Chronic Fatigue / Cancer, CPPD & Gainful Employment Questions

I was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was 27 years old, about 5 years ago. I had many complications from the surgeries, infections, and spent roughly a year in a hospital bed. I was off and on LTD through my private insurer throughout the past 5 years as I tried to get back in the work force.

About 2 years ago I tried to go back to work full-time but I could not handle full time hours and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So currently I am working 10 hours a week while private insurance covers the rest.

By all accounts I am eligible for CPP disability, with the exception that I would be considered gainfully employed as my earnings from work are above the maximum allowable earnings (more employment income than CPPD would pay out, but just barely). I maxed CPP every year from 2007 -2017 except for 1 year when I was collecting LTD from a hospital bed. The past year (2018) I was on modified work with low pensionable earnings but still to high enough to be considered gainfully employed.

What I am worried about is if my condition deteriorates and I am no longer able to work part time is that my CPP disability will be greatly reduced because my pensionable earnings will be low for 2018 and on. If CPP disability is based on pensionable earnings in 4 out of the past 6 years it probably won’t amount to much, as most of my pay is from my insurance company. My LTD through private insurance is not indexed to inflation, so CPP disability would be ideal if I can no longer work at all. Is there anything I can do right now, such as voluntarily top up my CPP just in case my condition deteriorates to ensure maximum CPP disability. Are there any exceptions to the gainfully employed rule as I am not even close to working full-time (10 hours/week)? Can/should I apply for CPP disability regardless?

I am pretty young, inflation is really going to be a big problem for me down the road, CPP disability could help mitigate some of that risk. Not to mention how much CPP disability will help out when/if I reach retirement age.

I know this is a lot of information to unpack, just worried about the future.

I don’t know but good luck.

Some ideas:

Apply for the disability tax credit and then open an RDSP.

Save in a RRSP.

Get private disability insurance (be careful about preexisting conditions).

The 4 of 6 years is just to determine eligibility for CPPD, but it is not how the CPP disability benefit amount is calculated. The CPP benefit amount considers your total contributions to CPP. Certainly having lower contributions in recent years will result un a lower overall contributions amount and benefit payment.

I don’t believe a person can pay more into CPP that is allowed based on earnings, but that is something you could ask Service Canada.

There are very limited exceptions to the gainful income rule. You would need to show you are in a sheltered work setting and “not really” doing any productive work (called benevolent employer situation) or that you are paid for work, but not really working at all (we see this with family businesses where income is assigned to a person not doing much work). It doesn’t sound like either of these fit for you.

THe CPP gainful threshold is a hard number. It use to be more subjective, but regulations were brought in in 2014 to just make it a hard number to determine gainful / not gainful for CPPD.

David Brannen

Disability Lawyer with Resolute Legal

The response posted above is based on the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with a lawyer, fully explain your situation, and allow the lawyer enough time to research the applicable law and facts required to give an adequate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full one-on-one discussion with a lawyer should be done before taking any any action. The information posted on this forum is available to the viewing public and is not intended to create a lawyer client relationship with any person. If you want one-on-one advice, please click here to request a free consultation or call toll free 1-877-282-5188 to speak with a member with our disability claim support team.