Long Term Disability Benefits Lawyer

When selecting a Long Term Disability Benefits Lawyer, or Long Term Disability Law Firm, it is important that they have the knowledge and experience in areas that will have a direct impact on your Long Term Disability claim and/or severance package. These areas of expertise include employment law, pension law, and human rights law.

Why Hire an Employment Lawyer?

Battling with an insurance company can be stressful and the interaction with employment law can be complex. A lawyer skilled in the intricacies of Long Term Disability Benefits law can ease the pressure, especially for someone interacting with an insurance company while simultaneously battling with physical or emotional ill-health. Getting caught between an insurance company pushing you to return to work and an employer who doesn’t think you’re ready to return to work can be stressful. Having a lawyer to strategically navigate you through that insurance company-employer stand-off to get your rightful Long Term Disability rights or severance package, is a heavyweight off the shoulders. In Long Term Disability cases you often do not have to pay legal fees upfront. Under a contingency arrangement, a client only pays when he or she gets money from the insurance company. This arrangement gives clients much needed legal expertise and significantly more power when taking on the financial might of an insurance company. 

Getting the Right LTD Answers

Employment law can impact your Long Term Disability claim against an insurance company. What happens if I lose my job while on Long Term Disability benefits? What happens if I receive a severance package while receiving Long Term Disability payments? Does my pension continue to accrue? What do I do if my insurance company asks me to apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits (CPPD benefits)? What happens if you get fired while you are claiming Long Term Disability benefits? These are all questions a skilled employment lawyer can answer.

Frustration of Contract

Frustration of contract is a legal term. When an employee is unable to return to work, employers will raise the concept of frustration of contract or will claim that the employment contract is frustrated. A frustrated contract effectively terminates the employee and employer relationship.  This is a common occurrence when clients are off work and receiving disability payments. Usually, an employer will claim frustration of the contract after an employee has been off work on disability for approximately two years. If an employee can show medical evidence that there is a reasonable prospect of returning to work, an employer may not be able to claim frustration of contract. If an employer is successful, it would result in termination of employment without the non-statutory elements of a severance package.

Severance Package and Long Term Disability

It is possible that an employer offers a severance package to an employee who is on Long Term Disability leave. However, it is important to consult a disability lawyer before agreeing to such a severance package. Most Long Term Disability contracts state that any income received will be used to offset your Long Term Disability payments. In other words, the severance package amount you receive could go directly into the pockets of your insurance company. Your lawyer may be able to restructure a settlement with the employer to avoid offsetting an LTD payment. 

Is Long Term Disability Insurance Mandatory?

No, it is not a legal requirement but you would be unwise not to have it. In the event that you are unable to work, long term disability coverage will provide income replacement of approximately 50 to 70% of your pre disability salary. Without LTD, you may qualify for Ontario Disability Support Program at around $10,000-$12,000 a year and Canada Pension Plan Disability at about $14,000 a year until age 65. 

Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits

Many insurance contracts require eligible employees to apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits. A lawyer with Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits expertise will be able to assist you through this process.

Please see our article “Applying for a Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit.” If you’re cut off LTD benefits, it is often a good strategic move to apply for CPP disability benefits. To qualify for those benefits you must demonstrate that your injury or illness is severe and will be prolonged. These benefits can also be paid up to 12 months retroactively but if you’re already getting LTD benefits any retroactive benefit may be clawed back by the insurance company. Please see our article on LTD Benefit Offsets

Further details can also be found here on the official Government of Canada website.

Pensions and Long-Term Disability

If you are contributing to a pension plan where your pensionable time accrues while you are receiving Long Term Disability benefits and short term disability benefits you will want a lawyer knowledgeable in pension law to represent you. Federal public servants who have been off work for a period of 18 to 24 months will typically receive an options letter requiring them to resign, medically retire or return to work with approval from Health Canada. Negotiating a settlement for LTD benefits with the insurance company can be a complex process because the insurance company will want to claw back medical retirement benefits that the employee would be entitled to if they medically retire before age 65. 

Do I Need a Human Rights Lawyer?

LTD is not a human right but it is a sensible, if not vital, self-protection for all working people. When people return to work on a gradual or employer-accommodated basis, an employee can feel pressured by the insurance company and an employer. For example,  the employer can fail to provide appropriate accommodations for the employee and pressure the employee to stay on LTD until he or she is fully fit to return to work. In contrast, the insurer will usually insist that the employee do the exact opposite by pushing the employee to attempt a return to work. When an insurance company is pushing an employee to return to work too soon or if the employer is failing in its duty to accommodate, consider consulting a Long Term Disability Lawyer with experience in human rights law.

Can an employer refuse a return to work while on Long Term Disability? An employer has the duty to accommodate an employee who wishes to attempt a return to work. However, this duty is not limitless, an employer has the obligation to accommodate an employee’s return to work up to the point of undue hardship. Please see our article “The Duty to Accommodate”. Insurance companies will sometimes argue that it is reasonable for the employer to accommodate the employee’s limitations and cease to pay Long Term Disability benefits. This is not necessarily a valid reason to terminate Long Term Disability benefits and the employee may wish to appeal the insurer’s decision. 

Return to Work

As mentioned above, an employer has the duty to accommodate a return to work, and a partial return to work can prevent an employer from being able to claim that an employment contract is frustrated. Some insurance contracts will allow the insured person to receive income from their employer – in addition to Long Term Disability payments – without being subject to an offset. The insurance policy typically has provisions pertaining to a rehabilitation program allowing the employee to claim employment income while in receipt of LTD benefits for a certain period of time. 

Choosing a Long Term Disability Benefits Lawyer: Other Considerations

When applying for Long Term Disability Benefits or when your Long Term Disability Benefits are denied, choose a lawyer who has contacts with medical experts that will assist in providing evidence to support your claim.

  • Check Google reviews for the firm or the lawyer; and
  • Meet with multiple lawyers and law firms to determine the best fit for you.

Please see the following articles concerning what to expect should your Long Term Disability be denied:

    1. WHAT TO DO IF (AND WHEN) YOUR CLAIM FOR LONG TERM DISABILITY (“LTD”) INSURANCE IS DENIED
    2. NAVIGATING YOUR CLAIM FOR LONG-TERM DISABILITY (“LTD”) INSURANCE