COVID-19 and Filing for Long-Term Disability: Is it Possible?

There is a common misconception that contracting COVID-19 automatically results in eligibility for long-term disability benefits. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and only in specific circumstances relative to an individual’s limitations and restrictions would filing a claim be appropriate. Today, we will find out why that is and provide information to help you determine your eligibility for long-term disability benefits, otherwise known as LTD.

Elimination Period

The first factor to consider is the elimination period or the amount of time an employee must wait between the first day they are unable to work due to illness or injury and the first day they are eligible to receive LTD benefits. The elimination period varies depending on your LTD policy. During this period, the individual must continuously be unable to work because of their disability. The employee may be required to use all remaining sick days or apply for short term disability benefits during this period of time. Before applying, carefully examine the policy booklet provided by your employer. Ensure it’s the latest version, as updates to qualifying terms and conditions could either simplify or complicate matters further.

Definition of Disability 

The second factor to consider is the definition of disability as set out in your benefits policy. In order to be eligible for LTD benefits, the individual applying must meet the definition of disability as set out in the policy. These vary slightly depending on the insurance company. However, there are usually two key timeframes to bear in mind when considering your application. The first, which usually applies for the first 24 months after the end of the elimination period, is to prove that you cannot perform your own occupation because of the injury or illness. After 24 months, the employee must demonstrate that they cannot perform the duties of any occupation because of the injury or illness in question. 

Causes of Rejection for LTD Benefits

As covered in our May post on this particular subject, there are five common reasons why you may be denied LTD benefits: 

  1. Insufficient medical evidence to back your claim;
  2. You do not qualify as per your workplace’s current long-term disability policy;
  3. You are capable of securing employment in another occupation, whether in your field or otherwise;
  4. Your employer’s insurance policy excludes specific conditions, potentially preexisting in nature;
  5. A lack of “objective medical evidence” – a common hardship faced by those living with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia or mental health conditions.

In addition, late applicants who miss the deadline may be ineligible, which can result in a stressful and economically frustrating experience. Always ensure you apply before the posted deadline to avoid this needless complication. While there may be steps available to you to secure your benefits, they involve lengthy court proceedings that are best avoided.

Why Securing LTD Compensation for COVID-19 is Difficult

In consideration of these aforementioned LTD eligibility specifics, claiming LTD benefits as a result of COVID-19 would be difficult because you must be able to demonstrate that, after the elimination period and during the first two years, your ongoing symptoms of COVID-19 restrict and limit you from performing the duties of your occupation. A COVID-19 LTD claim would only be successful in instances where your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working in your own job. That said, if your LTD benefits have been denied, whether in relation to COVID-19 symptoms or another injury or illness, there are extra steps you can take in an attempt to pursue them further. We have covered them in detail here and would be happy to assist with any questions you may have. 

[Note: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, which cannot be given without consideration of your individual circumstances.]

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