.

Can I participate in the program?

You can participate in the Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program if:

  • you are receiving a CPP disability benefit;
  • you are willing and able to participate in the program;
  • you are motivated;
  • you are likely to return to work through the assistance of this program; and
  • your medical condition is stable.

How can this program help me?

This program can help you:

  • return to your former job with your former employer;
  • return to a modified version of your former job;
  • work at a different job with your former employer using your current or newly acquired skills;
  • work at a different job with any employer using your current or newly acquired skills;
  • be retrained for a job through skills or education upgrading; or
  • gain skills for self-employment.

What services are included in the program?

The Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program can include, but is not limited to, any number of the following services:

  • Employment counselling and guidance – You will receive one-on-one guidance to identify your needs, assess your education and current job skills, discuss your work goals and find out about the current job market in your area. With help from a vocational rehabilitation specialist, you will learn about the skills that employers are looking for, or look at opportunities for self-employment.
  • Planning your return to work – A vocational rehabilitation specialist will work with you to develop an individualized return-to-work rehabilitation plan in consultation with your treating doctor or nurse practitioner. You, Service Canada, your health care professional and your vocational rehabilitation specialist must all sign this plan, which will be your contract with the CPP.
  • Improving your skills/retraining – If you need to improve your skills, upgrade your education or retrain to secure a job, the CPP may cover the costs.
  • Developing job-search skills – After you complete your work-related rehabilitation, your vocational rehabilitation specialist will help you find work. For example, with your specialist's help, you can:
    • find out where the jobs are;
    • prepare a résumé;
    • join a job-finding club to practice your interview skills; and
    • develop strategies to get interviews or identify organizations that might hire you.

Who will help me with my return to work?

We work with partners, such as health care professionals, workers' compensation boards, private insurance companies and other service providers, to help you plan your return to work.

How will my CPP disability benefit be affected?

You will continue to receive your regular CPP disability benefit while you participate in the program. At the end of the upgrading or retraining process, your vocational rehabilitation specialist will help you look for a job, and your benefit will continue during this period.

How do I get started?

To participate in this program, contact the Canada Pension Plan.

What happens if my disability recurs and I can no longer continue working?

If your disability recurs within two years and you can't continue working, you can ask to have your benefits automatically restarted without having to go through the usual reapplication process. If your children are still eligible, their benefits will also be restarted.

If your disability recurs after you have been working for more than two years and up to five years, you may be eligible for a fast-track reapplication. This is a simpler and faster process than filing a new application. Contact the Canada Pension Plan for more information and to request an application form.

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