CPP disability is an income replacement benefit program run by Service Canada. It pays monthly benefits to eligible people. To qualify, you must meet age, contribution, and disability requirements. I wrote this guide to explain how CPP disability works.
With this information, you can figure out if you qualify for benefits and learn what steps you should take next.
What is CPP Disability?
CPP disability is an income replacement benefit program. It is administered by Service Canada and pays disability benefits to eligible people. To qualify for CPP Disability, you must meet age, contribution, and disability requirements. You apply by sending an application to Service Canada. Then, they review your claim and either approve or deny it. If approved, you get a monthly payment. These payments can go to age 65.
The CPP Disability Benefit
The CPP disability benefit is a monthly payment from Service Canada. There are two types of payments: The first kind of payment is the regular CPP Disability benefit. It is the most common. The payments fall between $558.74 and $1,538.67 per month. The amount depends on how much you paid into the Canada Pension Plan. Additionally, the payments go up each year at the rate of inflation.
The second is the post-retirement benefit. However, this benefit is only for those aged 60 and over who already receive the CPP retirement benefit.
|Benefit Name||Age||Requirements||Payment ranges (2023)|
|CPP Disability Benefit||Under age 65||Not getting the CPP Retirement Pension||$558.74 – $1,538.67|
|CPP Disability Post Retirement Benefit||Age 60 to 65||Already getting the CPP retirement pension. Or became disabled after starting the CPP retirement pension||$558.74 (fixed amount)|
The CPP Disability Children’s Benefit
The CPP disability children’s benefit is also a monthly payment. Service Canada pays it to the children of people approved for CPP disability. However, eligibility is still based on the parent’s disability. If approved, each child gets $281.72 per month. This benefit is paid to the child’s primary caregiver. If they are between 18 and 25 and enrolled in school, then the child may receive the payment.
How to Know If You Are Eligible for CPP Disability Benefits
Not everyone is eligible for benefits. So, we will review the requirements for each benefit below. We included criteria for the regular CPP disability benefits. We also share eligibility for the post-retirement benefit and the children’s benefit.
There are four main requirements for CPP: age, contributions; severe disability; and prolonged disability.
The age requirement is very simple. So, for regular CPP disability, you must be under the age of 65. For the post-retirement benefit, you must be aged 60 to 65. And finally, for the children’s benefit, the child must be under the age of 18, or between 18 and 25 and enrolled in school.
On the other hand, the contribution requirement is more difficult to understand. It’s not enough to have paid into the Canada Pension Plan. Your disability onset date must also happen when you had recent payments into the CPP. You must have paid in 4 of the last six years. Alternatively, if you have 25 years or more of contributions, you must have paid for 3 of the last five years. This is called the minimum qualifying period.
Severe disability has a very specific meaning. That is to say, you have a mental or physical disability that stops you from doing substantially gainful work. In other words, the focus is on your ability to work. Your personal characteristics, like age, education, and work experience, are all taken into account. The ultimate question your insurance company wants to answer is whether you are employable. That is, in the “real world,” not just on paper.
Prolonged disability also has a specific definition. It means that your disability must be long and of indefinite duration or be likely to result in death. So, a severe disability (that isn’t prolonged) will not qualify.
Additional requirements for the Post-Retirement Benefit
As the name suggests, this is only for people receiving the CPP retirement benefit. And you can only get it if you have been getting retirement payments for more than 15 months. If it has been less than 15 months, you can ‘convert the CPP retirement pension to the CPP disability benefit.’ You should always do this if you can because getting the regular disability benefit will raise your retirement payment at age 65.
Additional requirements for the Children’s Benefit
The children’s benefit is based on the parent’s disability. When a parent is approved for CPP disability, their children may also get benefits. However, the child must be under the age of 18 or between 18-25 and enrolled in school.
How Much Are CPP Disability Payments for 2023
Service Canada uses ‘the CPP disability benefit formula’ to calculate your payment. So, your payment is a flat amount — of $558.74. You also receive an amount based on how much you contributed. Service Canada estimates what your total benefit would be. You can see this in your My Service Canada Account (MSCA).
|Benefit||Average Monthly Payment (Oct. 2022)||Maximum Monthly Payment 2023|
|Regular CPP disability benefit||$1,064.80||$1,538.67|
|CPP disability post-retirement benefit||$524.64||$558.74|
|CPP disability children’s benefit||$264.53 (per child)||$281.72 (per child)|
The retroactive CPP disability payment
You may wonder if the CPP disability benefits are retroactive. In other words, will Service Canada pay you for the past months? The answer is yes. But there are limits. For instance, your back pay is a maximum of 12 months before your application date. It also includes the months from your application date to your approval date.
Read more: ‘Top 7 Questions About CPP Disability Retroactive Payments’.
CPP payment dates for 2022
Service Canada pays benefits once per month. Following are the CPP payment dates for 2023:
- January 27, 2023
- February 24, 2023
- March 29, 2023
- April 26, 2023
- May 29, 2023
- June 28, 2023
- July 27, 2023
- August 29, 2023
- September 27, 2023
- October 27, 2023
- November 28, 2023
- December 20, 2023
Do you want a deep dive into CPP disability payments? Check out our interview with ‘CPP pension expert,’ Doug Runchey.
What Medical Conditions Qualify for CPP Disability
Certainly, any medical condition can qualify for CPP disability. Service Canada focuses on the seriousness of your disability rather than the seriousness of your diagnosis. Sometimes you can have a serious diagnosis. But you might not suffer from a serious disability. For example, people with Multiple Sclerosis can continue to work. It’s important to know that Service Canada focuses on the disability you have right now.
However, your diagnosis is still important. Service Canada uses the Medical Adjudication Framework to decide your case. This Framework says your medical condition is a primary indicator of disability.
When assessing your disability, Service Canada must look at the following factors:
- The nature of your condition
- Functional limitations imposed by the condition
- Impact of treatment
- Medical opinions
- Interaction with other conditions, and
- Personal Characteristics
CPP Disability and Working
CPP disability is only for people who can’t do gainful work. Specifically, Service Canada defines “gainful work” as the ability to earn $18,508.36 per year (before tax in 2023). This is written in the regulations.
So, you can do some work and get benefits. In 2023, Service Canada will allow you to earn up to $6,600 per year (before tax). You don’t even have to report it to them. However, once you earn $6,400 or more, you must report it.
The more you earn over $6,600, the more likely they are to stop your benefit. But Service Canada looks at this on a case-by-case basis. For example, we have seen people earn as much as $13,000 and still keep their benefits.
If you want to return to work, Service Canada has a vocational rehabilitation program. Once approved for that program, you get to keep your full benefits while trying to return to work. Yes, even if you earn more than $18,508.36 per year. If you aren’t successful, then you keep your benefits.
To learn more, check out our article: Earning Money on CPP Disability: What is substantially gainful work?
The CPP Disability Application
You have to apply for CPP disability benefits. To do this, complete Service Canada’s application forms. Then, send them to Service Canada. They will call you for more information. However, they may also write to your doctor or employer to clarify things. After that, they make a decision on your application.
The application includes two forms:
- The Application Form (you fill out)
- The Medical Report Form (your doctor fills out)
Learn more: ‘CPP Disability Medical Report Walkthrough Video.’
Applying for CPP Disability: 5 Steps
Get your doctor’s support
First, speak with your doctor about applying for CPP disability. You can’t win CPP disability benefits without support from your doctor. So, make sure your doctor back you up.
Read more about what to do if your doctor won’t fill out forms for disability benefits.
Prepare and submit your application
You fill out the application form. You can fill it out on paper or online. The online form is in your My Service Canada account. This application is extremely important. So, take your time filling it out. We recommend trying a practice application first. After that, when you have all the answers prepared, fill out the final application. Finally, you mail the application to Service Canada or submit it online.
Get your doctor to complete the medical report
You also need to get a paper copy of the medical report form to your doctor. It is best to book an appointment with your doctor solely to complete the form. At the appointment, your doctor will complete the form and mail the original to Service Canada. They can also give a copy to you.
Cooperate with the medical adjudicator
After that, a Service Canada medical adjudicator will call you. This person is usually a registered nurse. Their job is to process your application. In other words, they have the power to approve or deny your claim. So, be ready for a call where they will ask you more questions. They may also ask for more information from your doctor or employer. You should always cooperate with them. Above all, help them get the information they need.
Wait for the decision
Finally, be patient and wait. It can take 4 to 7 months to get your decision. But that usually has more to do with backlogs — not the quality of your application. You can check the status of your application with your MSCA.
- CPP Disability Application Guide for 2021
- 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for CPP Disability
- How Long Should It Take to Do My CPP Disability Application?
- 8 CPP Disability Application Tips
CPP Disability Appeal
CPP denials are extremely common. In fact, Service Canada denies around 60% of applications. But you can still win CPP benefits on an appeal. So, it is important to know how the appeal process works. Let’s look at it now.
There are three levels of appeal:
- Reconsideration Appeal
- Tribunal Hearing
- Tribunal Appeal
The first level of appeal is reconsideration. You do this appeal with Service Canada. There is a 90-day deadline. To start the appeal, you need to fill out a request form. Then, get the form to Service Canada before the deadline. You also need to send new medical information to support your appeal.
- How to do a Reconsideration Appeal [Guide + Sample Letter]
- 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Your Own Reconsideration Appeal
- ‘Are You Making This Mistake With Your CPP Disability Appeal?’
- ‘7 Common Reasons for CPP Disability Denial’
Social Security Tribunal (General Division)
If Service Canada denies the reconsideration appeal, then you can appeal again. This next appeal is with the Social Security Tribunal (General Division). Similarly, you have 90 days to request the appeal. You must use the Notice of Appeal form to request it in writing.
After that, you have up to two years to prepare for your hearing — this is a new change that came into effect on December 5, 2022. The hearing is where the judge makes a final decision on your claim. You attend the hearing to give verbal testimony. You will also have to answer any questions posed by the judge. So, this is your chance to tell your story.
The tribunal hearing is different from the reconsideration. The judge is independent of Service Canada. You also have the opportunity to give verbal testimony. Because you can tell your story, this appeal is your best chance to win.
Social Security Tribunal (Appeal Division)
If the hearing judge denies your claim, then you have one more appeal. This is with the Social Security Tribunal Division. Before the new changes to the SST came into effect, you were not allowed to submit new evidence or tell your story again at the Appeal Division. This made it very hard for people to win at this stage. However, starting on December 5, 2022, appellants are now allowed to bring new evidence to these cases. This is because these appeals will now be dealt with as new proceedings. Put simply; the Appels Division is now essentially a second General Division hearing.
Another key change to the Appeals Division hearing is appellants can now choose the type of hearing for their appeal.
Sometimes people miss a deadline for an appeal. Luckily, you can be granted an extension. But you have to act quickly. Additionally, you must have a good reason for missing the deadline.
Learn more: How to request an extension of time to appeal a CPP Denial.
Being approved for CPP disability is great news. But, it can come with a new set of challenges. We discuss the common problems you may face below.
Getting payments started
Keep in mind payments don’t start right away. Rather, it can take anywhere from one to five months to get your first payment. You can check the status online at My Service Canada. But give them two months. Then start calling to see what is going on. If you feel like they aren’t taking you seriously, then you can file a complaint.
Read More: How to File a Complaint against Service Canada for CPP Disability.
CPP disability overpayments cause a lot of stress. Overpayments happen when you get paid CPP disability and another disability benefit in the same month. The most common is long-term disability benefits. When this happens, the insurance company can decrease what they pay you. If they already paid you in the past, then you have to pay them back.
Learn more: CPP Retroactive Payment and Long-term Disability Overpayment.
CPP disability benefits are taxable as income. This can be a problem when you get a large retroactive payment. You have to pay tax on this payment — even if it is paid to your insurance company.
Read more: Paying Taxes on CPP Disability: Your Top Questions Answered
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
CPP Disability Lawyers and Representatives
CPP disability is designed for people to apply on their own. Or with help from a friend or family member. However, sometimes it is hard to win on your own. Even if you are legitimately disabled and should qualify, it can be very frustrating. In difficult cases, it is common for people to work with a representative. This can be a ‘CPP disability lawyer. Or another person who is experienced with the process. Many representatives will work on a no-win, no-fee basis. Do your research before hiring any lawyer or advocate.
At Resolute Legal, we have successfully represented CPP disability clients in every province in Canada. Our CPP disability lawyers help you at all stages of the claim, including the initial application, reconsideration appeals and the Social Security Tribunal. If you’re dealing with an appeal, we can review your situation and offer suggestions to improve your chances of success. This is part of our free claim review. Call us toll-free today at (888)-732-0470 or fill out a form to request a free consultation.
CPP Disability Resources
Offices by province and territory
Service Canada has designated offices for CPP disability. You must send all correspondence to your designated office.
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Service Canada, PO Box 9430 Station A, St. John’s, NL A1A 2Y5|
|Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island||Service Canada, PO Box 9430 Station A, St. John’s, NL A1A 2Y5|
|New Brunswick and Quebec||Service Canada, PO Box 250, Fredericton, NB E3B 4Z6|
|Ontario||Service Canada, PO Box 2020 Station Main, Chatham, ON N7M 6B2|
|Manitoba and Saskatchewan||Service Canada, PO Box 818 Station Main, Winnipeg, MB R3C 2N4|
|Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut||Service Canada, PO Box 2710 Station Main, Edmonton, AB T5J 2G4|
|British Columbia and Yukon||Service Canada, PO box 1177 Station CSC Victoria, BC V8W 2V2|
The phone number for Service Canada is 1-800-277-9914. This is the same number for all provinces.
CPP disability forms
The following is a list of all CPP disability forms.
- CPP Benefits Application
- Medical Report for CPP Disability Benefit
- Terminal Illness Application for CPP Disability Benefits
- Terminal Illness Medical Attestation for CPP Disability Benefit
- Consent to Communicate Information to an Authorized Person
- How to Certify Copies of Documents
- Certificate of Incapability
- Request for Voluntary Federal Income Tax Deduction
Social Security Tribunal
- Notice of Appeal (General Division)
- Application to the Appeal Division for Leave to Appeal
- Appointment of a Representative and Authorization to Disclose
The CPP Disability Channel
To learn more about CPP, check out ‘the CPP Disability Channel’ on Youtube. We produce this channel and post one to two new videos per week. So, make sure to check it out.