Social Security Tribunal of Canada

OAS/GIS General Division: Your reasons for appealing

Here are some examples of things the SST can make a decision on:

Scenario 1

Luis applied for an Old Age Security (OAS) pension in January 2021. Service Canada denied his application. It said he didn’t live in Canada long enough to qualify because he often spent a lot of time in El Salvador. Luis doesn’t agree. He agrees that he’s been to El Salvador often, but he says it was just to help his nephew and niece there.

The law says you have to reside in Canada for at least 10 years to qualify for an OAS pension.

If Luis decides to appeal, he can show that he made a life in Canada with his wife and children. He has a bank account here, owns a house, and has a family doctor he sees regularly. He can show that he has travelled to El Salvador only to help his extended family. He stays with his family and they pay for everything when he’s there.

We can decide whether Luis has resided in Canada for at least 10 years.

Scenario 2

Elena was receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) at the rate for a single person. Service Canada looked into her situation, because it thought that she was living in a common-law relationship with Mike. He was also receiving the GIS at the single person rate.

The law says that if you’re in a conjugal relationship (married or common-law), you’re supposed to receive the GIS at the married rate, not at the single rate.

If Elena decides to appeal, she can show that she wasn’t in a common-law relationship with Mike. She can show that she took care of Mike for many years, but she was only doing that as a friend, not as a common-law partner.

We can decide whether Elena and Mike were in a common-law relationship and how it might affect the GIS.

Here are some examples of things the SST cannot make a decision on:

Scenario 1

Noah applied in 2015 to receive the GIS as a single person. In March 2017, he started living with his girlfriend, Amy but he didn’t tell Service Canada. In January 2021, Service Canada found out that he’d been living with Amy all this time. So Service Canada sent him a letter telling him that he had to pay back the extra money he’d been receiving since March 2017. 

Noah agrees that he’s in a common-law relationship with Amy. But he decides to appeal because he feels he can’t pay back all that money.  

We can’t decide whether Noah has to pay back the extra money.

Scenario 2

When Bea started receiving her Old Age Security (OAS) pension, Service Canada gave her a retroactive payment. Bea finds the amount low so she asked Service Canada to reconsider its decision. Service Canada denied her request because it gave Bea the biggest retroactive payment it could. Bea feels she should receive more.

The law says that unless Bea can establish she was incapable of forming or expressing the intention to apply, the maximum period a retroactive payment can cover is 11 months from the date Service Canada received the application.

We can’t change the law. We don’t have the authority to tell Service Canada to pay Bea more money.

Decisions about income

We can’t make decisions about issues that relate to income. We refer these issues to the Tax Court of Canada so they can make the decision.

If we refer your case to the Tax Court of Canada, we’ll keep your appeal open at the SST. Once we get the decision from the Tax Court of Canada, we’ll contact you.

What happens if you don’t have a “reasonable chance of success”

If you appeal, an SST member will look at your case and the documents you send us. A member is the decision-maker in an appeal. They have to look at your situation and see what the law says about it. They can’t change the law. They have to follow what it says.

A member will consider whether your appeal has a “reasonable chance of success.” That means the member will consider whether you have an argument that could possibly succeed. If they think you do, then they will want to hear more about it in a hearing.

If the member says you don’t have a reasonable chance of success, the member may start the summary dismissal process.

What’s a summary dismissal?

When an SST member starts the summary dismissal process, it means they’ve decided that you don’t have an argument that could possibly succeed. They think your case might not have a reasonable chance of success.

Example

When Mateo started receiving his Old Age Security (OAS) pension, Service Canada gave him a retroactive payment. Mateo finds the amount low so he asked Service Canada to reconsider its decision. Service Canada denied his request because it gave Mateo the biggest retroactive payment it could. Mateo feels he should receive more.

The law says that the maximum period a retroactive payment can cover is 11 months from the date Service Canada received the application.

The SST member has to follow what the law says. So the SST member assigned to Mateo’s appeal is thinking about summarily dismissing his appeal. For Mateo, the summary dismissal process will start.

If your appeal starts down the summary dismissal process, we’ll send you a letter. The letter will explain that your SST member thinks they may have to summarily dismiss your appeal.

You can tell us in writing why you think your appeal should not be summarily dismissed.

The member will look at what you send us.

Then the member will do 1 of 2 things:

  • summarily dismiss your appeal in writing
  • allow your appeal to go to the next step

If the SST member summarily dismisses your appeal, there won’t be a hearing, and we’ll close your appeal file. You’ll get the summary dismissal decision in writing. Service Canada’s reconsideration decision will remain valid.

You can appeal the member’s decision. If you want to appeal their decision, you have to appeal to the Appeal Division. The Appeal Division is the second level in the appeal process after the General Division.

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