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Can’t work? Why long-term disability may be better option than government assistance

You’ve just gone off of work due to an injury, impairment or illness. You have short-term and long-term disability (LTD) coverage through your insurance provider’s group benefits policy.

But you may have also heard about government assistance, such as EI sickness benefits, CPPD, ODSP, CRB and, when it was available during the COVID-19 pandemic, CERB.

I’ve had many people ask why they should bother trying to get LTD benefits from their insurance company when they could work with the government to get the financial assistance they need.

Here are five good reasons why choosing not to apply for LTD may be costly in the long run.

1. LTD benefits may pay more

This one is simple. In my experience as a disability lawyer, most government assistance programs do not pay as much as LTD policies pay if you are approved.

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2. You may be able to get some LTD and government assistance at the same time

In some cases, you can collect both LTD and government assistance, or a portion of both. This depends on the type of government assistance you’re receiving.

READ MORE: Most common mistakes people make when they are denied long-term disability

For example, if you’re approved for CPP disability benefits (CPPD), you are permitted to keep the entirety of those payments, and your LTD plan will provide further compensation as a top-up. The CPPD and LTD payments together will add up to the full amount you’re entitled to under your LTD policy.

In addition, if you have dependent children, and they are approved for CPPD children’s benefits, many LTD policies let you or your children keep those payments without any deduction or penalty.

If your LTD policy entitles you to $1,500 per month and you’re approved for CPPD and CPPD children’s benefits, you could receive:

  • $1,000 in CPPD per month;
  • $250 in CPPD children’s benefits per month, if you have one dependent child;
  • $500 in LTD benefits (which is your $1,500 entitlement minus the CPPD amount but not the CPPD children’s benefit amount)

The total is $1,750 per month, which is more than you would get with either benefit alone.

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In other cases, you cannot or should not collect both government assistance and LTD at the same time. If you do, you may have to pay some of it back to either the government or the insurance company.

READ MORE: The insurer cut off his benefits. Then his lawyer reviewed his medical assessment

3. Government assistance may require a difficult medical test

The test to qualify for each government assistance program is different. Some, such as CPPD, require you to pass a harder medical test than the average LTD policy does.

Other programs, such as the Ontario Disability Support Program, require you to be in financial need. LTD benefits, however, are available regardless of your financial situation.

4. Government assistance programs may be temporary

Many government programs will only provide assistance for a short period of time. This not only applies to CERB-type benefits (including the current CRB), but to other programs, such as EI sickness benefits, which only pay for a maximum of 15 weeks. Most LTD policies, on the other hand, pay to age 65.

READ MORE: Your long-term disability rights in the age of COVID

5. Waiting too long to apply for LTD could disqualify you

Every LTD policy has deadlines for applying for benefits or for challenging a claim denial. If you allow a deadline to pass without taking action, you could lose your ability to apply for benefits or appeal the denial.

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You may also lose your right to pursue a legal claim against your insurer for full compensation. In some cases, a disability lawyer, like one from my team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, can help save your claim even if the LTD policy’s deadline has passed. But in my experience, it’s better to meet the deadline.

READ MORE: 4 reasons why long-term disability claims are rejected


Has your long-term disability claim been denied or cut off? Do you have questions about your benefits or the government assistance programs available to you?

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

Michael Gerhard is a disability lawyer and senior associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, one of Canada’s leading law firms specializing in employment law and disability claims. The firm provides free advice through Canada’s only Disability Law Show on TV and radio.

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