Announced in Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, the new Social Security Tribunal (SST) replaces the four, separate tribunals for social security appeals. It is an administrative tribunal with quasi-judicial powers and provides fair, credible, impartial and independent appeal processes for government decisions on Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS).
The new tribunal system simplifies and streamlines the process for appellants by providing them with a single decision-making body for EI, CPP and OAS appeals. The SST is led by a chairperson and three vice-chairpersons appointed by Governor in Council. The SST comprises two levels of appeal. For the first level of appeal, a vice-chairperson heads each of the EI and Income Security (CPP and OAS) sections of the General Division. The third vice-chairperson heads the Appeal Division, which is the second level of appeal. The Appeal Division decides appeals of decisions made by the General Division.
The first year of operations for the SST will be a transition period during which it will hear all new appeals while the four tribunals finalize and render decisions on cases already heard. More specifically, the EI Boards of Referees will continue to hear appeals filed (and not decided) before April 2013. These decisions must be issued no later than October 31, 2013. The CPP/OAS Review Tribunals, the Pension Appeals Board (PAB) and the EI Umpire will no longer hear any appeals but will render decisions on all cases heard up to March 31, 2013. Their decisions must be issued no later than March 31, 2014.
Appeals filed with the Office of the Commissioner of the Review Tribunals (OCRT), the PAB and the EI Umpire that were not heard by April 1, 2013, have been transferred to the SST. The SST is notifying appellants whose files have been transferred and providing them with additional information about the appeal processes.The transition period will be complete by April 1, 2014, at which time the SST will be the only body hearing and deciding appeals for EI, CPP and OAS. If any of the four tribunals is unable to meet the deadlines for issuing decisions, the SST will be responsible for outstanding cases. On March 12, 2013, Ms. Murielle Brazeau was appointed to the role of Chairperson of the SST, along with 34 full-time members, by the Governor in Council. Members have been appointed from all regions of the country to ensure fairness and regional distribution. Members of the SST are expected to maintain the public trust and avoid any conflicts of interest. These members are also supported by advisors with legal and medical expertise and have access to professional training.