Can I get CPP disability benefits?

Learn what to do if you don’t meet the CPP’s contribution requirements

To be eligible to get disability benefits, you must have made contributions to the CPP. This means that you paid money into the CPP either:

  • for 4 of the last 6 years, or
  • for 3 of the last 6 years, if you contributed for at least 25 years.

If you were self-employed

If you were self-employed, you should have made contributions to your CPP both as the employer and the employee. If you have not done this, you might be able to pay for time that has already passed.

There are other rules, like deadlines, that you will need to follow. The Canada Revenue Agency will be able to tell you if you can make these contributions.

If you didn’t contribute for enough time

You may be able to get more pension contributions or use a different time period if, for example:

  • You stayed at home to look after your children. See the step called Find out what to do if you stayed at home with your children.
  • You’re separated or divorced, whether you were married or living common-law. See the step called Find out if you can get some of your former partner’s pension contributions.
  • You stopped working a long time ago.
  • You were not able to apply for CPP because you have a physical or mental disability.
  • You lived and worked in another country.

If you stopped working a long time ago

If you’re eligible in every other way except you stopped working too long ago, you may still be eligible for .

This is called the “late applicant provision”.

To apply based on this, you must:

  • have had enough years of CPP contributions when your disability started, and
  • have had your disability continuously the whole time. For example, if you were able to work for some time during the period, you can’t use the “late applicant provision”.

You don’t need to apply separately for the late applicant provision. It will automatically be considered if you apply late for CPP Disability benefits.

For more information, you can talk to a community legal clinic or contact the CPP.

If you could not apply because of limits to your physical or mental abilities

CPP may consider backdating your application if you were so severely incapacitated that you could not apply or ask someone else to apply for you. In order to use this exception, you must not have been able to even think about applying. It is not enough if you were just not able to apply. For example, if you were in a coma, you could use this exception.

But you must apply within one year of when you became able to apply.

For more information, contact the CPP.

If you lived and worked in another country

If you paid into a pension plan in another country, this may help you qualify for CPP disability benefits. Some pension plans count towards CPP contributions in Canada.

The government of Canada has a guide that explains what to do if this applies to you.

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