CPP Disability and Benevolent Employer
By: Pamela Bowes, Manager, Program Development

One of the special application provisions of the CPP Disability Program is the Late Applicant Provision. In order to be eligible for CPP Disability, an applicant must meet both application criteria – both the contributions rule and the definition of disability rule and meet them in that order. The contributions rule is that an applicant must have contributed to Canada Pension Plan in four of the last six years. There is a tiny asterisk to this rule – for those who do not meet the four of six year rule, but have at least 25 years of contributions over their years of work, then CPP will consider three of the last six years for eligibility.

Once an applicant meets the contributions rule, their application is reviewed to determine if the definition of disability is met. In some circumstances, there are people who have contributed to CPP and meet the eligibility criteria, but do not meet the necessary degree of disability. In fact, about 50% of applicants for CPP Disability are turned down as they do not meet the definition of disability.

One lesser-known provision for eligibility relates to people who have disabilities but are able to work, largely due to the compassion and guidance of a benevolent employer. For example, someone with an intellectual disability who is unable to otherwise perform regular employment due to their disability, but is able to work in the family store where family provides all the vocational assistance and support in order to perform their job. This was the example that CPP staff used when describing this provision – a woman ran a store in her town, and she employed her brother to greet people coming into the store and holding the door open as they left. This man had suffered a brain injury in the past and had severe cognitive impairments that would prevent him from now holding employment. His sister created a specific job for him, and continued to supervise and support him on the job, when no other means for employment was available. Unfortunately her store suffered financial loss and the store closed. It was at this point that the man became too disabled to work, or more accurately that his disability was now making him unemployable. There were no other employers who would hire him. It was the benevolent employer that permitted this man the opportunity to be able to have a job and contribute to CPP, and when the job ceased, the disability now prevented him from being able to work.

So in this circumstance the person would need to meet the contributions rule first. Once that was satisfied, CPP would be determining disability. In fact the person has remained disabled all along, to the same degree, with the same disability. Once the benevolent employer ceased, the disability was now a true disability (as defined by CPP).

I had not heard of this provision before, but have recently had the opportunity to base an application for CPP Disability on this circumstance. CPP stated that in most cases, a benevolent employer is usually a family member or close personal connection, and it is in the case I am working on. It will take several months for a decision to be made, as is usual for CPP, but I am hoping for a favourable outcome.