New rules to fast-track disability payments for terminally ill Canadians

Decision to rewrite the policy is aimed at untangling problems that lead to slow decisions

The federal government will set a new test for fast-tracking disability pension requests from Canadians with terminal illnesses.

The $4.3 billion Canada Pension Plan disability program fast tracks benefits decisions for dying Canadians, but has faced hurdles in meeting the processing timelines.

Now, the government plans to change the rules in a few weeks to grant an expedited review to people whose doctors believe have just six months left to live.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the access to information law show the decision to rewrite the policy is aimed at untangling problems in how the government decides who deserved a speedy decision.

A briefing note earlier this year to senior officials in Employment and Social Development Canada notes that the department’s definition of terminal illness was problematic enough that it may have clogged up the fast-track system.

Auditor general Michael Ferguson’s February 2016 review of the disability pension program found people with terminal or grave conditions were waiting too long for benefits, or being snowed under by complicated paperwork.

The Canadian Press

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