If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer you will no doubt have many questions about your future. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is an extremely stressful time for women, marked by high anxiety, uncertainty and difficulty making decisions. The stress and fear have a very significant impact on psychological and mental health.
Navigating the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis is not for the faint of heart. Emotionally coping with breast cancer and adjusting to life after treatment may become and remain distressing, especially for women with poorer clinical outcomes.
Oftentimes, there could be financial devastation that accompanies a breast cancer diagnosis for women that are income earners and can no longer contribution to the shared family income or support themselves. For many, they turn to their long-term disability carriers for support – but unfortunately disability carriers often take the position that once a woman is in remission, they should return to work and not rely on their long-term disability benefits – which – premiums were paid for in exchange for protection in times of need.
If you have been denied long-term disability benefits and suffer from breast cancer you are not out of options. Contact our Hamilton long-term disability lawyers today at 905-333-8888 or fill in a private contact form to discuss your individual situation and we would be more than happy to assist in giving you the proper legal advice that you need.
Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in Canada, and is the second leading cause of death for women in the country. As one of the four most common types of cancer, it can also affect men. In 2017, approximately 1% of all detected breast cancers in Canada were found in men, and 60 men died from the disease. The Canadian Cancer Society reports that, in 2017, 14 Canadian women died from breast cancer every day. Breast cancer begins in the cells of the breast, where malignant tumors can form and destroy surrounding cell tissue. If it is not detected early enough, these tumors may spread, or metastasize, to other areas of the breast, and subsequently, the rest of the body.
All cancers are classified into “stages” based on the progression of the cancer, how large the tumor is, and the degree to which the cancer has affected the body. The stages go from Stage 1, in which the tumor can be safely removed and the cancer could be prevented from spreading, to Stage 4, when the cancer has spread and treatment options are minimal. Depending on which stage your breast cancer is, this could have an impact on the outcome of your long-term disability case. Generally, your case is stronger the higher the stage is and how severe your symptoms are. It is harder to prove a claim for Stage 1 breast cancer than it is to prove a claim for Stage 4. However, it is not impossible with professional legal assistance.
Breast cancer, and other forms of cancer, are considered a disability when it comes to filing for long-term disability benefits, and cancer is among the top reasons for long-term disability claims in Canada. Undergoing cancer treatment can take up significant time and energy, resulting in lost wages and missed work for the patient. There is also the possibility of the cancer returning and preventing additional future lost wages. However, many insurance companies have made unjust denials for these benefits, causing significant frustration for the claimant.
Breast cancer can surely be considered a total disability. Typically, long-term disability insurance policies categorize the definition of disability into two separate tests. The first is the” own occupation” test of total disability and the second is the “any occupation” test of total disability. What does this mean to you, if you are suffering from breast cancer?
It means that if you are unable to perform the substantial duties of your own job, no matter what you do for a living, you will be considered totally disabled from performing your own occupation as per the definition set out in your disability policy. The “own occupation” definition of disability typically persists for 24 months. It’s important to understand that a total disability within 24 months does not mean absolute physical inability to perform one’s own occupation, but rather from performing the substantial duties of your own occupation.
There is no doubt, and statistics show, that breast cancer is the second most frequent type of cancer in the world (second to lung cancer). While at one time, it carried a high mortality rate, the fact is that survival rates are increasing and mortality trends are decreasing. Nonetheless, while an increment in survival of women with breast cancer is on the rise, the functional, vocational and life conditions which are influenced by breast cancer symptoms often culminate into brutal functional physical deficit for survivors.
Often times, treatment and surgery, or a combination of both, can certainly impact and influence a breast cancer survivor to suffer physical, functional and emotional consequences that prevent her from performing the substantial duties of her own job.
Further, breast cancer studies have demonstrated the development of many secondary complications to treatment, such as the development of lymphedema and a reduction in the amplitude of movement of the shoulders and arms post-surgery, pain, sensitivity and an overall decrease in emotional well-being. All of this combined, often present a very high impact on the daily life of survivors, which results in severe decrease in overall functionality.
After 24 months, long-term disability policies go through what is called a “change of definition” wherein the claimant or insured person must satisfy that she is disabled from working and unable to perform the essential duties of “any occupation” for which she is suited by education training and experience.
While many survivors can return to work, often times, and for the reasons above, many women cannot. Many women, continue to participate in treatment for longer than 24 months. Many experience severe side effects of radiation and chemotherapy which cause brutal fatigue, brain fog, persistent pain, fatigue, memory loss, drowsiness decrease and physical stamina.
With breast cancer victims, the decision to return to work as a personal one. You must be ready. You must feel strong. Your work should also be accommodating your disability either by modified hours and lessening your duties to a reasonable standard which you can keep up with.
You are not out of options just because you have been denied or cut off from your long-term disability benefits – don’t give up. Our Hamilton disability lawyers represent breast cancer claimants all over Ontario. If you’ve been denied or cut off your long-term disability, call us at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form, and contact us confidentially and privately with any questions you may have. We represent breast cancer victims throughout the Golden horseshoe and the entire province of Ontario and we would be happy to discuss your case with you, at no cost, and confidentially.