Maureen was in her late 50’s when she came to see us.
She was exhausted from trying for over 2 years on her own to get somewhere with her Canadian Pension Plan - Disability (CPP-D) application. Every time she addressed one reason for denial they seemed to come up with something else she had to deal with. Time wasn’t on her side. She was finding her disabilities more and more difficult to deal with and no income was making life very difficult for Maureen. When she came to see us she had an 1-inch thick file from CPP-D of their evidence that we had to read through, plus everything that we'd received and discussed with Maureen in order to decide if we could help her and what was the best course of action to take.
This type of case needs to be broken down into steps to follow. In Maureen’s case they were denying her on two grounds: not enough recent employment hours and medical reasons. We had to deal with employment hours first. With some digging through the evidence and checking the legislation, etc. we put forward a strong case in her favour and this step was won. We were now on to the more difficult step the medical evidence, and Maureen’s didn’t look good. We were deep into appeal levels and extensions with this case and getting nowhere fast. Her family doctor was very supportive, but was not the original family doctor. Also, there were reports from specialists from soon after she had to leave work that were not at all supportive to her case. These reports were the medical evidence they were using because it had to match up to her last work period. The new medical evidence didn’t count for her appeals.
We worked on Maureen’s case for about 3 years including appeals, trying to brainstorm ideas to get around the medical evidence that was not supportive, and getting the CPP-D folks to concentrate on the strong medical support. This was a really tough case. We nearly gave up, and were running out of options. We had one last option and that was to request an opportunity to appear in person before an appeal panel in Burnaby. Maureen, her daughter, 8 year old grand-daughter and an Advocate appeared before the panel to explain her case in person. Her daughter and grand-daughter gave evidence of how much Maureen couldn’t do now. She relies on them, seldom goes out anywhere, and is in pain. Being there in person the panel could also see how she was and would not be able to work.
This was what had been needed, the in person appearance with her family tipped the scale in her favour. Maureen finally is now receiving her CPP-D after a long battle that took nearly 5 years to win.
As narrated by Ellen Silvergieter, Advocacy Office Director. To preserve the privacy of our client, name(s) have been changed.