Q - How do I qualify for the CPP disability benefit?
To qualify for CPP disability benefit you must:
- Be under age 65, and
- Have stopped working because of your disability, and
- Have made enough contributions to CPP when you worked.
Q - What does the term 'disability' mean?
You will only qualify for the CPP disability benefit if you meet all the conditions in the CPP legislation. The CPP definition of disability says that your health problems must:
- be ‘severe’ and ‘prolonged’, and
- stop you from working at any job on a regular basis.
Your disability may be mental or physical or both.
Under the CPP legislation a ‘severe’ disability is one which stops you from doing your former job, or any other job, on a regular basis. A ‘prolonged’ disability is one which is:
- likely to be long term,
- of indefinite duration, or
- likely to result in death.
CPP medical adjudicators will review your application and supporting medical information (for example, medical reports from your family doctor and/or specialist) to decide whether your disability is severe and prolonged. You will find more information about the meaning of severe and prolonged at www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/isp/cpp/severe.shtml
Q - Do I need to have contributed to CPP in order to get the disability benefit?
Yes. To qualify for a disability benefit you must have made enough contributions, and have contributed to CPP in:
- four (4) of the last six (6) years, or
- three (3) of the last six (6) years if you made CPP contributions for at least 25 years before you became disabled.
If you are not sure if you have made enough contributions, or made contributions during the required time period, contact Service Canada toll free at 1 800 277-9914.
Q - What if I do not meet the eligibility criteria?
If you do not meet all of the eligibility criteria you may still be able to qualify for a disability benefit. You should visit the Service Canada website at www.servicecanada.gc.ca or contact them at 1 800 277-9914 for more information.
Q - Will I still be eligible for CPP disability if I get disability income from another source?
Yes. Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria will receive the CPP disability benefit. It does not matter if you receive disability income from another source, such as income assistance or private insurance.
However, these other payments may be adjusted if you are approved for a CPP disability benefit.
For example, the amount you receive from CPP disability will affect the amount you receive from income assistance (that is, social assistance or welfare). You may not be eligible for income assistance at all, or your payment may be reduced. You may have to pay back income assistance you got while you were eligible for CPP disability. You should contact your income assistance program for more information. Contact Nova Scotia Community Services, Income Assistance at 1 877 424-1177, gov.ns.ca/coms/department/contact/index.html, or look under ‘Community Services’ in the government section of the phone book.
If you receive income from private insurance, contact your insurer for information about whether CPP benefits will affect your insurance payments.
Q - How do I apply for the CPP disability benefit?
You must fill out a written application and mail it to your nearest Service Canada office.
You can get the application for CPP disability benefits:
- online from Service Canada; or
- call Service Canada at 1 800 277-9914 to have the application forms sent to you by mail.
Q - How long will it take to get a decision on my application?
For most applications eligibility is decided within 4 months. It may take longer if CPP needs more information.
If you are terminally ill your application will get priority, and will usually be reviewed within 48 hours after CPP gets your application.
Q - How much is CPP disability pension?
As of January 2012 the average monthly benefit was $843.27. The most money you can receive from CPP (combined survivor/disability benefits or disability benefit alone) each month in 2012 is $1185.50.
The benefit includes:
- a fixed amount that everyone receives ($445.50 a month for 2012), and
- an ‘earnings-related’ amount based on how much you contributed to CPP during your entire working career.
The CPP disability benefit amount is adjusted every January to take into account any change in the cost of living based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Q - What if I receive a CPP disability benefit and have children?
A dependent child under 18 years of age, or a child who is between 18 and 25 and who is going to school full time, can receive $224.62 a month, if at least one of the child’s parents is getting a CPP disability benefit. Applications for child’s benefits are included in the application kit (see ‘How do I apply for the CPP disability benefit’).
Q - Is the CPP disability benefit taxable?
Yes. The CPP disability benefit is taxable. Contact Service Canada for more information. There is also Disability Tax Credit. It is a non-refundable tax credit that can reduce tax you have to pay, if you meet the eligibility requirements. For more information about the Disability Tax Credit contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) toll free at 1 800 959-8281 or visit the CRA website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/disability/
Q - When does the CPP disability benefit stop?
The benefit stops if:
- you get better to the point where you can work at any job on a regular basis, or
- you turn 65, or
- you die.
Q - What can I do if my application for CPP disability benefit is turned down?
If your application is turned down, you have a right to ask that the decision be reviewed. There are 3 review or 'appeal' levels, and you must start at the first level. You are not required to have a lawyer. However, CPP disability appeals can be very complex, so you may choose to have a lawyer or other advocate represent you at any stage.
Level 1 - Reconsideration
- ask Service Canada to reconsider the decision
- you must do this in writing, within 90 days of getting your decision letter.
Level 2 – Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals
- if you are not successful at the reconsideration level, you can appeal to the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals
- you must do this in writing, within 90 days of getting your reconsideration decision letter from Service Canada.
Level 3 – Pension Appeals Board
- if you are not successful at the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals, you can ask for leave (permission) to appeal to the Pension Appeals Board
- you must do this in writing, within 90 days of getting your decision letter from the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals.
Judicial Review – Federal Court of Appeal:
Finally, if you do not get leave to appeal to the Pension Appeals Board, or if you are unsuccessful at the Pension Appeals Board, you can ask for a judicial review of the Pension Appeals Board decision. You have 30 days from the decision date to do this. You should get legal advice from a lawyer if you are considering a judicial review to the Federal Court of Appeal.
For more information: