Is It Worth It? Let Me Work It: Working While Receiving CPP-D Benefits


Caitlin Wright

By Caitlin Wright

Federal Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) designation is determined by whether or not an individual’s disability is severe and prolonged, and prevents them from maintaining regular, gainful employment. We here at TAPS have been getting a number of inquiries about whether or not a person can remain eligible for CPP-D benefits and maintain some level of employment. There are a number of variables to consider if you are a recipient of CPP-D benefits and want to continue or resume working.


Do I have to report my monthly income?

It is your responsibility to contact the CPP-D program if you begin any type of paid employment. However, you do not have to report monthly income until you have reached a specific annual income level, which fluctuates year to year. In previous years it was $5400; for 2017 the annual income amount at which you have to start reporting is $5500. Please note that the CPP-D program is administered by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and you can report to ESDC through any Service Canada office.


I’ve reported to Service Canada that I’ve made $5500. What now?

Once you have reported earnings of $5500, a consultation with the CPP-D program will begin. This does not mean that your CPP-D benefits will automatically be cancelled. Instead, a CPP-D program representative will contact you for specific information about your work, including the type of work you are doing (for example, casual or part-time), the amount of work, how gainful it is (i.e., how much money you earn), how capable you are of performing job tasks, and whether it’s likely that you will be continuing this work for the foreseeable future.


Does CPP-D offer any programs to help me return to work?

CPP-D offers the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. This program is voluntary, and provides vocational training, financial support for training, and job search services to people who are highly motivated to return to work. It offers opportunities for retraining, educational upgrading, and for learning new skills for self-employment. You may also complete a vocational assessment to evaluate your ability to return to paid employment, and be set up with a “return to work plan”. You will continue to receive your regular CPP-D benefits while enrolled in this program.


Can I return to work on a trial basis?

When you return to paid employment, the first three months are considered a trial period. During this trial period, you will still receive your CPP-D benefits as normal. At the end of this period, there will be an assessment of whether or not you are capable of returning to regular, gainful employment. This determination is done on a case-by-case basis, and will take your specific situation into consideration. At this point, if it is determined that you are capable of regular, gainful employment, your CPP-D benefits will be terminated.


My benefits were terminated after I returned to work, but my disability has reoccurred. What can I do?

If your CPP-D benefits are terminated, and you then find that you are unable to continue working due to a reoccurrence of the same or a related disability, you can ask for what is called “automatic reinstatement”.  Automatic reinstatement is a streamlined process that allows you to get your benefits back without having to complete a new CPP-D application. However, automatic reinstatement can only occur if:

  • your benefits stopped less than two years ago due to a return to work;
  • you cannot continue to work because the same or a related disability has reoccurred;
  • you are under age 65; and
  • you are not currently receiving CPP retirement pension benefits.

There is no limit to the number of times you can ask to have your benefits reinstated, but you must apply for reinstatement within one year of the month in which you stopped working due to a reoccurrence of your disability.

At the time you were deemed capable of regular, gainful employment, and your CPP-D benefits were terminated, you should have received the two forms you will need to apply for automatic re-instatement: one form which you fill out, detailing why you cannot continue working due to the reoccurrence of your disability; the other form to be completed by a physician, confirming that your disability or a related disability has reoccurred. If you do not have these forms, simply ask for them through Service Canada.

Unfortunately, if your disability reoccurs after the two-year re-instatement window, you will need to re-apply for CPP-D benefits.


I receive both PWD and CPP-D benefits. Who do I report my income to?

Person With Disabilities (PWD) is the disability benefit available through the provincial Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR). Some people receive both PWD and CPP-D benefits, with the amount they receive from CPP-D being subtracted from their PWD assistance.

If you receive both PWD and CPP-D benefits, you must report your employment income to both MSDPR and ESDC. MSDPR requires that you report every month where you have income or a change in circumstance. ESDC requires that you notify them once you start paid work and again if you exceed or anticipate exceeding $5500 in annual income.


I receive both PWD and CPP-D benefits. Now my CPP-D benefits are being terminated because I have been deemed capable of regular, gainful employment. What happens now?

As a client of MSDPR, you are eligible for the $12,000 annualized earnings exemption. However, you may run into trouble if you are working at a capacity that ESDC finds to be regular and gainful, as they could then discontinue your CPP-D benefits. If your CPP-D benefits are terminated because ESDC has determined that you are capable of regular, gainful employment, simply bring the documentation stating that your CPP-D benefits are being terminated to MSDPR. Your PWD should then be restored to the amount your family is eligible for.


What if I was approved for PWD as a member of a “prescribed class” and now my CPP-D is being terminated?

People who are already on CPP-D benefits can be approved for PWD benefits without having to fill out the full PWD application form. These people are approved for PWD as members of a “prescribed class”. If you were approved for PWD as a member of a “prescribed class”, your PWD benefits are not jeopardized by the termination of your CPP-D benefits. Again, as in the previous section, if your CPP-D benefits are terminated, bring the relevant documentation to MSDPR and your PWD should then be restored to the amount your family is eligible for.

If you have any questions about CPP-D benefits and returning to work, please contact Caitlin or Daniel at TAPS at 250-361-3521.