Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Other Canada Pension Plan 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 mention 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

Tatyana applied for a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) survivor’s pension when her common-law partner, George, died. Service Canada denied her application because it said that she wasn’t living with George when he died. She feels that they were still in a common-law relationship even though George was living somewhere else at the time. There were special circumstances that forced George to move out for a short while.

Common-law partners can get a CPP survivor’s pension. To be considered a common-law partner, you have to have been “cohabiting” for at least a year when the contributor dies. Cohabiting isn’t just about living in the same place.

If Tatyana decides to appeal, she can explain why George had temporarily moved out. She can show the things they did that prove they were still a couple even though they were physically separated.

We’ll look at Tatyana’s appeal and decide whether George and Tatyana were in a common-law relationship and whether Tatyana is entitled to the CPP survivor’s pension.

Scenario 2

Julie’s mother passed away without a will. Robert applied for the CPP death benefit. In his application to Service Canada, Robert said that he was the common-law partner of Julie’s late mother. He also said that he was responsible for the funeral expenses. He sent Service Canada a bill showing that he paid for all the funeral expenses. Service Canada decided to pay the death benefit to Robert.

Julie also applied for the death benefit. In her application, she said that she was the court-appointed administrator of her late mother’s estate. Julie thinks Service Canada should have paid her the death benefit so she could reimburse the estate, rather than Robert.

We’ll look at Julie’s appeal and decide who’s entitled to the CPP death benefit.

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

Scenario 1

Beth applied for a CPP retirement pension when she turned 60. Service Canada approved her application and started paying her pension the month after it received her application. Beth is getting $465.22 a month, and she thinks she should get more. She says she can’t live on such a small pension.

The law says that your CPP retirement pension is based on your contributions to CPP while you were working.

The General Division member assigned to Beth’s appeal notices that the facts aren’t in dispute (Beth and Service Canada agree on the amount of money Beth paid into CPP while she was working).

We can’t change the law. We don’t have the authority to tell Service Canada to pay Beth more money.

Scenario 2

Puneet applied for a CPP survivor’s pension in January 2021. Service Canada approved his application and decided to pay him benefits retroactively starting in February 2020. Puneet thinks his payments should start the month his wife died in December 2019. He didn’t apply for a survivor’s pension earlier because he found it too difficult to deal with her loss.

The law says that your survivor’s pension can start 11 months before Service Canada got your application. The payments can’t go back any further unless the General Division member had decided that Puneet was unable to form or express an intention to make an application earlier.

We can’t make exceptions to the law. We can’t tell Service Canada to start Puneet’s payments the month his wife died because that’s more than 11 months before Service Canada got his application.

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