Canada Pension Plan Disability Act

By: Patricia Woloch
The Canada Pension (Disability) Plan (CPP) was established in 1966 as a social insurance plan that provides retirement income to Canadians, financial assistance for workers with disabilities and for the families of deceased contributors. A 'social insurance program' makes benefits contingent upon a record of contribution and on the occurrence of a foreseen life transition such as unemployment, retirement, injury, disability or widowhood.

Canadians who work pay into CPP from the age of 18 to 70; this is called the 'contributory period.' For CPP disability benefits, contributions must have been made in four of the last six years; this is called the 'recency requirement.'

CPP defines disability as being a condition that is prolonged and severe, making a person 'incapable of regularly pursing any substantially gainful occupation.'

CPP is a partnership program that involves the provincial and federal governments. Under CPP legislation, major changes to the law must be approved by the House of Commons and at least two-thirds of the provinces with two-thirds of the Canadian population.

Consumers are expressing concern about the CPP requirement that recipients be "incapable of regularly pursuing any substantially gainful occupation." This requirement is a powerful disincentive to activities such as education, rehabilitation and volunteering. Fearful that their benefits will be cut off, recipients forego different types of important activities. CCD (Council of Canadians with Disabilities) will make elected officials aware of the negative impact of this disincentive and the need for reform.

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