Loss of over $600/m of my CF Pension Bridge Benefit to give LTD insurance my CPP Disability

Hi there, have not seen this one yet! I have been on LTD disability with Sunlife for over 2 years now and they want me to apply for CPP disability. Fine, no problem except that my Canadian Forces Pension (CF) will be reduced by over $600 of the bridge benefit portion. Once you have a CF or Public Service Pension, a portion of that pension is the bridge until one gets CPP. My point is that overall my family income will be reduced because Sunlife really does not care that applying for CPP will reduce my pension, CPP does not really care because they are just awarding the money to Sunlife and have no power to resolve, and the CF Pension people really do not care because the rules are that once I collect (eventhough it is Sunlife collecting) CPP, I will owe months of backdated bridge benefit payments. These bridge payments have already been spent, yet Sunlife will want me to knit this for them. Any advice? I think there is a hole in the contract between the federal gov’t and Sunlife to say CPP disability benefits can be claimed except the bridge benefit portion. thanx so much!

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The CPP bridge payment issue is a major problem for the reasons you describe. There is no easy answer. I am actually researching the issue and plan to publish an article on this issue in the coming months but as of right now I can’t really offer an opinion because this issue is extremely complex given the interaction of various legislation, regulations, insurance policy and pension plan. I get extremely frustrated because the disability plans for first responders, and Canadian Forces members in particular, are overly convoluted and result in unfairness much of the time.

I recently sued a disability insurer over the Canadian Forces disability plan and even that insurer didn’t know what to do because the plan (and all the other regulations that affect it) are so convoluted, and so few forces members ever take legal action that even the insurer was at a loss of what to do. The case is ongoing so I can’t really give any details, but it is very eye opening.

I sincerely thank you for your service and I will give you the heads up once I have a better answer!

David, thank you so much for your prompt reply. Yes, I feel all alone in this endeavour because of course CFSA nor CPP feel they have any issue with this. My conversations with these organizations have fell flat in that they have no jurisdiction in the matter. I have contact my MP also. The insurance company replied with "your military pension from CAF and DI benefits are unrelated. SunLife is following the terms of the 12500 policy contract with respect to the “Amount of Monthly Benefit”, “Other Income” and “Estimates of Monthly Income”. I guess that I could put in less than a stellar CPP disability application with the hopes of being denied as being approved is detrimental financially. I look forward in seeing if you can make any headway on this issue and if there is any way that I can help please do not hesitate to ask. Best Regards, :slight_smile:

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If you get denied CPP-D then I would think Sunlife has grounds to cut off your disability payments.
The reverse is apparently not true, getting CPP-D does not mean Sunlife has to continue your disability payments.

CPP-D is a much harder definition of disability than most Insurance policies. Getting denied CPP-D is not grounds to lose LTD coverage.

Hi David, I just discussed this matter with my MP who I thought could have some reach on this issue to no avail. They all just quote the legislation and no one organization can influence the other to see that over $600 per month from my bridge that will be taken by both Sun life and CFSA is unfair to me. Have you any further suggestions? Is this something I would have to pursue federal court about to say that either CFSA or Sun life needs to get the $600 but not both? Thanx. Cherylynn

Cherylynn, I am sorry to deflect your questions on this but it is a complex issue that a lawyer would need to spend a lot of time reviewing the various legislation and pension plan text and disability plan text to understand enough give proper answers. There is likely no clear answer and would be open to interpretation. Assuming you were/ are a member of a union, and your situation is governed by a collective agreement, you will have significant limits on how you could pursue this in court – you would need to pursue the issue via the process set out in your collective agreement. Grievances and arbitrations I expect.

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 reliabile 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.

I too am affected by this very situation.
I have been awarded CPP-D but now owe a large sum to Manulife/SISIP and CRA.

I was forced to apply and I am now worse off.
SISIP payment reduced :x:
CFSA pension reduced (bridge benefit) :x:
CRA huge tax bill :x:
CPP-D not enough to offset losses :interrobang:

Can we start a class-action ?

Given I am an Afghan Combat-Vet it might play in the media against the liberals.

I think you can share you story here. It’s quite interesting to read. They get a lot of attention.

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Have you been able to discuss with anyone? I think a good idea but will need to get a few more people affected by this? Thanx for your input.

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salute to our Vet!
Totally agree with you.
The government treat the “Abnormal entrance” Refugee so generous, but so mean to the LTD people.


SISIP is your Long Term Disability, right?
CPP-D should be the amount that is reduced by (but you pay tax).
If you don’t have the disability tax credit, get it, it will lower your tax rate.
As for your CFSA pension, I don’t mean to be unkind but your union agreed/was forced to agree to that.

The cost of premiums to the tax payer would have been much higher (too high in the government’s opinion).
I don’t think a class-action suit will get anywhere because it looks like it has been this way since at least 2007.
I think the media will get attention but I am cynical and I doubt it will do any good.
The time to complain about this stuff is before you need it.
I blame the healthy people that don’t need it that agreed to it.

Hi Jammer, the problem with the bridge benefit is this:
the LTD company gets the entire cppd payment which now includes the bridge from the CF pension, so in fact total income is being reduced by the bridge benefit. The LTD insurance plan should stipulate that they can have the cppd benefit minus any bridge benefit attached to it. OR the LTD company can go after the CF for it. In my case CF will want it by reducing my pension and LTD sucks up all of the CPPD. I am not sure if the designers of these plans thought that through so as not to detriment the pensioner. thanx.

Why does CPP-D include the bridge?
It is not the same thing so I don’t think it should be treated as the same thing

Mine says:

Step 2: We subtract any income provided to you:
for the same or a subsequent disability under any government-
sponsored plan, excluding dependent benefits, employment
insurance benefits and automatic cost-of-living increases under
any government-sponsored plan that occur after benefits begin.

I think the designers are well aware of what they are doing.

Would you be better of retiring and taking your lifetime pension plus CPP-D?

Yes this can get confusing, so if anyone else is peeping in I will break it down as best as I know.
CFSA = $x + bridge benefit. The bridge benefit is the so called extra amount given until CPP or CPPD and why for a CFSA pensioner it is not really beneficial to collect earlier than 65yrs.
CPPD is a set amount based on your years of earnings up to a max of about $1250/m (approx)
So, when you get CPP/D, your CF pension reduces by the bridge amount because they assume you are getting all of the CPP/D so really your income does go up overall because the CPP/D is greater than the bridge.
Now, comes LTD who determines the 70% overall salary guarantee. They will take into account (I believe) your now reduced CFSA plus your CPPD benefit and minus it from their payment to you. In this model the person should not lose or gain anything but will however, have to redo some taxes to get credit for the bridge payments given retroactively. One could get up to 24 months of retroactive payments. The problem is CFSA wants the bridge portion of those retro payments because they were considered a bridge that you are now getting paid through by CPP/D; however, LTD has already sucked them up by reducing your benefit LTD accordingly.
BUT the bigger problem is this (and in my case), I am not with a CF LTD provider (SISIP/Manulife). I worked after my CF career and have now benefits through the Public Svc LTD plan. This plan cannot touch your CF Pension as part of their 70% formula (because it is 70% of my Public Svc salary), but CFSA does reduce your CF Pension by the bridge benefit if one receives CPP/D. In effect, the result is an overall salary reduction of the CFSA bridge benefit.
Ironically, there is no “bridge” for coordination between these departments of Service Canada who are only responsible for giving you the CPPD and CFSA who only care that they cut your bridge benefit. The LTD provider is keeping their costs down at the public and disabled expense. I have even wrote to the Secretary of the LTD Plan who only regurgitated information already commonly known and not willing to offer solutions. For instance, they could at least amend their contracts for LTD not to include bridges in circumstances such as mine (likely uncommon but happens). Best Regards, I really need to get the attention of someone who can make a difference in this situation. :slight_smile:

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What they are doing seems “legal” but not “right”.

I don’t know if lawyers can do anything but think you should get a free consultation:

Hi Cherylynn,
I am exactly in the same situation as you. I medically retired from the military in 2007, and went to work for the public service. I was diagnosed with a medical condition unrelated to my previous service, and received LTD from Sunlife in 2015. They made me apply for CPP/D as well, and it was accepted, reducing my CFSA bridge benefit for CPP by $600 a month, same as you! My problems were compounded in that the CPP/D was backdated to 2013, so I also owed substantial back payments to both Sunlife LTD and CFSA. The back payment lump sum was automatically sent to Sunlife, and left me with a hefty bill to pay out to CFSA, as well as the monthly reduction.
I did seek legal advise at the time, but the situation seemed to be beyond the expertise of the person I contacted. They basically told me that there was nothing I could do. I find it very unfair that getting our CPP/D award should make us worse off than before we received it …
Have you found out any more information on our situation, and any possible legal recourse? Is there any one else out there with this specific problem, with maybe the possibility of a class-action law suit?


I am worse off although I did not start a 2nd career with the Public Service.

I was 3B released, on SISIP, forced to apply CPP-D, suprised I was approved.
Now big bills to CFSA ( BB ) and SISIP ( clawback ) and CRA.
CFSA reduced, SISIP reduced, LTD reduced.
Contacted VAC Ombudsman, and letter to VAC Minister ( nothing yet ).
Will prostitute myself to media for action.


Hi, yes we are in same boat. It sounds like you gave Sunlife irrevocable consent to your CPPD information. I did not. One thing you could have done is not put such a great application to CPPD and get rejected. This would have avoided the BB issue. I still don’t know my application status and yes I have tried several organizations for help all of which know its not fair but because the way the LTD contract is structured it does not leave any adjustments for people like us with an independent BB that will reduce our overall income (not just the PS one). So far I have written letters to: my MP (liberal), Federal Association of Retirees (FSNA), National Joint Council of the Public Service of Canada – Secretary to the Disability Insurance Plan Board Management (Catherine Molina) • Service Canada (who only care about the distribution of CPPD monies to me);CFSA (customer service because who else can I contact)- who only care that when I get CPPD, they want all the bridge back; and the LTD Company Sun life – who only care to offset as much benefit as possible onto the federal government (according to the contract).
I am at a bit of a loss on what to do. Everything is “Legal” but just not fair or sensible. I have also written a letter to a Senator over a month ago to no avail yet. I get a lot of jibberish from legal folks so at this point I am not sure where the “fix” for this would be but I am still working on it. What info have you been able to obtain? Perhaps we should move this conversation to our personal email. Mine is cherylynnhunt@gmail.com. Feel free to email me there. Great hearing from you.

Hi, yes the retro payments from CPPD are the issue for you because you already spent that but have to pay back what SISIP clawed back. My point has always been that the LTD company should go after CFSA for that because you cannot expect to pay two organizations for the same pot of money, Does your LTD payment reflect a now lessor CFSA payment? Recall 70% rule overall? Also have you worked out what you could get in ELB for VAC? It may be more money with VAC ELB especially where your benefit is based on 90% of your Service Salary (prorated to today). That way I would not pay SISIP a dime and let them fight you or preferably CFSA for any back payments attached with bridge benefits.
Recall ELB for VAC = 90%Service Salary - $CFSA-$CPPD. VAC does not force you to apply for CPPD so if you were to be approved with them you could terminate your CPPD and regain your bridge (theoretically, I have not yet asked that question). Let me know if I can help you more at cherylynnhunt@gmail.com