A woman with her head on her desk representing someone in need of long term disability from work

LTD & COVID-19 Part 2: Applying for Disability Benefits During COVID-19

For some of us, life during COVID-19 has gone on relatively normally in at least some ways, including work.  We may have continued to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, without much interruption.  We may have continued to earn our regular incomes.  

For many of us, however, our jobs may have changed or how we do them may have changed.  We may even have had a reduction or an increase in the hours we work and our duties may have increased or decreased, depending on what our job is.  

For others, COVID-19 may have changed our lives in immeasurable ways.  It may have resulted in being laid off or fired from our job or perhaps we’ve started a new job or started our own business. Still, others may have decided to quit their jobs during this pandemic due to COVID-19 or for some other reason. 

Whether or not you are working right now, there is always the risk of becoming disabled from work due to an illness or injury of any kind (not only due to COVID-19). If you have become disabled (for any reason) during the COVID-19 pandemic or if you are concerned that you may become disabled, you may be wondering if you are eligible to receive disability benefits.  

Below, we will aim to provide you with information, insights and various tips for applying for disability benefits during COVID-19.

What if I become disabled during COVID-19?

Just as in the days before COVID-19, if you are working then there is always the possibility that you will be forced to stop working due to disability.  The difference now may be that the duties of your job may have changed; your income may have changed, and your status as an employee or as self-employed may have also changed.

With all of these possible changes, your options and entitlements to various disability benefits may have also changed. Similarly, if you have been laid off, fired, quit your job or recently started a new job, and become disabled during COVID-19, you may wonder what if any benefits are available to you. 

If you are or you become disabled during the COVID-19 pandemic for whatever reason (not only due to contracting the virus), whether you have been working or not, it is important to understand your rights and options as they relate to disability benefits and other social assistance.  

You may be wondering…

  • Do I have short-term or long-term disability benefit coverage either privately or through my employer?
  • Am I eligible to apply for disability benefits through my individual or group disability insurance plan?
  • How could my benefits under my disability plan be affected by the recent changes to my job or changes to employment status due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Should I also apply for CERB if I become disabled from work?
  • When should I contact a disability insurance lawyer to help me?

Below, we will aim to answer these questions and provide you with the information, insight and invaluable tips you need to navigate your claims for disability benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Do I have short-term or long-term disability benefit coverage either privately or through my employer?

You may or may not have disability coverage.  There are many types of disability insurance coverages that provide an income if you become disabled from work (see our previous blog article “What if I Can’t Work due to COVID-19” for more details).  You may be eligible for some or all of the following disability benefits: 

  • Short-term disability (STD) 
  • Long-term disability (LTD)
  • Individual or Private disability
  • Creditor Disability
  • Social Assistance (CPP Disability, ODSP, OW, EI Sickness, CERB)

If you are an employee, your employer may have a group benefits plan.  Often under group insurance plans, STD and LTD benefits are provided to employees who become disabled from their jobs if they can satisfy the benefits administrator or insurance company that they are not functionally (physically/cognitively) able to do their job/occupation due to an illness or injury.  

TIP: You can check your group benefits booklet or your collective agreement to determine if you have STD and LTD coverage.

You should also contact your employer or their human resources department or your union (if you are unionized) to find out if you are covered under your employer’s group disability insurance policy and also ask to be provided with the necessary forms to apply for the benefits. 

If you are self-employed you may have purchased a private or individual disability insurance policy from an insurance company or a broker, or you might have coverage through your professional or trade organization.  You have been paying premiums for this coverage so it is important that you take advantage of it if you need it.  There may also be a “Residual Disability” or “Partial Disability” provision in your policy which pay you disability benefits while you continue to work in some limited capacity.  You will want to read your policy carefully with respect to your entitlements.

TIP: It should be easy to obtain a copy of your policy from your provider if you aren’t able to find it. 

You probably have a copy of your individual (private) insurance policy (either hardcopy or electronic) or, if you are not able to find it, you can obtain a copy through your broker or the insurance company who insures your disability benefit. You should also be able to obtain claims forms from your broker or directly from the insurance company website.  In addition to your medical records, you should also start gathering information about your earnings from previous years, as these will be needed to prove your claim.

When should I contact a disability insurance lawyer to help me?

If you become disabled during COVID-19 and you are considering applying for STD/LTD or if your STD/LTD has been denied or terminated, or if you have any questions regarding COVID-19 and your disability benefits, we encourage you to contact MK Disability Lawyers to discuss your options. 

Stay tuned to our blog next week, when we’ll provide further tips on the application process, how changes to your job as a result of COVID-19 could affect entitlements and other financial assistance options you may have.

If you would like to discuss your Long-Term Disability claim with a lawyer, MK Disability Lawyers LLP are experienced lawyers dedicated exclusively to the practice of LTD litigation.  We have represented disabled clients with a multitude of disabling conditions, working in various professions, against all major life/health insurance companies in Canada.  We would be happy to provide you with a free legal consultation.  

The preceding is not intended to be legal advice.  This blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice.  By using this blog, you understand that there is no solicitor-client relationship between you and the blog publisher.  The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer in your jurisdiction.  If your disability claim has been denied and you require legal advice, contact a lawyer specializing in disability law.