Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Other Canada Pension Plan Appeal Division: Getting permission to appeal

If you agree with everything in the General Division decision, there’s no reason to appeal. If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal, but first you’ll need to get permission to appeal from the Appeal Division. The Appeal Division can only grant permission for specific reasons.

To get permission you have to have a reasonable argument based on at least 1 of the following:

Or, you have to set out evidence that the General Division didn’t have.

Criteria to get permission to appeal

The criteria for getting permission to appeal are set out in section 58.1 of the Department of Employment and Social Development Act opens a new window.

The legal wording for the criteria is technical. The Appeal Division member has to follow the wording of the law, interpret it, and apply it to your situation.

Here’s the legal wording for each of the criteria with a plain language explanation. Examples are provided, but they don’t cover every possible scenario.

The General Division didn’t follow a fair process

Legal wording The General Division failed to observe a principle of natural justice.
Plain language wording The General Division didn’t follow a fair process.

What’s natural justice?

Natural justice is about fair process. This includes things like the right to see all the evidence, the right to make your case, and the right to an impartial (unbiased) decision-maker.

Here are examples of mistakes the General Division could make:

Example: You didn’t get all the documents

The General Division didn’t give Rachael copies of all of the documents Service Canada used to make its reconsideration decision or that it gave the SST for the hearing.

Example: The hearing happened without you

The General Division held a hearing, but Imani didn’t get a Notice of Hearing telling her about it.

The General Division acted beyond its powers or didn’t exercise its powers

Legal wording The General Division acted beyond or refused to exercise its jurisdiction.
Plain language wording The General Division dealt with an issue it didn’t have the power to deal with. Or it didn’t deal with an issue it was supposed to deal with.

What’s jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction is the SST’s legal power (authority) to deal with a dispute or issue. There are some things the SST has the power to decide, and some things it doesn’t.

Here are examples of mistakes the General Division could make:

Example: The General Division didn’t decide an issue under appeal

Service Canada decided that Jimin wasn’t entitled to a survivor’s pension or death benefit, after his partner died. Jimin appealed to the General Division. The General Division decided that Jimin would get the survivor’s pension. But the General Division didn’t make any decision at all about whether Jimin should get the death benefit. That was an error of jurisdiction. The General Division had to decide both issues that Jimin had properly appealed.

Example: The General Division made a decision about writing off money owed

The General Division decided that Greta should not have to pay money she owes because she doesn’t have that money. The General Division said the amount should be written off. The General Division can’t decide that. That’s up to the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada to decide.

The General Division got the law wrong, or it got the facts wrong, or it made an error of mixed law and fact

Legal wording The General Division erred in law, in fact, or in mixed law and fact in making its decision.
Plain language wording The General Division didn’t interpret or apply the law correctly or it got the facts wrong.

What’s an error of law?

An error of law happens when the General Division:

  • makes a decision using part of the legislation (laws from Parliament) that doesn’t actually apply to your situation
  • makes a decision using an interpretation of case law (established law from a court or tribunal) that doesn’t apply to your situation
  • doesn’t apply the correct law
  • uses the correct law, but misunderstands what it means

Here’s an example of a mistake the General Division could make:

Example: The General Division used the wrong legal test

Alex and Kim lived together as common-law partners for a long time, but they separated just before Kim died. A Canada Pension Plan (CPP) survivor pension is usually for the person who’s your spouse or common-law partner when you die. The law explains how to determine whether people are common-law partners. The General Division used a different set of requirements when considering whether Alex and Kim were common-law partners when Kim died. This is an error of law.

What’s an error of fact?

The General Division has to review and consider all the evidence before deciding what facts it accepts. This is called “finding the facts” or “making a finding of fact.” When the General Division makes a finding of fact that’s important to its decision, but ignores or misunderstands evidence about that fact, that’s an error of fact.

Here are examples of mistakes the General Division could make:

Example: The General Division mixed up important dates

The General Division decided that Jamal turned 60 years old on May 6, 1996, and decided he was entitled to a CPP retirement pension as of 1996. But the document the General Division relied on to make that decision says that he turned 60 years old in 1997. The General Division mixed up important dates on file. That’s an error of fact.

What’s an error of mixed law and fact?

An error of mixed law and fact happens when the General Division uses the correct law, but doesn’t apply it properly to the facts of your case.

Here’s an example of a mistake the General Division could make: 

Example: The General Division didn’t correctly apply the law to the facts

Stefan and Julia unofficially adopted their grandson Adrian in 2014. After Stefan’s death, Julia applied for the orphan benefit for Adrian. The General Division decided that, since Adrian’s mom was still alive, he could not receive benefits under the CPP. The General Division should have recognized that he was entitled to benefits since Stefan had unofficially adopted Adrian.

You have evidence the General Division didn’t have

Legal wording Evidence that was not presented to the General Division.
Plain language wording You have a new document or new testimony that the General Division didn’t have.

Example: A document the General Division didn’t have

Elias found his marriage certificate that he didn’t send in for his General Division appeal because he couldn’t find it in time and had lost hope of finding it.

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