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The federal government is reforming the tribunal that handles appeals related to employment insurance, Canadian Pension Plan and old-age security payments.

Currently, Canadians who disagree with decisions by Employment and Social Development Canada or the Canada Employment Insurance Commission relating to these payments, as well as CPP disability benefits, can appeal to the tribunal’s general division. If the appeal is unsuccessful, they can go through a second level with the tribunal’s appeal division, but can’t introduce any new evidence.

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Among its changes, the government will be hiring trained case navigators who will help Canadians through the appeal process.

The government is also allowing people who are making appeals related to OAS, CPP and CPP disability benefits to introduce new evidence at the second-level appeals that wasn’t present in the first level. “This approach, commonly called de novo, better responds to the nature of disability claims by recognizing that new medical evidence can emerge over time,” the government said in a news release.

Appellants for OAS, CPP and CPP disability benefits will also now have up to two years to gather information for a first-level appeal, up from just one year previously.

The government is also introducing a first-level EI appeal tribunal called the Employment Insurance Boards of Appeal, which will be managed by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. Any second-level appeals will be heard by the tribunal.

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The changes come after a 2017 review of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada by KMPG found the tribunal needed to be more efficient and effective for vulnerable Canadians. The tribunal began operating in April 2013 and replaced four administrative tribunals that made appeal decisions related to EI, OAS CPP and CPP disability.

In the 2019 federal budget, the government committed $253.8 million over five years to changes aimed at making the appeals process simpler and more responsive to navigate.

The changes will come into effect in April 2021.

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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