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CPP Disability Timeline: How Long Does It Take to Get Approved?

A man smiles while sitting in a wheelchair.

No one likes having to wait. It can feel particularly excruciating to wait for important news.

There are few things more important than your financial security when you're coping with a disability or serious illness. If you’re thinking about applying for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits or have recently submitted an application for CPP disability benefits, you are almost certainly wondering about timing.

In today’s blog post, our CPP disability claim lawyer will talk about the typical CPP disability timeline so you know what to expect and how long it takes to get approved.

CPP disability application process

Assuming you're eligible for CPP disability benefits, you start the application process by completing and submitting the correct application forms to Service Canada. You must also have your doctor complete and submit a medical report to Service Canada.

You should receive a letter from Service Canada telling you that your application has been received. Once you’ve submitted a complete CPP disability application package, Service Canada will begin reviewing your application. They may call you to request more information to help them make a decision, and they may ask you to see another doctor to evaluate your medical condition.

How long will it take to get approved for CPP disability benefits?

Service Canada has published the following CPP disability timeline service standards for processing applications:

  1. If you have a terminal illness, your application will receive priority handling. A terminal illness is a disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and is reasonably expected to result in death within 6 months. Service Canada’s goal is to make a decision within 5 business days of receiving a complete terminal illness application.

  2. If a grave condition is identified on your application and medical form, Service Canada aims to process your application within 30 calendar days.

  3. In all other cases, Service Canada will notify you of its decision about 120 days from the date it receives your complete application and the medical report form.

The key to each of these timelines is that they don’t begin to run until Service Canada has your complete application package, including the medical report from your doctor. To avoid unnecessary delays, you should apply for CPP disability benefits as soon as you develop a severe and prolonged mental or physical medical condition or terminal medical condition that regularly prevents you from working. Don’t hold off on submitting your application package while you wait for additional documents such as medical records, lab reports, or imaging studies (X-rays, MRIs, etc.); instead, write a cover letter that you submit with your application forms telling Service Canada that other documents will be provided.  

Reasons the CPP disability timeline may take longer

Now you know Service Canada’s goals for processing and deciding CPP disability claims. But you should also know that they don’t always meet those goals for a number of reasons, including:

  • Your application is incomplete.

  • Service Canada requests additional information, such as medical evidence or information from your employer.

  • The number of applications it’s currently processing, backlog, and/or staffing issues.

You can check the status of your CPP disability application by calling Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914 or by logging into your My Service Canada Account if you have one. Your application status may show as “in progress,” which typically means it’s in the process of being reviewed by one of Service Canada’s medical adjudicators, or it may show as “completed,” which means a decision has been made but the letter advising whether your CPP-D claim has been approved or denied has not yet made it to you in the mail.

When will you begin receiving CPP disability benefit payments?

As mentioned above, you should send Service Canada your application forms as soon as possible because the date your completed application is received can impact when your benefits start. When your application for CPP disability benefits is approved, you usually start getting payments 120 days (4 months) after the date Service Canada determines that you are disabled.

For example, if Service Canada determines that you were disabled in July, then you will start receiving your benefit payment in November. If you have had your disability for more than 4 months when Service Canada approves your CPP-D application, you may receive up to 12 months of “retroactive payments” from the date your completed application was received.

What if my CPP disability claim is denied?

The unfortunate reality is that many legitimate CPP disability claims are denied. If your claim is denied, you can ask for a review of Service Canada’s decision. There is a timeline for that: You must request the reconsideration in writing within 90 days of receiving your decision letter.

It’s strongly recommended that you reach out to a CPP disability claim law firm if your benefit claim is denied. Our CPP disability claim lawyer will review your records and documents, including your application and denial letters. We will ask for details about your work experience and what is preventing you from working now. If you were denied CPP-D benefits, we will help you figure out why and help you navigate the reconsideration/appeals process so you get the benefits you deserve.


For more information on Canada Pension Plan disability benefits in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the expected CPP disability timeline for approval, or the steps you can take if your claim has been denied, contact Ludwar Law Firm. The first consultation with us is free and can be done over the phone or at our office at your convenience.


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