Announcement: Annualized Earnings Exemption (AEE)

The Province announced yesterday that it will implement an Annualized Earnings Exemption (AEE) model in January 2015. This means that the $800 monthly earnings exemption that PWD recipients are eligible for will be calculated over the year ($9,600) rather than the month. This will provide much more flexibility and choice and is a positive change. If you have any questions about this, please call Robin Loxton at 604-872-1278 or 1-800-663-1278.

For more information, please visit this link: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/12/flexibility-helps-people-with-disabilities-earn.html

BCCPD Community Update

CHANGES TO THE CANADA PENSION PLAN DISABILITY APPEAL PROCESS

On April 1st 2013, significant changes were enacted to the Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) appeals process: the Review Tribunal and Pension Appeals Board were replaced by the Social Security Tribunal (SST). This represents a substantial change to the way in which CPP-D appeals will be administered.

The changes are too new for the BCCPD to fully determine how the SST system will work in practice. However, it seems clear that the SST’s rules are more legally complex and narrower than those governing the Review Tribunal.

Under the new system, CPP-D appellants no longer have an automatic right to have their cases heard. The SST has the power to summarily dismiss an appeal without a hearing if it determines the appeal has no reasonable chance of success. As well, the Tribunal can decide the merits of an appeal on the basis of written materials and is not obliged to hold an oral hearing.

This change clearly places a new burden on appellants who will need to provide well thought out and argued written arguments about the merits of their appeal when they file it. Appellants who can effectively articulate their position in writing will have a better chance of having their appeal favourably decided without a formal hearing.

An additional new challenge for appellants is that once they have advised the SST that they are ready to proceed with a hearing, they will not be permitted to file additional documents or submissions in support of their appeal. By contrast, the Review Tribunal would accept additional evidence and submissions up to and including the day of the hearing. Because of this change, it is even more crucial that appellants access all relevant documentation and perfect their submission before submitting their appeal.

BCCPD advocates are monitoring the new system closely and will provide community updates and capacity building workshops over the next year.

If you have any questions about the new SST system please contact Peter Beaudin or Robin Loxton at the BCCPD’s Advocacy Access Program at 604-872-1278 or 1-800-663-1278.

The following is information taken from the Social Security Tribunal’s web site:

http://www.canada.gc.ca/sst-tss/home-accueil-eng.html:

●          Decisions will no longer be made by a three member panel, but by a single adjudicator.

●          The SST has the power to summarily dismiss an appeal without a hearing if it determines the appeal has no reasonable chance of success. This places a new burden on appellants. Under the old system appellants had an automatic right to a hearing. Now appellants must provide enough information to show their appeal has a reasonable chance of success when they file their appeal. If the SST intends to summarily dismiss an appeal, it will advise the appellant of its intentions in writing and give its reasons. The SST will provide the parties with a chance to respond before making a final decision.

●          If an appeal is summarily dismissed, the appellant can file an appeal with the Appeals Division of the SST.

●          If an appeal is not summarily dismissed, the appellant will have up to one year to provide additional information. The SST will not proceed with an appeal until the parties have provided a Notice of Readiness to Proceed. Once this Notice is given, the SST will not accept any additional documents or information.  Under the previous system, new information could be provided on the day of the hearing.

●          After an Appellant has provided a Notice of Readiness, the SST will decide how it will proceed. It might hold an oral hearing. This can be done over the phone, in person, or by video conference.

●          If an oral hearing is held, the SST will not provide a translator. Appellants must make arrangements for a translator who will be required to swear they are proficient in the language of the Hearing. Unlike the previous Tribunal, the SST will not automatically reimburse appellants for costs associated with attendance at the hearing. Appellants must make a special application if they wish to be reimbursed for expenses.

●          The SST does not have to hold an oral hearing. It may write to the parties and ask them to provide written answers to questions it might have. After receiving a response the SST may make a decision based on the written record.

●          If a party is not satisfied with a decision they can seek leave to appeal to the SST’s Appeal Division. Unlike a summary dismissal decision, the right to appeal a formal decision is not automatic. The criteria that the Appeal Division uses are similar to the ones that the Pension Appeals Board used to apply. If leave to appeal is granted, the parties will have 45 days to provide any new information or argument. A Tribunal Member will then decide if a hearing is required or if a new decision can be made based on the written record.

Important Changes to CPP-D Appeals

As of April 1, 2013, all CPP Disability appeals that are before the Review Tribunal were transferred to the new Social Security Tribunal. A letter will be sent to all appellants advising them of the new Tribunal’s procedures.

Over the next few months, BCCPD will be working on producing materials on the new Social Security Tribunal.