Disability benefits are meant to help you financially when you cannot work due to an illness or an injury. There are long term and short term disability benefits depending on the duration of your disability. Unfortunately, a large number of Canadians applying for disability benefits have their claims denied in the first instance. However, up to 45 percent of the claims are approved on appeal. Sometimes the denial of your claim could be legitimate and other times not. Actually being disabled is not enough to win your claim. The insurance company evaluates your application based on the medical records that you provide. Therefore, you should not take chances with your application. There are lawyers who specialize in disability claims and can help you through the entire process to ensure that you get your rightful benefits.
Short Term Disability Benefits in Canada
When you are disabled and as a result must be temporarily absent from work, you may be eligible for short term disability benefits to help you meet your financial needs. The benefits are usually part of a group disability benefits plan. If you are eligible, the insurance company will usually provide you weekly or bi-weekly payments which may be calculated as a percentage of your pre-disability earnings or a fixed amount (for example $500 per week). You can only receive short term disability benefits for a maximum of 3 to 6 months.
Long Term Disability Benefits in Canada
Long term disability benefits provide you monthly payments when you are absent from work for a long period of time due to a disability. To be eligible, you must be unable to work for a certain continuous period of time, usually 3 to 6 months- usually referred to as “waiting period” or “elimination period”. Your monthly payment may be calculated as a percentage of the salary you earned before you became disabled. It may also be a fixed monthly sum or a percentage of your pre-disability salary not exceeding a certain amount (e.g. 60% of your monthly salary up to $3500 per month). Your insurer does not arbitrarily fix the amount of your benefits but goes with what is provided in the insurance policy. The policy also provides the duration for which you will receive the benefits, which may be a fixed number of years or until you reach a certain age.
Lawyers that Help with Disability Claims
You may want the help of a lawyer from the onset or at a later stage. There are enough lawyers ready to help you at any stage of your claim process including where your initial application has been denied. Enlisting the services of a disability lawyer is a sure way of ensuring that you get your application approved without having to go through the stressful process alone.
How to Apply for Disability Benefits in Canada
There is nothing wrong with applying for your disability benefits without a lawyer, but if you decide to do so, you have to go an extra mile to ensure that you do not make mistakes that could hurt your application. Read the following steps carefully before making your claim.
Educate Yourself. You should start by learning about disability insurance benefits. Gather as much information as possible. Ask your employer, union or professional organization, to give you a copy of your group benefits booklet. They may give you the booklet or direct you to the website where you can download it. Make sure you read and understand it thoroughly.
Get a Medical Report from Your Doctor. Before leaving work, you must have the support of your doctor who must give a report explaining why you cannot continue working. The doctor should give an indication of how long you are likely to be off-work, which may be for a certain period of time or indefinitely.
Apply for Sick Leave. Once you have the written support of your doctor, write to your employer and request for sick leave. Attach a copy of your doctor’s report to your application to ensure that your job is protected under the Canadian Labour Laws and Human Rights Codes. Never resign from work, there is a big difference between being on sick leave and quitting the job. If you quit, you will lose your benefits.
Apply for Short Term Disability Benefits. After you have applied for sick leave, you should immediately apply for short term disability benefits. Sometimes, you will not get long term disability benefits until you have exhausted short term disability benefits.
Cooperate with the Insurance Company. Comply with all reasonable requests. Failure to comply without your doctor’s support may make the insurance company to deny your application for long term disability benefits. Once you get approved for short term disability benefits, your insurer will keep in touch with you and may:
- Ask for monthly updates
- Require that you attend appointments with their doctors
- Require you to enroll in their return to work program
- Apply for Long Term Disability Benefits The final step is preparing and submitting your long term disability benefits application. You should start preparing your application early enough to ensure that you have a smooth transition from short term disability benefits to long term disability benefits.