Finding My Way to Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits

By Judy Feeley
My name is Judy. I was born with congenital hydrocephalus and have been a member of Hydrocephalus Canada for several years.
Shauna asked me to share my challenges in getting approved for the Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits (CPPD), in hopes that it will help others in the same/similar situations as myself.
I worked since I was 12 years old, and never actually was aware that I had hydrocephalus until I was 42. I had constant severe headaches for 2 ½ years, my mobility and focusing, etc. got progressively worse.
After my ETV surgery in May 2013, I had complications and was unable to return to my job as a registered early childhood educator (which I loved).
I originally was on E.I., then short-term and eventually long-term disability through my employer. After two years and two long assessments, my status became what was called, “change of definition”. Which meant I could no longer do ANY job, not just my previous one.
Shortly afterwards, my work disability insurance company asked me to apply for CPPD. I got the application off the government website and had my family doctor complete it. She wasn’t pleased about it, but did it regardless. I didn’t get approved.
It took several appeals and re-applications, and help from disability advocates assisting me. The clincher that helped the most was me personally paying an occupational therapist from Lifemark to come to my home, and do an assessment geared specifically to the questions/areas on the form. That and the dedication and hours spent by current family physician, on my claim Dr. M. Lovegrove, and finally I got approved.
A few other things I discovered along my journey were: 1) The representative from Service Canada will ask you questions to try and catch people who cheat. They also think if you are able to volunteer, that you should be able to work. I found the one who called me very mean and demeaning. She had me in tears every time. 2) Document everything. Keep copies, receipts, notes of phone calls, doctor’s appointments, letters, reports, etc. 3) You need to advocate for yourself, nobody else will!
I now still get some funds from long term disability and some from CPPD. I recently completed a form to have 25% tax deducted off each payment, so that I don’t have to pay back a big chunk in April at tax time each year. You can get this form off the government website.
Good luck on your journey. I hope this helps someone. Stand up for yourself, even those of us who have trouble literally standing up!