Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Canada Pension Plan disability General Division: Your reasons for appealing

If you agree with everything in Service Canada’s reconsideration decision, there’s no reason to appeal. If you disagree with the decision, even just a part of it, you can appeal to the General Division of the Social Security Tribunal (SST).

You have 90 days to appeal after you receive the reconsideration decision.

If you appeal, then change your mind, you can contact us to withdraw (cancel) your appeal. If you do this, Service Canada’s reconsideration decision will remain in place.

Let’s look at common scenarios for appealing to the General Division.

Generally, people want to appeal a reconsideration decision because they feel that the decision was unfair and that they’re actually eligible for benefits.

When you appeal to the General Division, you need to give details. For example, if you think you actually meet the eligibility requirements for benefits, you need to tell us how you meet those requirements. Or, if you think Service Canada didn’t follow the law correctly, you need to tell us how.

This is what we mean when we talk about explaining your “reasons to appeal.” You’ll also need to send us documents to support those reasons.

Here are some examples of things the General Division can make a decision on:

Scenario 1

Alex has serious health problems that prevent them from working. They applied for a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability pension. Service Canada decided not to pay them a pension. It said that they didn’t go to all the therapy sessions that the doctor recommended.

The law says that you should do everything possible to get better. This includes following your doctor’s recommendations.

If Alex decides to appeal, they can explain why they could not go to all the therapy sessions and what they did try to do to get better.

We can decide whether Alex did all they could to get better and return to work, and whether Alex will get the CPP disability pension.

Scenario 2

Darya can’t work because of her disability, so she applied for a CPP disability pension. Service Canada decided not to pay her a pension. It agrees that she may not be able to do her usual work. But it says that she should be able to do some type of work (full-time, part-time, or seasonal) that is “substantially gainful.” This means that she could earn a living from her work.

If Darya decides to appeal, she can explain why she’s not able to do other types of work. She can show the General Division all the different jobs she did try to do but wasn’t able to. This includes some jobs she didn’t tell Service Canada about. 

We can decide whether Darya is able to do work and earn a living, and whether Darya will get the CPP disability pension.

Here are some examples of situations where the General Division can’t help you:

Scenario 1

David was getting a CPP disability pension for many years. On his 65th birthday, Service Canada converted his CPP disability pension to a CPP retirement pension. He doesn’t think that’s fair because he’s still disabled and will never get better. So he wants to appeal to the General Division.

The law says that when you turn 65, you can’t get CPP disability anymore. It ends, and it gets automatically replaced by a CPP retirement pension.

We can’t change the law. We don’t have the authority to tell Service Canada to continue paying David a CPP disability pension after he turned 65.

Scenario 2

Abby applied for a CPP disability pension in August 2020. Service Canada approved her application and decided to pay her a pension retroactively starting in September 2019. That's the maximum retroactivity possible. Abby thinks her payments should start before that because of her personal circumstances. Her concern is that she needs the extra money.

The law says that when you apply for a CPP disability pension, you may be considered disabled 15 months before you apply. This is called your “deemed date of disability.” The law also says that you can start getting a CPP disability pension only 4 months after your deemed date of disability. So if Service Canada decides to pay you a pension retroactively, they can go back a maximum of 11 months.

We can’t make exceptions to the law. We can’t tell Service Canada to start Abby’s payments before September 2019 so she can have more money. 

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