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Critical Stages of Filing a CPP Disability Claim

An image of a legal application.

CPP disability benefits can be difficult to get. People with legitimate mental or physical disabilities are frequently denied, despite their overwhelming need for financial support.

Understanding the process of filing a CPP disability claim can help you avoid mistakes and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. In today’s blog post, we’ll explore the various stages of filing a CPP disability claim, from application to appeals.


1. Checking that you meet the eligibility criteria

Before filing a CPP disability claim, you must ensure you meet these three basic requirements to qualify:

  • Age: You must be over the age of 18 but under age 65.

  • Contributions: You must have contributed enough to the Canada Pension Plan. To meet the minimum contributory requirements, you must:

  • have made valid contributions to the Canada Pension Plan in 4 of the last 6 years,

  • have contributed for at least 25 years, including 3 of the last 6 years, or

  • meet the requirements for the “late applicant” provision, which may help you qualify for CPP disability benefits if you did not apply when you first became disabled.

  • Disability: Your mental or physical condition must meet CPP’s definition of a “severe and prolonged” disability that prevents you from regularly working. “Severe” in this context means that you have a mental or physical disability that regularly stops you from doing any type of substantially gainful work. “Prolonged” means that your disability is long-term and of indefinite duration or is likely to result in death.

If you don’t meet those eligibility criteria, you should hold off on filing a CPP disability claim. You may want to reach out to an experienced CPP disability claims lawyer to discuss strategies for meeting the requirements, especially if you are concerned about your contribution levels or worried that your condition may not be considered severe and prolonged.

2. Preparing your application

It’s essential that you take your time preparing your application, ensuring that you use the proper forms and provide all the necessary paperwork and evidence to support your claim. Filing a CPP disability claim requires you to submit:

It’s also highly recommended that you submit a cover letter with your application, though it’s not mandatory. A well-written cover letter is an excellent opportunity to explain your work history, education, and how your mental or physical condition is impacting your ability to work. You can also use the cover letter to provide critical information, such as an upcoming consultation with a medical specialist. 


3. Filing your CPP disability claim

Once you are sure that you have your application in order, it’s time to file it. You can file a CPP disability claim online, by Canada Post, or by dropping it off at a Service Canada location near you. After you file your application, you will typically get an answer from Service Canada within 90-120 days.


You’ll either get a notification that your CPP disability benefit claim is approved and you will start receiving the payments soon, or you will get a denial letter notifying you that your claim has been denied. The denial letter should contain the reasons why your disability claim was denied (though the reasons are not always clear—a skilled CPP disability lawyer can help you decipher the denial letter and devise a plan to get your claim approved).


4. Requesting a reconsideration of a CPP-D decision

If your CPP disability benefit application has been denied, you can write to Service Canada to request a “Reconsideration Appeal.” Your written request must be brought within 90 days of the day you received the denial letter from Service Canada.

If you have not yet already reached out to a CPP disability claims lawyer, now is a good time to get legal advice and guidance. You will need to obtain your file from Service Canada and review it carefully.

It’s open to you to submit additional or new supporting evidence to support your claim; your lawyer will explain what is needed and assist you in gathering evidence to address Service Canada’s reasons for the rejection. Your lawyer will also work with you to put your best case forward.


It takes several months for a CPP-disability reconsideration appeal to be completed. Attempts to look for work or return to the workforce are important while your appeal is under consideration. Failed attempts to return to a job help show that you cannot work due to your disability. Its also important to continue seeing your doctor and follow treatment recommendations during the appeal process.


5. Appealing to the Social Security Tribunal

You can appeal to the Social Security Tribunal of Canada if Service Canada upholds its original decision to deny your CPP disability claim. The Tribunal is separate from Service Canada and has the authority to make a different decision. There are two possible levels of appeal within the Tribunal. See here for detailed information about the Tribunal’s appeal processes.


Get advice and guidance when filing a CPP disability claim


You don’t have to go through the process of filing a CPP disability claim on your own. You can have the benefit of legal representation to assist you with the CPP disability claim application process—or the appeals process if your claim has been denied.


Ludwar Law Firm has over 25 years of experience representing clients with CPP disability claims. 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.


Our legal expertise has helped win even difficult CPP disability claims for mental health conditions, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. The team at our Calgary law firm will help you determine which benefits you are eligible to claim and guide you throughout the application process.

If you have already made a CPP disability claim application and been denied benefits, we can help you find out why. Our CPP disability claim law firm can help you through the appeal process so you get the benefits you deserve in Edmonton, Calgary, Alberta, Regina, Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan.  We welcome you to contact us today to schedule your free consultation.



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