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Recent Changes to CPP Disability Benefits: What You Need to Know

A woman in a wheelchair shakes hands with another colleague in an office.

Living with a disability often means living with financial hardship. You may be eligible for CPP disability benefits to help ease the financial burden.

The reality is that even with monthly CPP disability benefits coming in, you may still be struggling financially. Working-age Canadians with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as working-age people without disabilities and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made things even worse.

There is some good news on the horizon for Canadians living with disabilities. The federal government is in the process of putting in place its long-promised Canada Disability Benefit. Here is what you need to know about the new benefit and whether it changes CPP disability benefits in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The new Canada Disability Benefit Act

The Canada Disability Benefit Act, S.C. 2023, c. 17  became law in Canada when it received Royal Assent on June 22, 2023. The Act provides the framework for the new Canada Disability Benefit. This benefit is intended to reduce poverty and support the financial security of working-age people with disabilities. It will provide a federal income supplement for hundreds of thousands of low-income people with disabilities, modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Who will be eligible for the Canada Disability Benefit?

Now that the Canada Disability Benefit Act has been passed into law, the federal government is working on setting up the framework for the program. The federal government has indicated that it will likely be well into 2024 before the final benefit framework is in effect, including details about eligibility and the amount of the benefit.

The definition of disability in the Canada Disability Benefit Act is broad:

disability means any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment — or a functional limitation — whether permanent, temporary or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society. 

The process for applying for disability benefits—whether it’s a CPP disability claim, the Disability Tax Credit, or provincial disability benefits—is notoriously challenging, in part due to stringent definitions of what it means to be disabled. It remains to be seen whether the broad definition of disability in the new Act may make it more straightforward for people to qualify.

What is known at this time is that in making regulations on the amount of the disability benefit, the Governor in Council must take into consideration:

  • the Official Poverty Line;

  • the additional costs associated with living with a disability;

  • the challenges faced by those living with a disability in earning an income from work;

  • the intersectional needs of disadvantaged individuals and groups; and

  • Canada’s international human rights obligations.

It is also known at this time that the Canada Disability Benefit will be tied to income level.

Does this mean changes in CPP Disability Benefits in Saskatchewan and Alberta?

Receiving the Canada Disability Benefit will not impact your entitlement to CPP disability benefits. At this point, our Alberta CPP disability claims lawyers can’t advise on specific amounts anyone can expect to receive as the framework is still under development. But what is known is that the Canada Disability Benefit is meant to supplement CPP disability benefits and other disability supports you receive.

The Canada Disability Benefit will be added to what you already receive without a claw-back from other benefits such as those you receive through your CPP disability benefits claim, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped in Alberta (AISH), or Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID).

Eligibility is not going to be limited to people who currently receive federal assistance. In other words, you will be eligible to receive the federal Canada Disability Benefit even if you are receiving provincial benefits.

How to apply for the Canada Disability Benefit

The federal government is still working on establishing the application process, as well as the process for reviews, reconsiderations and appeals if your disability benefits claim is denied. The Act itself states that the government must make regulations dealing with eligibility criteria, amounts payable, the application process, and avenues for review/appeal within 12 months of the Act coming into force, so we should know more by June 2024, if not sooner.

Experienced CPP disability claim lawyer in Calgary

When you’re dealing with a disability, you can trust the team at Ludwar Law Firm to represent your interests with skill and dedication. If you live in Alberta or Saskatchewan, we can handle your disability claims with insurance companies and your CPP disability claim.

To schedule a free initial consultation with an Alberta or Saskatchewan CPP disability claim lawyer at our law firm, contact us today.




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