All about CPP Disability Benefits

Today we’re sharing a primer on CPP disability benefits: what are they, who’s eligible, how much you could receive, how to apply and what happens if your application is rejected.

What are CPP disability benefits?

The CPP disability benefit is a monthly payment for people under 65 who are prevented from working because of a long-term disability.

For people ages 60 to 65, there is CPP post-retirement disability benefit that’s available in certain circumstances.

If you receive the CPP disability benefit and have dependent children, they may also be able to get a monthly payment. In this case, dependent children are those who are under the age of 18, or between 18 and 25 years old and in a recognized school or university full-time.

The benefits begin after you’ve been off work for 17 weeks. You may have been receiving the EI Sickness benefits up until that point.

Who is eligible?

There are several components to CPP disability eligibility: age, CPP contributions and disability.

Age & CPP contributions: People up to the age of 65 who have contributed to the CPP:

  • in four of the last six years OR
  • in three of the last six years if you have contributed for at least 25 years

There are some other circumstances that would help you qualify:

  • credit splitting with a spouse you’re separated or divorced from
  • previous work outside Canada
  • time when you worked less to care for your children
  • if there is a gap between when you stopped working and when you applied for disability benefits
  • if you were incapacitated and could not apply

Disability: You can apply if you meet the age and contribution criteria and you have severe and prolonged mental or physical disability that prevents you from doing any type of substantially gainful work on a regular basis. That means any work, not just the work you did before your disability.

You can apply even if you are already receiving private disability benefits. In fact, some private insurers will insist that you apply for CPP disability and adjust your private benefits accordingly.

How much will my payments be? 

The more you’ve paid into CPP, the higher your payment will be.

  • CPP disability: Monthly payments start with a basic payment amount, which was $505.79 in 2020. Then, an additional amount, which is based on how much you paid into CPP, is added to the basic payment. In 2020, the maximum total payment was $1387.66 per month.
  • CPP post-retirement benefits: $505.79 in 2020.
  • CPP children’s benefits: $255.03 per month in 2020.

In some cases, you may be eligible for a one-time lump-sum retroactive payment.

It’s also important to note that CPP disability payments are a taxable benefit.

How do I apply?

It’s important to apply right away, but take your time to prepare the Application Form properly.

It’s critical that you have support from your doctor or nurse practitioner, because they will also need to complete a Medical Form. Submit your Application Form right away, even if the Medical Form isn’t ready.

You can apply online using your My Service Canada account.

If you’re submitting a paper application, make sure that you keep copies of everything that you submit.

How long will I wait to find out if I’ve been approved?

Once they have received your application and other required documents, it typically takes about 4 months for Service Canada to approve or deny your application.

Service Canada gives priority processing to people with terminal illness (5 business days) or grave conditions (30 calendar days).

When they’ve received your application, Service Canada will call you. They will call you again with a decision or to ask for more information. Finally, they will send you a letter with a final decision.

You can check the status of your application online. If it takes a lot longer than the typical timeframe and you’re having trouble making progress with Service Canada, you can file a complaint with the Office for Client Satisfaction.

My application was rejected – can I appeal a denied application?

Yes, you can appeal a denied application. In fact, about half of CPP disability applications are denied the first time. It is definitely worth the effort to appeal the decision.

There are several levels of appeal. We’ll be sharing more information on appealing a denied CPP disability application in an upcoming post.