A growing number of people who had COVID-19 continue to have symptoms weeks to months after they no longer test positive. Many of these “long-haulers” are unable to work and may remain so for the uncertain future, making it important to know about their rights when it comes to long-term disability benefits.
One thing remains clear: the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic was difficult on all of us. In different ways, we know the pandemic took a toll on the physical and mental health of Canadians. While the insurance companies are still navigating through the murky waters of COVID-19, this blog will highlight whether or not you may be entitled to file for Long-Term Disability (LTD) benefits.
Who Qualifies for LTD Benefits?
Most full-time employees have access to LTD benefits through their employer’s extended health coverage. If you are employed and have coverage for LTD benefits, you may be eligible to claim these benefits if an injury or illness prevents you from performing the duties of your job.
LTD policies have set criteria that each person must meet to qualify for the benefits. For the first 2 years, most policies require that the person be disabled from doing their regular job. Most LTD policies have a change of definition once you hit two years on disability: you must be unable to perform any occupation for which you are suited by reasons of training, education, and experience.
As well, the “Long” in Long-Term Disability refers to when you can apply. Most LTD policies only begin to pay benefits after 3-6 months of disability. Some companies have Short-Term Disability coverage to bridge this gap, and some employers will pay the first few months themselves. However, unfortunately many employees in Canada are simply not covered in the short term – meaning they may have no coverage aside from government programs in those first few months of disability.
Every claim is different, and every individual has their own story and experience to tell. Our job, as LTD lawyers, is to listen and help you get the justice you deserve. There are a variety of reasons individuals choose to submit a claim or come to us for help. If you are unsure whether you qualify and would like more advice, please book a free consultation.
COVID-19 Long Haulers
People with long COVID, or “long-haulers,” are COVID-19 survivors but they have persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, palpitations, and impairments in mental health and cognition.
It is currently believed that at least 10% of people experience long-term COVID-19 symptoms. People who were hospitalized due to the disease are more likely to experience long term symptoms. Some long term symptoms are shortness of breath, loss of smell and taste, fatigue that does not go away, mental or cognitive functions (such as brain fog) and a persistent cough for months on end.
Unlike injuries or other medical conditions, the causes of these symptoms are not easily identifiable. Ultimately, this puts long-haulers in a very difficult position when dealing with their insurance companies. In order to help you during this difficult time, we have provided some tips below in hopes of helping you identify and deal with COVID-19 and long term disability claims.
Mental Health As a Result of COVID-19
Due to the government lockdowns and restrictions over the past 2 years in Ontario, there has been an uptick in individuals experiencing symptoms such as stress, anxiety, loss, grief and many more. It is normal to feel increased levels of these symptoms as a result of years of gathering restrictions and the economic shutdown. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 911 or present yourself to the nearest emergency room.
Many essential workers, especially those in medical fields (i.e., Doctors, Nurses, and Emergency Medical Technicians) bore a tremendous psychological burden by trying to perform their regular duties in the face of increased risk and uncertainty. Learn more about the psychological impact of COVID-19 and other viral epidemics on frontline healthcare workers and ways to address it.
These essential workers have constantly put others’ needs in front of their own and as a result of taking on such a tremendous burden, we have noticed an upsurge of mental health issues, burnout, chronic stress, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD within the medical profession. Therefore, the number of short-term and long-term disability claims related to mental health has skyrocketed, as many cope with the aftermath of COVID-19.
If you are a frontline worker who can no longer perform your duties as a result of the mental strain suffered during the pandemic, you could be eligible for disability benefits. Contact us here to book a consultation today.
Here are 5 tips that can help you if you are a long hauler for COVID-19 or have suffered mental stress due to the pandemic as a frontline worker.
You may be wondering what you can do to ensure your LTD claim gets approved. We have put together a couple tips that can help the process.
- Seek medical advice right away
Make sure you are being treated for your COVID-19 symptoms. Make sure everything is documented. Hospital records, testing results, and office visit notes from your doctor(s) documenting your diagnosis and symptoms will go a long way to substantiate your claim. Make sure to continue seeking regular treatment, and make sure that you report all symptoms you are experiencing to your doctor(s) for record purposes.
- Make sure you have a supportive medical practitioner
If your doctor is supportive of your disability claim, we can advise you on how to ask your doctor for a medical letter explaining your diagnosis, treatment history, any symptoms (cognitive or physical) and how this hinders your ability to work or perform modified duties at work.
- Being assessed by a neurologist
Or by a neuro-psychological professional is a must if you are experiencing cognitive or neurological issues. A neuropsychological evaluation objectively measures your level of functioning in areas such as processing speed, attention and/or concentration, as well as your memory. The evaluation results can provide your insurer an in-depth assessment of your cognitive impairment and how those deficits impact your ability to meet work demands.
- Know the application process
Long-term disability applications usually require three forms: the employer statement, the employee statement and the attending physician’s statement. This is why hiring a legal professional to ensure everything is done properly can benefit you in getting the compensation you deserve.
- Hire an LTD lawyer
To help you file your long-term disability claim. Filing a claim can be a long and daunting process. Our goal is to get you the most compensation and we don’t get paid until you get paid. We work around the clock to ensure you get a solution you deserve.
If you want to learn more about long-term disability and COVID-19 Long Haulers, please contact us today and we can make sure you have all the tools you need to submit your application.
If your claim has been denied and you need help with an appeal, book a consultation today!