If you’re heading into a CPP disability appeal without representation, you might feel worried. There are all sorts of terms and processes that you don’t understand. Research and reading online can only take you so far. Luckily, the Social Security Tribunal offers a Navigator service for those who don’t have a lawyer.
In this article, as part of our Ultimate Guide to CPP Disability, I will explain this service, who it’s for, and discuss some of the pros and cons.
This article will be helpful for you if you’re early on in the CPP disability process. Personally, I didn’t know anything about it until David mentioned it to me.
Similarly, if you don’t already know about this service, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t learn about it until you need it. Wouldn’t it be nice to know your options sooner than that? Unfortunately, the information is buried on the Government of Canada website. If you haven’t heard the term “navigator” before, you likely wouldn’t click on the link that says “Navigator!”
So, I hope this information reaches people and raises awareness about the CPP disability navigator service. Let’s get into it!
What is a CPP Disability Navigator?
A navigator is a Social Security Tribunal employee who knows a lot about the appeal process. If your application for CPP disability benefits has been denied at the Reconsideration level, you can move on to the Social Security Tribunal. CPP disability navigators are available to help you at the General Division and Appeal Division of the SST.
Essentially, a navigator is just a free support person that you have access to if you’re pursuing a CPP disability appeal. They can support you and answer general questions you have about hearings or questions about preparing for a hearing.
But they aren’t a lawyer. So, they can’t give you legal advice. They won’t help you prepare any submissions or attend your hearing. And, they must remain neutral — they are still technically employed by the Tribunal, after all.
👉 Are you doing your own Social Security Tribunal hearing? Check out our article:
CPP Tribunal Hearing: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Representing Yourself
Who can get one?
Navigators are available to anyone who doesn’t already have professional representation. You must be appealing a CPP disability decision at the General Division or the Appeals Division.
You don’t have to apply for a navigator or request one. If you are eligible for one, Service Canada will let you know once you have been given permission to appeal.
CPP Disability Navigator: Pros
In my opinion, despite its limitations, this is still a really helpful service that is being offered. For plenty of people, hiring a lawyer is almost as scary as doing the appeal itself. If you’re not quite ready to make that big decision, a navigator can offer you a good amount of support.
Using this service doesn’t mean you can’t ever seek representation. If the navigator isn’t helping you as much as you’d like, or in the ways that you need, you can still hire a lawyer. Once you hire a lawyer, however, you can no longer access the navigator.
CPP Disability Navigator: Cons
Navigators don’t replace legal help or representatives. Often, clients of ours find appeals stressful, potentially worsening the symptoms of their disability. We know from experience that it’s not always easy to handle an appeal when you’re also living with your disability.
The role of the navigator is pretty limited. While they can lessen your stress by explaining how hearings work and how you need to prepare, they can’t do the heavy lifting for you.
Finally, they don’t have specific resources or referrals if you eventually decide to seek out a lawyer. They will only refer you to Legal Aid or similar organizations. These aren’t bad recommendations by any means, but it’s not like they’re handing you the business card of an experienced disability lawyer.
Next Steps — Get our free CPP book
Of course, there are more ways to get information about the appeal process.
Start making better decisions today. Click on the image below to request an instant download of our free Book.