Case Commentary: CPP Benefits Denied Due to Failure to Follow Treatment

The Federal Court has denied further appeals to a CPP benefits applicant whose application was repeatedly denied due to his failure to follow his doctor’s treatment advice.

Cvetkovski v. Canada (Attorney General)

The applicant had a history of psychological disorders that impaired his ability to work. For over six years prior to his application, he had been treated by a number of medical professionals for his mental illness. They had all recommended various antidepressants and mood stabilizer medication, combined with therapy or counselling, and had provided him with a variety of options for free or very low-cost community therapy.

His application for benefits was repeatedly denied on the grounds that he did not meet the criteria to qualify for payment of a CPP disability pension. The General Division of the Social Security Tribunal (“GD”) determined that he had failed to prove that he suffered from a, “severe and prolonged disability,” before his minimum qualifying period.

The applicant sought leave to appeal the GD decision from the Appeal Division of the Society Security Tribunal (“AD”). In refusing leave, the AD found that the application had been properly dismissed by the GD. They noted that the applicant had failed to provide reasonable justification for discontinuing treatment unilaterally, ceasing his medication without consulting his doctors, and failing to comply with the free or low-cost therapy that he required.

The applicant then attempted to appeal this denial to the Federal Court, which was unsuccessful. The Court noted that through his own evidence the applicant had, “made it clear that he doesn’t believe that any treatment will work,” and, “decided that there is no point in trying.” He failed to adduce any medical evidence to support his contention that he had no reasonable prospect of improvement in his condition and returning to some form of work. Ultimately, his doctors acknowledged his medical condition and disability, but did not agree with the applicant that he had no prospect of recovering enough to return to the workforce.

Legal counsel for CPP Benefit applications

This case illustrates that qualifying for CPP benefits is never guaranteed, even if you have a legitimate, recognized disability that seriously restricts your capacity to earn a living. If you have applied for CPP benefits, or have any questions about your eligibility, our pension plan lawyers can provide you with the guidance and information you need. Having a lawyer on your side who understands the process can help you gather the right evidence to support your claim, and improve your chances of success.

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