I had COVID and I’m still feeling the effects. Can I make an LTD Claim?

Person in wheelchair holding a mask

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our lives in countless ways. Though already bracing for the next surge, Ontarians can at least breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the first wave appears to be behind us.

Yet for many Ontarians challenges remain. In an earlier article “Am I eligible for mental health disability benefits due to COVID-19?” we examined how the pandemic impacted the mental health of those with and without prior health conditions. The uncertainty, anxiety and stress from living indefinitely under the shadow of coronavirus has caused mental health issues to spike. For some, those issues have been so severe as to have prevented a return to work.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence and scientific studies are demonstrating that COVID-19 can cause physical long-term effects too. No question, the impact is real. But can that reality lead to long-term disability claims?

Long-term effects of COVID

While coronavirus symptoms typically resolve in two or three weeks, an estimated 1 in 10 experience prolonged symptoms, Dr. Helen Salisbury of the University of Oxford wrote in the British Medical Journal.

As she states, “If you previously ran 5k three times a week and now feel breathless after a single flight of stairs, or if you cough incessantly and are too exhausted to return to work, then the fear that you may never regain your previous health is very real.”

According to a group of scientists quoted in a Reuters article, patients with COVID-19 are not only suffering from respiratory distress, they also experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The piece goes on to say that the “virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion.”

A recent CTV news article examined the potential long-term effects of having COVID-19. It found a number of impacts including lung scarring from pneumonia, heart inflammation, irregular heartbeats, and worsening kidney and liver function. Some survivors of the virus have also experienced “post-intensive care syndrome” which can include persistent muscle weakness and memory problems.

Applying for LTD insurance

If you’ve had COVID-19 and are still suffering from its effects, you are not alone. And if those lingering impacts are making it too difficult for you to return to work, you may be eligible for long-term disability (LTD) benefits.

To prove eligibility under your employer’s insurance policy, you have to demonstrate that you are unable to work because of a medical condition, whether physical, psychological or otherwise. Be sure to get the support of your doctor or a medical specialist who can affirm your disability and inability to work.  Without their backing, an insurer will most likely deny your claim.

Typically, you would first need to prove that you cannot perform at your “own occupation” but if your symptoms persist after two years, you would then have to demonstrate that you’re incapable of performing “any occupation” you are qualified for by training, education and experience.

We’re here for you

If the COVID pandemic has affected you or the ones you love, it’s important to heed the advice of doctors in order to heal properly. That may mean taking some time away from work, a decision your employer – and insurer – should support.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 and short or long term disability benefits, or if your disability benefits have been denied, contact LTD lawyer Brad Moscato by e-mail at bmoscato@hshlawyers.com or by phone at 416-646-7655. Brad is the past chair of the LTD Section, Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. He is a partner at Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP and is dedicated to pursuing the rights of disabled and injured people throughout Ontario.

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