The COVID-19 epidemic continues its stranglehold on our world and our lives. With Ontario recently extending the Declaration of Emergency, we also know it will be some time yet before we get back to “normal.” In the meantime, COVID continues to impact our health and livelihoods in innumerable ways.
Even those fortunate not to have been infected by the virus face other COVID effects. This can be in the form of like anxiety and depression, burn-out and chronic fatigue. The question for many impacted by COVID becomes: can I apply for disability coverage? The answer is: it depends.
Short-term vs long-term disability
Disability insurance covers loss of income due to disability, whether a physical injury, an illness, or a psychological disorder. To fully understand your coverage, let’s first look at the distinction between short and long-term disability.
Short term-disability (STD) benefits provide income support and help cover expenses for a short period of time after your sick leave runs out. Most LTD benefits kick in within a few days to a week after the disability. They cover around 70% of one’s salary and last up to 6 months, though some can extend up to a year. Not every employer offers a policy with LTD coverage, however, relying instead on Employment Insurance benefits.
Long-term disability (LTD) benefits kick in after STD or EI benefits run out. The coverage is necessary if the disability makes it impossible for someone to return to work. The benefits can cover lost income as well as medical treatment and rehabilitation, depending on the specific policy. LTD benefits can last for up to two years if one is unable to work at their regular occupation. Moreover, if after those two years the disability prevents someone from working at any job, they can potentially receive benefits until they turn 65.
What your coverage includes
What coverage is available with both short-term and long-term insurance will depend on the policy at your place of work. Each policy will outline details such as:
- how much you will receive and for how long
- the definition of “disability”
- any limitations or exclusions preventing you from receiving benefits
What if COVID is preventing me from working?
The coronavirus can significantly impact your ability to work in a variety of ways. You may be infected by the virus, for example. Or you may be taking care of a loved one who contracted it. Your workplace may be unsafe due to an outbreak of the virus.
If you lost your job due to COVID, your former employer is required to maintain the LTD benefits you had while working. How long those benefits last will depend on your particular circumstance.
Keep in mind that if you’re applying for benefits due to being quarantined, you may be disappointed to find your claim denied. That’s because you can still work from home. Only if you’re unable to work due to a disability will you be eligible for benefits.
How to make a claim due to COVID
COVID can impact your health physically as well as emotionally and psychologically. It’s common to feel extreme stress, grief, anxiety and depression during this period of time.
If your medical professionals advise that COVID’s impact makes it impossible for you to work, you may be eligible for benefits. It is important to check your policy first to ensure COVID-related illnesses meet its definition of “disability”.
Apply for short-term disability first (if you have that coverage) or EI. Once those benefits run out, you can then file a claim for LTD benefits. Keep in mind, if you have a pre-existing disability claim, it has no effect on your COVID-related disability claim.
Of course, making a successful LTD claim is hard enough without the added complexities of COVID. But we can help should your insurer wrongfully deny your claims for benefits. For more information please contact Kaitlyn MacDonell at 647-260-4498 or firstname.lastname@example.org.