- Browse the Benefits wayfinder to find benefits that are relevant to your community and review the documentation that is required to obtain them. For example, if you primarily serve seniors, click on the “senior / retired person” Starting Point on the main page to find related benefits and the documentation required.
- Familiarize yourself with the common types of identification
- Review the relevant benefit application, maintenance and appeal forms and what documentation is required to complete them. Perhaps create sample forms for reference.
- Create a guide on how to obtain documents in your community and develop relationships with these agencies to help make positive referrals or to seek information or clarification for your clients.
- Create resources for your staff to use and share with clients around benefit application, maintenance and appeal.
- Create a handout for community members with the most common benefits accessed in your area and a checklist of the documentation required for each one, for both application and maintenance. Remember to include information on where to go should one need to access or apply for this documentation.
- Allocate time for staff to meet with clients one-on-one to review what documents are needed and the process for acquiring the documentation, if required.
- You should be prepared to deal with specific and complicated situations for each client, especially if it is an appeals process. Or, if this is beyond your scope, know where you can refer your client to receive this kind of assistance.
- Helping to gather benefit documentation requirements can range from providing clients with resources to seek needed documents on their own to supporting them throughout the entire process. This could include making calls, following up with local agencies, responding to letters, and advocating for clients when needed. You will need to decide what level of service you would like to provide based on the clients/community you serve, as well as your capacity.
- Sometimes it is complicated to identify what documents are needed for a client, however, generally this information is available. The more difficult and time-consuming part is gathering the necessary documentation.
- People in vulnerable situations may have experienced trauma and may not be willing to talk or work with you on benefits unless they can trust you. Properly supporting these clients takes time and understanding of trauma-informed practices, as well as their complete consent.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may request documents to confirm things when a person is applying for benefits, such as marital status, residency or citizenship. This website can assist with understanding what documents are acceptable.
Often people are denied disability benefits on their first application. Check out the Disability Benefits Navigator for tips on how to appeal if denied the Canada Pension Plan – Disability Benefit. (Click on the tab that says, “If your application is denied.”
There is also information on other disability benefits as well, including the Disability Tax Credit.