Denied Disability Benefits: Steps to Take for a Successful Appeal

If you’ve recently been denied disability benefits in Canada, it can be a discouraging and frustrating experience. However, it’s important to know that the journey isn’t over. Many applicants in Canada are initially denied, but with the right approach, you can navigate the appeals process successfully. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to take for a successful appeal of denied disability benefits in Canada.

Understanding the Denial

Before delving into the appeal process, it’s crucial to understand why your disability benefits were denied. The denial letter from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or your private insurance provider should provide details on the reasons for the denial. Common reasons include insufficient medical evidence, technical errors, or inconsistencies in your application. You can check out for more information on how to find the perfect attorney!

Consult with a Disability Advocate

One of the first steps you should consider is consulting with an experienced disability advocate or lawyer. They specialize in Canadian disability law and can provide invaluable guidance throughout the appeals process. An advocate can help you understand your rights, gather necessary documentation, and ensure that you meet all deadlines.

Review and Gather Medical Evidence

A successful disability claim in Canada relies heavily on medical evidence. Collect all relevant medical records, doctor’s reports, and test results that support your disability. It’s essential to establish a clear connection between your condition and your inability to work.

Seeking Expert Medical Opinions

In some cases, obtaining expert medical opinions can strengthen your case. Specialists’ assessments can carry significant weight during the appeals process. These experts can provide detailed reports on the severity of your condition and its impact on your daily life.

File an Appeal on Time

In Canada, you typically have a limited window to file your appeal, often around 90 days from the date of the denial notice. Missing this deadline can jeopardize your chances of success.

Request a Reconsideration

The first level of appeal in Canada is a reconsideration. During this phase, a different CPP or insurance company representative will review your case. It’s essential to provide any additional evidence that supports your claim. Be prepared for a thorough review of your application.

Prepare for a Disability Hearing

If your claim is denied again at the reconsideration stage, you have the option to request a disability hearing. This is a critical juncture in the appeals process. You’ll appear before a decision-maker who will evaluate your case. It’s advisable to have legal representation during this hearing.

The Importance of a Strong Testimony

Your testimony at the hearing is crucial. Be prepared to discuss how your disability affects your daily life and your inability to work. It’s also an opportunity to clarify any discrepancies in your medical records.

Appeal to the Social Security Tribunal

If, unfortunately, the decision-maker denies your claim during the disability hearing, you have the opportunity to further escalate the process by appealing to the Social Security Tribunal. This tribunal serves as an impartial and independent body responsible for reviewing decisions made by the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or private insurance providers regarding disability benefit claims.

The Two Divisions of the Social Security Tribunal

The Social Security Tribunal is divided into two distinct divisions: the General Division and the Appeal Division, each with its specific focus and responsibilities.

1. General Division

The General Division of the Social Security Tribunal is your first destination when appealing a denied disability claim. At this stage, your case will be assigned to a different decision-maker, ensuring a fresh and impartial evaluation of your application. The goal of the General Division is to provide a fair and unbiased review of your case, taking into consideration all the evidence presented during your initial hearing and any new information you may wish to submit.

2. Appeal Division

If, by any chance, you receive an unfavorable decision from the General Division, you can further appeal your case to the Appeal Division of the Social Security Tribunal. The Appeal Division focuses primarily on addressing errors in law or procedure made during the General Division’s review of your case. This division aims to ensure that your rights have been protected and that the correct legal processes have been followed. It’s important to note that while the Appeal Division does not conduct a new hearing, it can have a substantial impact on the outcome of your appeal.

Divisional or General Appeals

Within the Social Security Tribunal, there are divisions that handle different types of appeals. Depending on your case, your appeal may be directed to either the General Division or the Appeal Division. Your advocate can guide you through this process.


Facing a denial of disability benefits in Canada can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that many applicants eventually succeed in their appeals. The key is to be well-prepared, gather substantial medical evidence, and seek legal counsel when necessary. By following these steps and persevering, you can increase your chances of obtaining the benefits you rightfully deserve.