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What to know about your long term disability rights in the age of COVID-19

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Experts have warned of the increasing psychological toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians.

High levels of anxiety, stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues are expected to last long after the pandemic ends, meaning that more people will be applying for short-term and long-term disability.

As a disability lawyer, I anticipate that many insurance companies will not pay benefits when they should, potentially leaving many individuals financially devastated.

Knowledge, however, is power. What you know about your rights to claim short-term and long-term disability benefits could mean the difference between financial recovery and economic ruin.

READ MORE: Mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be ‘severe,’ expert warns

How disability policies can help during COVID-19 

Many Canadians suffering from the psychological effects of the pandemic have also been hit hard economically. Many have lost their jobs and many others are having difficulty coping with the social-distancing measures meant to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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At Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, our employment and long-term disability lawyers have helped thousands of individuals across Ontario and British Columbia who have lost their jobs or have been denied long-term disability.

Most short-term disability policies pay 70 to 80 per cent of your pre-disability income, and most long-term disability policies pay 60 to 70 per cent of your pre-disability income.

Disability insurance policies don’t come with COVID-19 exclusions

Travel insurance policies now exclude payments related to COVID-19 claims, but disability policies do not have such exclusions. In fact, they are obligated to pay you if you develop a disorder or illness that prevents you from working.

Most long-term disability policies require you to prove that you are disabled from performing the essential tasks of your own occupation in order to qualify for long-term disability benefits for the first two years.

After the two-year mark, most policies require you to prove that you are unable to perform any occupation for which you are suited by training, education or experience.

Insurance companies often deny claims on the basis that these requirements have not been met. But if your treating doctor or psychologist explains in writing why you are unable to perform the essential duties of your own occupation (or any occupation beyond the two-year mark), you should get disability benefits.

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If your insurer refuses to accept your doctor’s opinion and denies your claim, speak to a disability law firm like Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, which can advise you on the best way to force your insurer to pay.

READ MORE: Fighting a disability claim denial during COVID-19? Here’s how to choose the right lawyer

Understand how insurance companies make money and don’t walk away from your rights

Insurance companies make their profits by accepting premiums for the insurance policies they sell to you or your employer, and then by not paying for claims unless they absolutely have to.

Insurance policies, however, are legal contracts. As long as you are legitimately disabled from working due to a psychological or physical illness or injury, or a combination of both, then disability benefits should be paid.

Many insurance claim denials go unchallenged by individuals who are legally entitled to disability pay. This means that insurance companies continue to profit while disabled individuals face financial hardship.

 Get legal help if your disability claim is denied

At Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, our employment and disability lawyers have helped thousands of individuals recover compensation they were rightfully owed.

In the majority of cases, once a legal claim is started, most disability insurers will engage in settlement discussions. That means that if you are legitimately unable to work due to a coronavirus-related illness or injury, be it psychological or physical, or any other disability that prevents you from working, you should be paid short-term and/or long-term disability.

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Has your long-term disability claim been denied or cut off?

If you are denied for any reason, you should immediately contact the lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP for a free consultation on your legal rights. Do not walk away from money that is owed to you.

Contact the firm or call 1-855-821-5900 to secure assistance from a disability lawyer in Ontario or British Columbia. Get the advice you need — and the compensation you deserve — during this crisis.

Sivan Tumarkin is a disability lawyer and partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, one of Canada’s leading law firms specializing in disability claims and employment law.