Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Glossary

This is a glossary of legal terms the Social Security Tribunal (SST) uses sometimes. It’s a list of specific words and phrases and what they mean. You might see these terms:

  • on our website
  • in our decisions
  • in our forms and letters

The laws that set out whether you have a right to benefits are very technical. And sometimes, we have to use the complicated terms the laws use. But we can always explain what they mean in a way that’s easy to understand.

This glossary is meant to give you general information only. It’s not legal advice. These terms may mean something else in other legal contexts.

The information in this glossary was right when we posted it. After that, there may have been changes in the laws these terms relate to. Any changes could mean that the information in this glossary isn’t up to date when you access it.

A-Z Glossary

A

adjournment

If you ask for an adjournment, it means you’re asking the SST to change your hearing to another date.

allocate

Sometimes, you get earnings after you stop working. For example, you might get:

  • severance pay
  • vacation pay
  • retirement pay
  • compensation because you were let go unfairly

Service Canada allocates (assigns) those earnings to certain weeks.

This may mean you:

  • get less in Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • don’t get EI benefits
  • have to pay back some EI benefits you already got

alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a simple way of possibly resolving your appeal without a hearing. We organize a meeting where you and the other party can:

  • talk and ask questions
  • try to come to an agreement

antedate

If you’re late in applying for Employment Insurance benefits, you can ask us to treat your application as though you applied earlier. We call this “antedating” your application.

appeal

Your appeal is your case at the SST.

If you disagree with a decision about your benefits, the SST is where you can challenge the decision. That challenge is your appeal.

available for work (availability)

You have to be available for work to get regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. This means you have to be ready for and able to work but can’t find a job.

Service Canada considers whether you’re available for work when it decides whether you can get EI benefits.

B

balance of probabilities

If you have to prove something on a balance of probabilities, it means you have to show that your version of the facts is more likely the right one.

Usually, you and the other party have different versions about what happened and what the facts are. You want the SST member (decision-maker) to agree with your version.

You have to convince the SST member that your version of the facts is more likely to be true compared to the other party’s.

The SST member will examine and weigh the evidence (like on a balance or scale). They’ll decide whose version of the facts is more likely to be true. Even if the facts show you’re only slightly more likely to be right, your version of the facts will have the stronger proof.

benefit period

Your benefit period is the time during which you can get Employment Insurance benefits. It’s usually 52 weeks.

burden of proof

If you have the burden of proof, it means you have to prove your version of the facts is the right one.

Usually, you and the other party have different versions about what happened and what the facts are. You want the SST member (decision-maker) to agree with your version.

You have to prove your version is the right one on a balance of probabilities. This means you have to convince the SST member that your version is more likely to be true compared to the other party’s.

C

case law

Case law is all the decisions from courts and tribunals. It’s one part of the law. The other part is legislation (laws from Parliament). SST members (decision-makers) have to follow both.

Case law can help you understand what the SST or the courts have decided in appeals like yours. You can use case law to help make arguments in your appeal.

child-rearing provision (CRP)

If you took time off work or worked less to look after your young child or children, the child-rearing provision may apply to you. It’s part of the Canada Pension Plan. It may help you qualify for or increase the amount of your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability pension or other CPP benefits (like a CPP retirement pension). It’s sometimes called the “child-rearing dropout provision.”

contributory period

Your contributory period is the time during which you can pay into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Service Canada uses it to determine whether you can get CPP benefits. It also uses it to calculate how much you can get.

It starts when you turn 18 or on January 1, 1966 (whichever is later). In general, it ends when 1 of the following happens (whichever happens first):

  • when you become disabled
  • when you start receiving your CPP retirement pension
  • when you turn 70
  • when you die

corrigendum

A corrigendum is a correction in a decision.

Sometimes, there’s an error in an SST decision, like the wrong date or a misspelled name. When the SST corrects this error, it makes a new version of the decision.

D

date of onset

The date of onset is the month and year you first became disabled based on what the law says.

deemed date of disability

For the Canada Pension Plan disability pension, exactly when you are considered disabled is called your deemed date of disability. You can only be considered disabled up to 15 months before you apply (even if you were actually disabled earlier).

The earliest you can start getting the disability pension is 4 months after this date.

discretion

Discretion is the power to decide whether to do something. The law gives decision-making authorities (like the SST, Commission, or Minister) discretion in certain situations. They can use their discretion only when it’s appropriate. Determining when it’s appropriate depends on a variety of factors.

disentitled (disentitlement)

If you’re disentitled from getting Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, it means you’re not allowed to get EI because of the situation you’re in. Sometimes, the situation is something you don’t have much control over, like:

  • losing your job because of a labour dispute
  • being out of the country
  • being a teacher and you’re not working during the summer

Sometimes, the situation is because of something you failed to do. You may have failed to prove you meet one of the conditions the law says you need to meet to be entitled to EI. For example, you’re disentitled if you don’t:

  • show you’re available for work
  • show you’re unemployed
  • give information the government needs for it to determine whether you can get EI

disqualified (disqualification)

If you’re disqualified from getting Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, it means you’re not allowed to get EI because of something you did or failed to do.

For example, you can be disqualified from getting EI if you:

  • chose to quit your job, and your reason for leaving isn’t a reason the law accepts
  • got a suitable job offer but didn’t take it when you could have
  • lost your job because of misconduct (you did something that caused you to get fired)
  • didn’t take a training course the government referred you to

E

evidence

Evidence is something you present to the SST to prove a fact.

It includes things like:

  • documents
  • photographs
  • video recordings
  • sound recordings
  • testimony (what a witness says)

The SST considers your evidence to make its decision.

extension of time

At the SST, there are deadlines for things like appealing.

You can ask the SST for more time to appeal, but you have to explain why your appeal is late. If the SST gives you more time, that’s called getting an extension of time.

G

good cause

If you have to show good cause for something, it means you have to give an explanation the law accepts. Basically, good cause is a legally valid reason.

For example, maybe you want Employment Insurance benefits, but you turned down a suitable job offer. You’d have to explain how you had good cause for not accepting that job.

Showing good cause means you have to show you did 2 things:

  1. You acted reasonably and carefully just as anyone else would have if they were in a similar situation
  2. You tried to learn about your rights and responsibilities as soon as possible and as best you could

grounds of appeal

Grounds of appeal are your reasons for appealing.

If you appeal to the Appeal Division, you have to explain how the General Division made a mistake in the decision it gave you. There are 4 types of mistakes. The law calls them “grounds of appeal”:

  1. The General Division didn’t follow a fair process.
  2. The General Division dealt with an issue it didn’t have the power to deal with. Or it didn’t deal with an issue it was supposed to deal with.
  3. The General Division didn’t apply the law correctly.
  4. The General Division got important facts wrong because it overlooked or misunderstood evidence.

I

incapacity

Incapacity means you weren’t able to express that you wanted to apply for benefits earlier. You weren’t able to express this before you actually applied or someone applied for you.

insurable earnings

Your insurable earnings are the portion of your income that the government uses to calculate 2 things:

  • how much you and your employer pay into the Employment Insurance (EI) plan
  • how much you might get in EI benefits

interlocutory decision

An interlocutory decision is a type of SST decision that considers a specific issue in your appeal, not all the issues.

For example, if your appeal is late and you ask for more time, the SST decides whether to give you more time. This is an interlocutory decision because it considers a specific issue (whether you’ll get more time and go to the next step). It doesn’t consider the other issues in your appeal. An interlocutory decision isn’t a final decision.

J

judicial review

Judicial review is when a court examines a decision from the SST.

Courts do this to make sure the SST follows the rules. The Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal are some courts that can do this.

You can ask a court for judicial review of the decision you got from the Appeal Division if you don’t agree with it.

jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the SST’s legal power (authority) to deal with a dispute. There are some things the SST has the power to decide and some things it doesn’t.

If the SST dealt with an issue it didn’t have the power to deal with, the law says the SST acted beyond its jurisdiction.

If the SST didn’t deal with an issue it was supposed to deal with, the law says the SST refused to exercise its jurisdiction.

just cause

If you decided to quit or take leave from your job and you want Employment Insurance benefits, you have to show you had just cause for quitting or taking leave. Showing just cause means you have to show 2 things:

  • You had a reason that the law accepts for quitting or taking leave (the law gives a list of the most common reasons)
  • Quitting or taking leave was your only reasonable option in the situation

L

legal test

A legal test is a set of specific questions or criteria the SST has to consider when examining an issue.

Legislation (laws from Parliament) and the courts set out legal tests.

M

minimum qualifying period (MQP)

Your minimum qualifying period or MQP is when you’re covered by the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

Service Canada uses your years of CPP contributions to calculate this coverage period.

For example, to get disability benefits, you have to have become disabled before the end of your MQP.

misconduct

If you lost your job because of misconduct, it means you did something that caused you to get fired. In other words, you lost your job because of the way you behaved.

For example, maybe you didn’t show up for work or didn’t get a doctor’s note for sick leave when you had to.

Usually, your behaviour is considered misconduct if you did something deliberately or wilfully.

You can’t get Employment Insurance benefits if you lost your job because of misconduct.

N

notice of appeal

A notice of appeal is a form you fill out and send us when you want to appeal to the SST. It’s the form you use when you appeal the reconsideration decision you got from Service Canada about your claim for benefits.

notice of hearing

A notice of hearing is a letter we send you. You get it by email or mail. It gives you details about your hearing. For example, it tells you:

  • when your hearing will be
  • where your hearing will be
  • what type of hearing you’ll have

notice of readiness

A notice of readiness is a form you can fill out and send us when you’re ready for the next step in your appeal.

First, you send us your notice of appeal and all the documents to support your appeal. Then, if you’re ready, you can send us a notice of readiness. It tells us you’re ready for us to consider your documents and schedule a hearing (if we think you need one).

There’s no notice of readiness for Employment (EI) appeals because EI appeals are usually quick. You can send us a notice of readiness if you have one of the following types of appeals:

  • Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
  • Old Age Security (OAS)
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

O

on the merits

A decision on the merits means the SST will decide your appeal based on the law and how it applies to the facts of your case.

In other words, an SST member (decision-maker) will consider the facts and issues in your appeal. They’ll examine all the evidence. And they’ll apply the law to that evidence. They’ll also consider earlier decisions about cases similar to yours.

on the record

A decision on the record means the SST will decide your appeal based only on the evidence and arguments on file. The SST can make a decision on the record when:

  • the issues in your appeal aren’t complex
  • there’s nothing missing from your file
  • everything you’ve told us is believable

If the SST makes a decision on the record, it means you won’t have a hearing.

P

permission to appeal (leave to appeal)

Usually, you have to get permission to appeal to the Appeal Division if you want to appeal the decision you got from the General Division.

The Appeal Division will give you permission to appeal if it thinks you have a reasonable chance of proving that the General Division made a certain mistake. This means you’ll get permission if the Appeal Division thinks your argument might succeed.

If you don’t get permission to appeal, your appeal won’t continue and we’ll close your appeal file.

Permission to appeal is sometimes called “leave to appeal.”

post-hearing document

A post-hearing document is a document you send the SST after the hearing but before the SST member makes their decision. Usually, a post-hearing document is:

  • more evidence (like a medical report)
  • more arguments

If you want the member to consider a post-hearing document, you have to do 3 things:

  • send us a copy of the document
  • explain why it’s relevant
  • explain why you could not send it before the hearing

Send the copy and your explanations together.

prejudice

If something causes prejudice, it means it’s unfair or harmful to you or someone else. Usually, prejudice is about being unfair or harmful to your rights or interests. SST members (decision-makers) often talk about “not causing prejudice” to the other party.

At the SST, some things that could cause prejudice are:

  • making an administrative error (like entering the wrong information)
  • accepting late documents
  • giving more time to appeal

prolonged disability

A disability is prolonged if:

  • it doesn’t have an expected recovery date
  • it’ll likely keep you out of the workforce indefinitely

You have to have a severe and prolonged disability to get Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.

R

reconsideration decision

A reconsideration decision is the decision you need before you can appeal to the SST.

You can ask Service Canada to reconsider its decision about your claim for benefits if you don’t agree with it.

Service Canada will ask someone new to review the original decision and why you don’t agree with it. The decision they make about that is called a reconsideration decision. It’s the decision you appeal when you come to the SST for the first time.

record of earnings

Each person who pays into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) has a record of earnings of their contributions. Your record of earnings has details about:

  • how much money you’ve earned from work
  • how much you’ve paid into the CPP (your valid contributions to the CPP)

Service Canada uses your record of earnings to keep track of how much you’ve paid into the CPP.

remedy

A remedy is a solution to an error. It’s how the SST fixes a mistake that the General Division made in its decision.

If you appeal to the Appeal Division, the member (decision-maker) may find that the General Division made a mistake. If that happens, they can offer 1 of 2 remedies:

  • Send your appeal back to the General Division, so it can look at your case again and make another decision
  • Give the decision that the General Division should have given

rescind or amend

If the SST rescinds or amends a decision, it means an SST member (decision-maker) reopens an SST decision and cancels or changes it. If they cancel it, they replace it with a new one.

You can ask us to reopen an SST decision only:

  • once
  • within 1 year after getting the decision
  • in very limited circumstances

Generally, you have to have a fact that’s new and so relevant that it would have changed the outcome of the original decision. And you have to show that the SST member didn’t know about that fact at the hearing.

For example, the fact could be a finding from a medical report that wasn’t known when the hearing took place but that would impact the decision.

S

severe disability

A disability is severe if it gets in the way of you earning a living.

An SST member (decision‑maker) considers whether your disability is severe. They look at:

  • all your medical conditions together to see how they affect your ability to work
  • your background (age, level of education, and past work and life experience)

This is so they can get a realistic picture of whether your disability is severe.

If you’re able to regularly do some kind of work that pays more than a minimum amount, then you can’t get Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits. The law says what that minimum amount is.

You have to have a severe and prolonged disability to get CPP disability benefits.

submissions

Your submissions are your arguments. They set out your point of view about what the SST should do in your appeal.

You can file written arguments with the SST or make arguments orally at an oral hearing.

substantially gainful

A substantially gainful occupation is any work you might do to earn a living.

Your work is substantially gainful if what you’d earn in a year is the same or more than the most you’d get from Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.

summary dismissal

If you get a summary dismissal decision, it means the SST rejected your appeal. It thinks you don’t have an argument that could possibly succeed, so it’s not letting your appeal go to the next step.

If you get a summary dismissal decision, there won’t be a hearing, and we’ll close your appeal file.

If you want to appeal a summary dismissal decision, you have to appeal to the Appeal Division. You don’t need permission to appeal a summary dismissal decision.

V

valid contribution

To be eligible for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits, you have to have made valid contributions to the CPP. A contribution is how much you pay into the CPP in a year. Only contributions on earnings above a certain amount are valid.

How much you pay depends on how much money you earn from work. If you earn less than a certain amount in a year, you don’t pay into the CPP that year.

How much you’ll get in CPP benefits depends on how much and how long you paid into the CPP.

W

work capacity (capacity for work)

Work capacity means you’re able to regularly do some kind of work that you could earn a living from.

An SST member (decision-maker) considers whether you have work capacity. They look at:

  • all your medical conditions together to see how they affect your ability to work
  • your background (age, level of education, language ability, and past work and life experience)

If there’s evidence that you can work, you have to show that your efforts to find and keep a suitable job weren’t successful because of your medical conditions. In other words, your medical conditions have to be what stopped you from working.

If you have some capacity for work, then you can’t get Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.

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