top of page

CPP Disability for Mental Health Conditions: Challenges and Solutions

A therapist talks to a patient facing mental health issues.

Psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be disabling. If you are struggling with a disabling mental health condition, you need support from medical professionals and your loved ones. You also need financial support if you are unable to work due to mental health issues.

CPP disability benefits are a possible source of financial support for you to seriously consider. There are unique challenges associated with CPP disability claims for mental health conditions, but there are ways to overcome them. Our CPP disability lawyer has previously discussed some of the challenges and ways to resolve them:

  • Late applications are a common problem; a severe psychological condition and related symptoms can leave a person incapable of forming the intention to make a CPP disability claim.

  • The “invisible” nature of mental illness can also make it challenging, as mental or psychological impairments aren’t readily observable or measurable with a blood test or X-ray, for example.

Let’s discuss some additional challenges and talk about solutions that will help increase your chances of a successful CPP mental health disability claim.

CHALLENGE: Your doctor doesn’t support your claim

When filing a claim for CPP disability benefits, you must submit two official forms along with other supporting evidence. One of the forms is a Medical Report completed by a doctor or nurse practitioner. It’s unfortunately common for doctors to either refuse to complete the report or to provide a report that is not enough to support the claim. That may be because the doctor is unsure of the information the report must contain, or it could be a more serious problem: the doctor does not think the patient is truly disabled, or the doctor has a personal prejudice against CPP mental health disability claims.


There are ways to address reluctance or opposition from your doctor. The solution depends on the source of the problem. If your doctor is not clear on what the Medical Report should say, you can make an appointment with your doctor to discuss expectations and provide information about what to include in the report: your diagnosis; your limitations; the treatment you have received and will receive in the future; and your prognosis (how your condition is expected to progress).

If your doctor opposes your claim or is of the opinion that you don’t qualify for CPP disability benefits, the problem is a bit thornier. You can make an appointment with your doctor to have a frank conversation about your mental health and how it impacts your ability to work. That may be enough to convince your doctor to assist you, but if it’s not, you still have options. You can ask a nurse practitioner to fill out the medical report or ask a psychologist or psychiatrist who is supportive of your claim to complete the form.

CHALLENGE: Service Canada says you’re not disabled

To qualify for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits your mental illness must be prolonged and severe, and regularly prevent you from doing any type of substantially gainful work. Service Canada’s adjudicators tend to view many mental health conditions as “manageable” since they are so common in modern society. They may unfairly deny your claim on that basis alone. Service Canada may also reject your claim because they think there is a possibility of recovery which will allow you to work in some capacity.


There are ways around it if Service Canada does not think your mental health condition is prolonged or permanent. If you apply too early, your claim may be denied because there is a question as to whether you will recover. For that reason, you may want to consider postponing your application while you pursue treatment and attempt recovery. Once it is clear that treatment has been unsuccessful, you have a better chance of having your CPP disability claim approved.

Another solution is to provide more evidence, and stronger evidence, to support the nature of your disability. It’s more likely that your doctor will support that your condition is permanent and disabling after you have tried all recommended treatments and medication with no success. That should lead to a stronger medical report to support your claim.

You can also provide additional evidence in the form of clinical records from your doctor, psychologist and/or psychiatrist; hospitals or in-patient facilities where you have received treatment; employment records that detail how you have attempted to work, and any accommodations that were made for you; and/or signed statements from your employer detailing your efforts to work and their observations of your struggles.

CHALLENGE: Service Canada says you haven’t received appropriate treatment

This challenge is closely tied to the one we just discussed. To qualify for CPP disability benefits, it’s not enough to have a disability—you must have a disability that is prolonged and not expected to improve. If you haven’t tried all recommended treatment options, or there is even a suggestion that you haven’t been diligent in following treatment recommendations, Service Canada will deny your claim. Even if your mental health symptoms are severe, they will say it’s possible your condition will resolve or go into remission with proper treatment.


You absolutely must receive appropriate treatment, and continue to undergo treatment, to overcome this challenge. Depending on the nature of your psychological issues, that may include medication, counselling, in-patient treatment, or other forms of treatment. If your objective is to be approved for CPP mental health disability benefits, you have to be diligent and receive recommended treatments, even if you don’t want to take medication, and even if you don’t believe in therapy or haven’t had success with it in the past.

Get trusted guidance for your CPP mental health disability claim

You don’t have to go through this alone. Contact Ludwar Law Firm today to discuss your situation. Our Calgary CPP disability lawyer can answer your questions and help you with your claim or appeal.

Ludwar Law Firm has over 25 years of experience representing clients with CPP claims and CPP appeals for mental health conditions. Our clients appreciate that we take the time to explain their options, what is required to make a CPP disability claim, and what to expect during the claims process or appeal process.

Our legal expertise has helped win difficult CPP disability claims for mental health conditions in Edmonton, Calgary, Alberta, Regina, Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan. To schedule a free initial consultation, we welcome you to contact us today by calling 403-670-0055 or coming to our offices, located on 14th Street NW just south of the North Hill Mall. Find out how we can help you.


bottom of page