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Case Law & Legislation

The CPPD legislation defines a “person deemed disabled” as someone with a “severe and prolonged mental or physical disability.” The CPPD legislation specifies that a “severe” disability refers to any mental or physical impairment that prevents someone from engaging in substantially gainful work, including part-time work. “Prolonged” means a disability that is long-term and indefinite or is likely to result in death.

Courts have interpreted the legislation in numerous cases, emphasizing that the definition of disability must be understood from a real-world perspective, including considering whether a real-world employer would hire a person given their disability.

Villani v. Canada (A.G.), [2001] FCA 248
The Federal Court of Appeal determined that a “large and liberal” interpretation should be applied to the definition of severe disability, taking into account the legislative intention to apply the severity requirement in a “real-world” context. Factors like age, education level, language proficiency, and past work and life experience are all relevant considerations when evaluating eligibility for disability benefits.

Lalonde v. Canada (Minister of Human Resources Development), 2002 FCA 21
The Federal Court of Appeal determined that the “real-world” context referred to in the Villani decision requires the Pension Appeals Board (now the Social Security Tribunal) to consider the definition of “severe” in the Act when evaluating the evidence. The Act states that “a disability is severe only if…[it is determined that the Applicant] is incapable regularly of pursuing any substantially gainful occupation.”

Effectively, the Court directed the tribunal to consider the evidence brought forward by the Applicant against those words – “regularly”; “substantially”; and “gainful” – in order to determine if the disability meets the definition of “severe” as required under the Act.

Substantially gainful work refers to a job that pays an amount equal to or greater than the maximum annual disability pension. In 2024, this amount is $19,339.74, before tax.

Inclima v. A.G. Canada, 2003 FCA 117
The Federal Court of Appeal stated that an appeal for CPPD benefits should be denied if the individual seeking benefits has not demonstrated sufficient effort to find and maintain employment. Additionally, the inability to work must be a result of the serious health condition.

Giannaros v. Canada (Minister of Social Development), 2005 FCA 187
The Court of Appeal stated that an Applicant must submit both medical evidence and evidence of employment efforts and possibilities.

Our lawyers can help you put forward the most compelling case to show that you meet the required definitions under the Act.

What kind of evidence helps with winning a CPP disability appeal?

Winning a CPP disability appeal relies on presenting strong evidence that showcases the severity of your disability and its effects on your life. Here’s what can make your case:

Medical Conditions: Evidence should illustrate the serious impairments, limitations, or restrictions caused by your medical condition, preventing part-time or full-time employment.

No Recovery Expected: Proof that additional treatments or specialist referrals won’t improve your condition to the point where returning to work is possible.

Supporting Documents: These can include:

  • Doctors’ reports
  • Physiotherapist evaluations
  • Receipts or notes from those assisting you due to your disability
  • Evidence of attempts to find employment despite your disability

Any other evidence showing your efforts to improve your situation.

Your lawyer, working with you, will gather this evidence to build the best case possible. Providing comprehensive and relevant information is key to a successful appeal.

Speak to a CPP disability lawyer

Hiring a CPP disability lawyer from MacGillivray Law can greatly benefit your claim. Our experienced lawyers have in-depth knowledge of CPP disability procedures, increasing the chances of approval. We will assess your case, gather necessary evidence, and handle all legal aspects, saving you time and stress. In the event of denials or appeals, we will navigate the process, enhancing your chances of success while protecting your rights. Our CPP disability lawyers provide expertise, advocacy, and support to ensure you receive the maximum benefits you deserve. Whether you’re located in Halifax, Moncton, New Glasgow, St. John’s or anywhere else in Atlantic Canada, contact our team today for your free consultation.

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