Évolution de la clientèle de la rente d'invalidité de 1970 à 2010

(Changes in disability pension clientele from 1970 to 2010; French only)

This study (available in French only) looks at historical data related to beneficiaries of the disability pension paid under the Québec Pension Plan. It reveals certain trends over the past decades with respect to :

Number of applications

From 1970 to 2010, more than 520 000 applications for a disability pension were processed. The number of applications increased considerably between 1970 and 2003, to reach 21 300 applications in 2003, to then slightly decrease. In 2010, 16 700 applications were filed. Throughout the years, the number of applications for a disability pension filed by women has not stopped increasing. The increase can be explained by the ever growing number of women on the labour market.

The application for a disability pension acceptation rate has varied since 1970 but has remained low and stable since 2002. For the past ten years, the acceptation rate has been around 60%. Furthermore, the medical eligibility rate, which only includes applications for a disability pension that meet administrative eligibility criteria, reached about 75% in past years.  

The average processing delay for an application for a disability pension has only been taken into account since 1997. However, it seems to have recently increased considerably since it has shot up from about 82 days between 2010 and 2012 to 165 days according to data from October 2014.

Number of beneficiaries

The number of disability pension beneficiaries has been increasing since the Québec Pension Plan came into effect, reaching 78 900 beneficiaries in 2010.

The changes in the number of new beneficiaries per year can be grouped into 3 periods:

  • From 1970 until 1984 there was a rapid increase in the number of new beneficiaries. The number increased from 1 800 in 1970 to 11 500 in 1984, the year in which changes were made regarding eligibility of persons aged 60 to 64 .
  • From 1985 until 1990 there was a decrease in the number of beneficiaries.
  • From 1991 to 1999 the number of new beneficiaries per year has increased, reaching approximately 10 000 as of 1999. This increase can be explained to a great extent by the fact that the contribution requirements to qualify became less strict as of 1 July 1993.
  • From 2000 to 2010 the number of new beneficiaries slightly varied and averaged about 10 800 per year. However, since 2006, there was a constant decrease in clientele from 11 100 to 9 600 in 2010.

Since women are more and more present in the labour market, there are also more women becoming eligible for a disability pension. In 2010, 47% of new beneficiaries were women. In 1970, only 10% of beneficiaries were women.

Causes of disability

The illnesses for which disability pensions are granted under the Québec Pension Plan have changed over the period studied. Since the end of the 1990s, the three most frequent categories have been:

  • Musculoskeletal diseases
  • Mental health
  • Tumors

Inversely, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases have decreased considerably, in particular because of advances in medicine.

Incidence rates

The incidence rate is the relationship between the number of new beneficiaries in a given year and the population eligible for a disability pension in that year. The overall incidence rate for disability is higher for men than for women. However, the incidence rate for women between the ages of 40 and 49 has, for the past 15 years, exceeded that of men in the same age group. Furthermore, the overall incidence rate has decreased over the past ten years mainly as a result of improvements in the state of health of persons aged between 60 and 64 years. 

The incidence rate generally increases with age and reaches its maximum for persons age 60. Less strict eligibility requirements as of age 60 explains to a great extent this situation.

Reasons payment of the pension ends

Payment of a disability pension ends when the beneficiary dies or recovers his or her health, or when it is converted to a retirement pension at age 65.


Payment of a disability pension ending because of death occurred less often for women than for men until 1999. However, since that year, there has been a greater likelihood of deaths among women than among men. Furthermore, death occurs more often during the first years of disability and the persons who die are more frequently the ones with tumors.   


The relative frequency of pensions ending because a beneficiary has recovered his or her health is low because in order to become entitled to a pension in the first place, the illness must be severe and prolonged.

Reaching age 65

More and more disabled persons (currently over 65%) reach age 65 as a consequence of the gradual decrease in the pension termination rate over time.

Effects of disability

The distribution of income sources following disability is analyzed for applications for disability pensions (rejected or accepted) filed from 2007 to 2009. The study presents the different income sources available to applicants before and after they file their application for a disability pension: total income, employment earnings, salary insurance, other types of disability income (CSST, SAAQ), employment insurance, retirement savings, retirement pension under the Québec Pension Plan (QPP) and social assistance.

With the exception of the QPP, the program which grants eligibility to the largest number of disabled persons following a rejection or acceptation of an application for a disability pension under the Plan is the social assistance program, especially for persons under age 60. This is even more common for persons whose application was rejected. Nearly half of the applicants aged between 50 and 59 whose application was rejected benefit from social assistance within the year their application was filed and in following years. Social assistance is therefore the most important source of income for those applicants.

As for employment earnings, about 30% of persons whose application was accepted receive employment earnings after payment of their disability pension begins. Only half of the applicants who are not entitled to a disability pension return to the labor market after their application has been rejected. That decrease is slightly greater for persons aged between 50 and 54. About 45% return to work after their application has been rejected.

As of age 60, most persons whose application has been rejected are entitled to the retirement benefit under the QPP. The amounts stemming from retirement savings are also an important complementary source of income for all age groups and all types of rejected or accepted applications.

For everything you need to know...

Consult the study (French only)

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