Canada Pension Plan

Almost all individuals who work in Canada contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). The CPP provides pensions and benefits when contributors retire, become disabled, or die. These pensions and benefits include: Retirement pension, which you can apply for and receive at age 65, or as early as age 60 with reduction, or as late as age 70 with an increase; Post-retirement benefits, if you continue to work while receiving your CPP retirement pension; Disability Benefits, which you and your children can receive due to having a disability that results in you being unable to work at any job; Survivor benefits, which pays benefits to your estate, surviving spouse or common-law partner, and children.

CPP Disability Benefits

The CPP disability benefit provides a taxable monthly payment to individuals who meet the CPP contribution requirement, are under the age of 65, and who have a severe and prolonged disability that prevent them from working at any job on a regular basis.


The CPP children’s benefit provides monthly payments for dependent children (under age 18 or between 18 and 25 and attending school full time and who is the natural or adopted child or a child who is in the care and custody) of someone receiving a CPP disability benefit.


If you are aged 60 to 64 and you think you might qualify for a CPP disability benefit, you may also want to apply for a CPP retirement pension. While you cannot receive both at the same time, you may qualify to begin receiving a retirement pension while you wait for your CPP disability benefit application to be assessed, which usually takes longer.


If you are already receiving a CPP retirement pension when your application for a disability benefit is approved, the government will switch your retirement pension to a disability benefit if:


  • you are still under the age of 65;
  • you were deemed to have a disability, as defined by the CPP legislation, before the effective date of your retirement;
  • you have been receiving your CPP retirement pension for less than 15 months at the time you applied for your disability benefit; and
  • you meet the minimum contributory requirements.


It is important to note that if your disability benefit is approved, then you must pay back the retirement pension payments you received. The retirement pension is typically recovered from your first disability payment.

You must apply for the CPP disability benefit in writing using the prescribed form (ISP1151). You will also have to submit a consent form and answers to a questionnaire as well as a medical report to be completed by your family physician. If you are a parent or guardian, you could request the children’s benefit (included in ISP1151) and the child-rearing provision (a separate form).


If you sign your application for a disability benefit before you die, your application will be considered. Your estate and survivors may be eligible to receive CPP benefits after your death.


It takes about four months for the government to process your application and make a decision from the date they receive the completed application and necessary documents. The government may contact you for additional information and you may be required to see another doctor to evaluate your medical condition.


If you have a terminal illness, your disability application will be reviewed within 48 hours after it has been received. Your application will be given priority so that benefit payments can start as soon as possible if approved.


If your application is approved, you can receive a maximum monthly disability benefit of $1,236.35. In 2014, the average monthly benefit amount for new recipients was $901.40. If you are receiving a CPP disability benefit, your dependent children may also be eligible for a children’s benefit. In 2014, the benefit amount for children CPP contributors with a disability was $230.72. CPP payment amounts are adjusted every January if there is an increase in the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index.


If your application is approved, then you can do volunteer work, go back to school to upgrade or complete a degree, or take a re-training program without having any effect on your CPP disability benefit. You can also do paid work up to a certain amount without a decrease to your benefits. In 2014, that amount was $5,100 before taxes. If you earn more than the allowable amount, then you must inform the government and your benefits may be reduced. Any overpayments of your benefits will have to be paid back to the government.


Your case may be reassessed from time to time to ensure that you are still eligible to receive disability benefits. You may be asked to provide current medical and other information. Once all the necessary information has been collected, a decision to continue or stop disability benefits is made. When a CPP disability benefit is cancelled, any related children’s benefits are also cancelled.


CPP disability benefits may also stop if:


  • you are capable of working on a regular basis;
  • you no longer have a disability;
  • you turn 65 (it will automatically be changed to a CPP retirement pension); or
  • you die (it is important that someone notify us about your death to avoid overpayment).


If you return to work but your disability returns and you are unable to work, you can ask to have your disability benefit restarted without having to reapply.


If you disagree with a decision about your eligibility for or the amount of your Canada Pension Plan disability benefit, then you may request a reconsideration of the decision. Your application, along with any new information you submit, will be considered by a different government staff member, who may also ask for additional information.


If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, then you may appeal that decision to the Social Security Tribunal.  At PooranLaw, we can assist you with your appeal to the Social Security Tribunal.