An optimistic approach to life is important, but have you planned for the possibility of tackling a chronic illness. Many of us are dealing with these realities now for the first time.
If you have to confront a critical illness, or long-term disability (LTD), that prevents you from working, it is important to understand your options in terms of replacing your income beyond basic government benefits such as employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) benefits.
Many people have access to benefits through their work/employment. Some also have private policies that cover things such as long-term disability and critical illness.
The following are some of the chronic health conditions that can result in long term disabilities:
- Somatic Symptom Disorder
- Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
- Blood clots
- Respiratory Disorders
- Neurological Disorders (Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease)
- Soft-tissue Injuries
- Orthopedic Injuries
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Chronic Fatigue
If you suffer any of the critical illnesses/diseases mentioned above, it is important to know and understand your rights to long-term disability benefits. This includes:
- A regular check-up with your Physician. You should be in constant contact with your primary health care providers, and you should follow their advice. There may be times where you wish to seek a second opinion. This is common and normal.
- Follow-up appointments are critical. It will be very difficult to obtain any type of LTD benefits if you do not have regular contact with your treatment providers. If you are unable to attend appointments due to illness, it is very important to give as much advance notice as possible, along with the reasons why.
- Get a copy of your insurance policy. Employers must provide a copy of your group policy to employees. Often, the booklet which provides the overview of benefits is not sufficient. If your employer has a benefits coordinator at your place of employment, speak to her/him. Seek legal advice if you do understand your benefits. If you are unionized, reach out to your Union representative.
- Keep medical records. You should keep all the records that you have concerning your health condition. Maintain a journal to record all the treatments you have gone through and any impacts you suffer at work or home as a result of your condition. Such documents or records are likely needed to prove your entitlement to benefits.
- Seek Legal Advice. If you feel like you have an entitlement to benefits and have been denied, almost every Plaintiff-side law firm will provide you with free advice on whether you have a claim.
- Be Proactive. Do not wait until you need access to benefits, to understand what benefits you have access to. Waiting until you need the benefits may end up causing you challenges in accessing benefits. Many people wait until they have been fired or laid off to examine what benefits they had. The unfortunate reality is that you lose many of these benefits the moment you have been terminated unless the process to apply is already underway.
By knowing your rights, you can reduce stress and risk. Insurance policies are there to benefit you and your family, but you give yourself an upper hand if you invest time in understanding what benefits you have. This exercise also allows you to assess where there may be gaps, and to purchase additional insurance.