Frequently Asked Questions – Canada Pension Plan Disability

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The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) has been in effect since 1966. It is a national plan based on contributions from workers and employers in Canada. It is best known for its retirement pension, but also provides survivor, death and disability benefits to CPP contributors and their families.

The CPP Disability program is the largest long-term disability insurance program in Canada. Its primary role is to replace a portion of income for CPP contributors who cannot work because of a disability that is both severe and prolonged (as defined by the CPP legislation).

What is CPP disability

CPP Disability is part of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). It is designed to provide financial assistance to CPP contributors who are unable to work because of a severe and prolonged disability.

Benefits are paid monthly to eligible applicants and their dependent children. The monthly disability benefit payment includes a fixed amount, plus an amount based on how much and for how long the contributor paid into the Plan. Payments are adjusted once a year in January if necessary, to reflect changes in the cost-of-living index.

How do I qualify for CPP disability benefits?

To qualify you must:

  • be under 65,
  • have earned a specified minimum amount and contributed to the CPP while working for a minimum number of years, and
  • have a severe and prolonged disability as defined by the CPP legislation.

NOTE: To remain eligible, you must continue to have a disability according to the CPP legislation.


The CPP defines “disability” as a condition, physical and/or mental, that is “severe and prolonged”. “Severe” means that you have a mental or physical disability that regularly stops you from doing any type of work (full-time, part-time or seasonal). “Prolonged” means your disability is likely to be long term or is likely to result in your death.

When should I apply?

You should apply when you develop a serious long-term or terminal medical condition that prevents you from working regularly at your own or any other job.

How do I apply?

You must complete a written application. For an application kit, visit and print a copy. It will tell you what you need to provide so CPP can determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements.

The Disability kit includes an Application form, General Information and Guide, Questionnaire, Consent for Service Canada to Obtain Personal Information form, Medical Report and Child Rearing Provision form. Each form must be completed and forwarded to your nearest Service Canada office (see Returning the Form).

  • Application For Disability Benefits
  • Questionnaire for Disability Benefits
  • Consent for Service Canada to Obtain Personal Information / Physician’s copy
  • Consent for Service Canada to Obtain Personal Information / Service Canada’s copy
  • Medical Report
  • Child Rearing Provision form
  • Information sheet for the Child Rearing Provision

If you are unable to apply on your own, another person may apply for you.

What happens if I die before applying for CPP disability benefits?

CPP disability benefits cannot be paid unless an application is received before the contributor dies. Surviving spouses or common-law partners and dependent children may, however, apply for a CPP death benefit, survivor’s pension, and children’s benefit.

When will my disability benefits start?

Your benefits start four months after the date you become eligible. You may be entitled to benefits dating back a maximum of one year from the date you apply.
Can I volunteer, go to school or work while receiving CPP disability benefits?

Yes. You can:

  • volunteer or attend school, participate in training or upgrade your skills without affecting your CPP disability benefits;
  • work – you can earn up to a limited dollar amount without having to report these earnings to the CPP. To verify what amount CPP has designated as a limit on an annual basis, please contact them directly.

Please note: this amount is not a point at which benefits are stopped; it is an opportunity to see if you would benefit.

Do my CPP benefits affect the amount I receive from Great-West Life's disability programs?

Yes, they will. If you receive disability payments covering the same period of time from both the CPP and the Short-term and/or Long-term disability program, you may be asked to pay back some or all of your CPP disability benefits to the Great-West Life disability office.

If you have questions about how your CPP benefits might affect other benefits you are receiving, you should contact the disability office of Great-West Life at 604-455-2700 or 1-877-262-0749.

Are my CPP payments taxable?

Yes. CPP payments are taxable income. If you wish, Social Development Canada can deduct income tax each month. If you do not request monthly tax deductions, you may have to pay income tax in quarterly instalments. For more information, contact the tax services office of the Canada Revenue Agency at