Minister of Employment and Social Development v. L. A.

Institution:
Social Security Tribunal decision - Appeal Division
Member:
Valerie Hazlett Parker
Hearing date:
N/A
Hearing type:
N/A
Between:
Minister of Employment and Social Development and L. A.
Decision:
Application for leave to appeal is granted
Decision date:
December 5, 2017
Reference number:
AD-17-616
Citation:
Minister of Employment and Social Development v. L. A., 2017 SSTADIS 707

Other decision(s) related to this appeal:

Reasons and decision

Introduction

[1] The Respondent applied for a Canada Pension Plan disability pension. She claimed that she was disabled by osteoarthritis of her back and neck, osteoporosis, supra-ventricular tachycardia, anxiety, and depression. The Applicant denied her application initially and on reconsideration. The Respondent appealed the reconsideration decision to the Social Security Tribunal. On June 9, 2017, the Tribunal’s General Division decided that the Respondent was disabled under the Canada Pension Plan. The Applicant filed an application for leave to appeal (Application) with the Appeal Division of the Tribunal on September 7, 2017.

Analysis

[2] The Department of Employment and Social Development Act (DESD Act) governs the operation of this Tribunal. According to subsections 56(1) and 58(3) of the DESD Act, an appeal to the Appeal Division may be brought only if leave to appeal is granted, and the Appeal Division must either grant or refuse leave to appeal.

[3] The only grounds of appeal available under the DESD Act are set out in subsection 58(1). They are that the General Division failed to observe the principles of natural justice, made an error of law, or based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard to the material before it. Subsection 58(2) states that leave to appeal is to be refused if the appeal has no reasonable chance of success.

[4] The Applicant argues that the General Division erred in law and based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact made in a perverse or capricious manner and without regard to the material before it. In particular, it contends that the General Division erred as it diagnosed the Respondent with cognitive deficits in the absence of any pertinent medical evidence, and that it relied on this finding to conclude that she was disabled under the Canada Pension Plan.

[5] The Canada Pension Plan Regulations require that a claimant provide medical evidence to support their claim that they are disabled. In this case, the Respondent claimed that she was disabled by a number of medical conditions, but not by any cognitive deficits. She provided medical evidence regarding the medical conditions she had listed in her application documents. The General Division may have erred in law by concluding that the Respondent was disabled, at least in part, by cognitive deficits for which there was no medical evidence. Leave to appeal should be granted on this basis.

[6] Furthermore, the Tribunal member decided, after simply hearing testimony from the Respondent and without any corroborating medical evidence, that her observation of the Respondent at the hearing was sufficient for her to conclude that the Respondent suffered from cognitive deficits and that these deficits existed at the minimum qualifying period (the date by which a claimant must be found to be disabled to receive the disability pension). The decision that the Respondent was disabled was based, at least in part, on these findings of fact.

[7] The Canada Pension Plan does not define the terms “perverse” or “capricious”, which are used to describe erroneous findings of fact in section 58 of the DESD Act. However, from a plain reading of these terms, I am satisfied that such errors need to be significant, and not in line with the evidence that was presented. I am satisfied that the General Division findings of fact that the Respondent had cognitive deficits, that these existed at the minimum qualifying period, and that they were such that they impacted on her ability to obtain or maintain work, may have been erroneous and contrary to section 58 of the DESD Act. This ground of appeal may have a reasonable chance of success.

Conclusion

[8] The Application is granted as the Applicant has presented grounds of appeal that may have a reasonable chance of success on appeal.

[9] This decision to grant leave to appeal does not presume the result of the appeal on the merits of the case.

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