Short term disability insurance pays you when you cannot work because of an injury or illness. Simply stated, you qualify for these benefits when a medical condition prevents you from doing your job. Your plan can probably cover the first months of absence due to sickness or injury. The length of the insurance varies from one policy to another.
If you are ill or injured and cannot work, your short term disability plan can pay a percentage of your usual income defined by the plan. Plans usually cover 60% to 85% of your income, however, certain plans will cover up to 100% of your income.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS IN APPLYING FOR SHORT TERM DISABILITY BENEFITS?
Often, as an injured or ill employee, you will first use any available sick days, which are governed by your employment contract with your employer or your collective agreement. Short term disability insurance is usually the next step after having used all remaining sick days, if available. Once exhausted, then employees are typically entitled to receive long term disability insurance. Many people receive their disability insurance coverage through a plan carried by their employer. It is a good idea to ask about coverage when starting a new job.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM DISABILITY INSURANCE?
Like short term disability benefits, long term disability insurance is an insurance that protects employees from loss of income if unable to work. However, certain plans require that the employee apply and get accepted onto short term disability, if they have that coverage, before receiving long term disability.
Quite often, the short term disability benefits will cover the “waiting period” or “elimination period”, which needs to expire before you can qualify for long term disability benefits. In contrast, long term disability typically expires when an employee reaches the age of 65 or retires.
The definition of disability may vary between short term and long term disability. Frequently, short term disability benefits are provided when an employee is unable to do his or her own occupation. Once the employee is approved for long term disability, and 24 months have expired, the definition of disability under the long term disability policy may change in that the employee is entitled to long term disability benefits if they are unable to work in any occupation.
Amount of income received under the policy is another difference between the two types of disability insurance. To determine your entitlement, refer to your benefits schedule in your policy or benefit booklet.
WHAT IS MY DISABILITY COVERAGE AS A CANADIAN PUBLIC SERVANT?
Government of Canada employees are covered by the Treasury Board of Canada’s Disability Insurance Plan. That plan does not include short-term disability coverage. You are expected to be covered by your accumulated sick leave until you meet the thirteen-week minimum waiting period to qualify for long-term disability benefits.
Specifically for those covered by the Treasury Board plan, you are covered for any disability that prevents you from working your regular job for the first 24 months of disability. Afterwards, you will continue to receive benefits if your disability prevents you from working a “commensurate occupation.”
WHAT IF I GET SICK AND I DO NOT HAVE COVERAGE?
If you do not have short term disability coverage through your employer or otherwise, you may still qualify for sickness benefits through Employment Insurance (EI). Through EI you may be eligible to receive 15 weeks of EI sickness benefits. There are certain requirements such as having accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the respective qualifying period.
If your application for short term disability benefits is denied, then you may want to speak an experienced disability benefits lawyer.
We are here to help navigate the short-term disability claim process. Consult one of our experienced Disability lawyers at Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne and Yazbeck LLP if you are considering making a claim for disability benefits or if your disability claim for benefits has been denied.
[This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, which cannot be given without consideration of your individual circumstances.]
By: Raphaëlle Laframboise-Carignan, Anna Lichty and Zachary Rodgers (articling student)