Social Security Tribunal of Canada

Other CPP Appeal Division: Your reasons for appealing

If you agree with everything in the General Division decision, there’s no reason to appeal. If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal, but only for specific reasons.

You can’t appeal to the Appeal Division simply because you don’t agree with the General Division decision. If you appeal, explain clearly how the Social Security Tribunal (SST)’s General Division member (the decision-maker) made a mistake in the General Division decision. You have to base your arguments on 1 of 4 grounds of appeal. You can’t argue the same thing that you argued at the General Division.

Ground 1: Natural justice

Legal wording The General Division failed to observe a principle of natural justice.
Plain language wording The General Division didn’t follow a fair process.

What’s natural justice?

Natural justice is about fair process. This includes things like the right to see all the evidence, the right to make your case, and the right to an impartial (unbiased) decision-maker. 

Here are examples of mistakes the General Division could make, based on this ground:

Example: You didn’t get all the documents

The General Division didn’t give Rachael copies of all of the documents Service Canada used to make its reconsideration decision or that it gave the SST for the hearing.

Example: The hearing happened without you

The General Division held a hearing, but Imani didn’t get a Notice of Hearing telling her about it.

Ground 2: Error of jurisdiction

Legal wording The General Division acted beyond or refused to exercise its jurisdiction.
Plain language wording The General Division acted beyond or refused to exercise its jurisdiction.

What’s 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.

Here are examples of mistakes the General Division could make, based on this ground:

Example: The General Division didn’t decide an issue under appeal

Service Canada decided that Jimin wasn’t entitled to a survivor’s pension or death benefit, after his partner died. Jimin appealed to the General Division. The General Division decided that Jimin would get the survivor’s pension. But the General Division didn’t make any decision at all about whether Jimin should get the death benefit. That was an error of jurisdiction. The General Division had to decide both issues that Jimin had properly appealed.

Example: The General Division made a decision about writing off money owed

The General Division decided that Greta should not have to pay money she owes because she doesn’t have that money. The General Division said the amount should be written off. The General Division can’t decide that. That’s up to the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada to decide. 

Ground 3: Error of law

Legal wording The General Division erred in law in making its decision, whether or not the error appears on the face of the record.
Plain language wording The General Division didn’t apply the law correctly.

What’s an error of law?

An error of law happens when the General Division:

  • makes a decision using part of the legislation (laws from Parliament) that doesn’t actually apply to your situation
  • makes a decision using an interpretation of binding case law (established law from a court) that doesn’t apply to your situation
  • doesn’t apply the correct law
  • uses the correct law, but misunderstands what it means or how to apply it

Here are examples of mistakes the General Division could make, based on this ground:

Example: The General Division used the wrong legal test

Alex and Kim lived together as common-law partners for a long time, but they separated just before Kim died. A CPP survivor pension is usually for the person who’s your spouse or common-law partner when you die. The law explains how to determine whether people are common-law partners. The General Division used a different set of requirements when considering whether Alex and Kim were common-law partners when Kim died. This is an error of law.

Example: The General Division didn’t consider a special exception

Reema has severe dementia. Her son didn’t apply for her CPP retirement pension on her behalf until she was 75. Reema’s son had medical reports explaining that Reema had been unable to form or express an intention to apply for the pension, for the past 10 years. The General Division said Reema could get only 11 months of retroactive retirement pension payments. It didn’t consider the part of the law that allows for payments going further back, in cases of incapacity. This is an error of law. 

Ground 4: Error of fact

Legal wording The General Division based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact that it made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard for the material before it.
Plain language wording The General Division got important facts wrong because it overlooked or misunderstood evidence.

What’s an error of fact?

The General Division has to review and consider all the evidence before deciding what facts it accepts. This is called “finding the facts” or “making a finding of fact.” When the General Division makes a finding of fact that’s important to its decision, but ignores or misunderstands evidence about that fact, that’s an error of fact.

Here are examples of mistakes the General Division could make, based on this ground:

Example: The General Division didn’t consider important evidence

Leila said she was living with Jacob in a common-law relationship when he died. Based on that, the General Division decided that Leila is entitled to a CPP survivor pension. In the file, there were tax returns, a court order for spousal support, a separation agreement and an affidavit, showing that Leila and Jacob had separated last year. The General Division didn’t mention any of this in its decision. The General Division got the facts wrong because it ignored important evidence. That’s an error of fact.

Example: The General Division mixed up important dates

The General Division decided that Jamal turned 60 years old on May 6, 1996, and decided he was entitled to a CPP retirement pension as of 1996. But the document the General Division relied on to make that decision says that he turned 60 years old in 1997. The General Division mixed up important dates on file. That’s an error of fact. 

New evidence isn’t a ground of appeal

At the Appeal Division, new evidence isn’t a ground of appeal. You have to show that the General Division made a mistake based on 1 of the 4 grounds of appeal. To do that, you have to use evidence the General Division had. The Appeal Division can’t look at new evidence about your claim for benefits.

Sometimes, you can ask the General Division to consider new facts and reopen your General Division decision.

Learn about reopening a decision and the limited circumstances when that’s allowed

You can apply to reopen a General Division decision and appeal the same decision to the Appeal Division at the same time. 

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