Mental Illness and Applying for Long-Term Disability Benefits



Mental Illness and Applying for Long-Term Disability Benefits

If you are suffering from a serious mental illness, such as major depressive disorder (either single or recurrent), schizoaffective disorder (bipolar or depressive), schizophrenia, HIV, severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, severe anorexia or bulimia nervosa, or any other severe psychological or psychiatric disorder, you may be entitled to long disability benefits. If you have developed a mental illness while employed, you may have access to a group benefits policy that allows you to apply for short or term disability coverage, then following an elimination period, access to long term disability coverage.

Long-term disability coverage provides monthly income replacement for individuals who are unable to work due to a total disability. You may also have purchased a private long-term disability plan through your broker or through a broker employed by your professional association.

If you do not have group benefits or you did not purchase a private plan, then you will unfortunately have to turn to a government sponsored plan such as ODSP or CPP.  If you have any questions about mental illness and LTD, our Hamilton disability lawyers can help. We are experts in the field of disability litigation and we represent claimants throughout the entire Province.

How do I qualify for long-term disability if I suffer from a mental illness?

In order for your insurance company such as Manulife, Great West Life, Sunlife, RBC Disability, SSQ or any other insurance company to approve your long-term disability benefits, you must suffer a total disability that prevents you from carrying on your own occupation. Total Disability is a standard policy definition which means that your disability or mental illness prevents you from performing the substantial duties of your occupation and carrying out the major functions required of your job.

How long can I collect long term disability benefits for if I suffer from a mental illness?

Most policies, at the two-year mark, call for a change of definition. This means that after 24 months of disability payments have been made to you, your policy will switch to an “any occupation” definition of total disability.  Any occupation, according to most policies, means that your mental illness is preventing you from engaging in any occupation or performing any type of work for compensation

If you have suffered an onset of a psychiatric disorder which causes you symptoms such as paranoid delusions hallucinations, paranoid behavior, disorganized behavior, catatonic behavior etc. there is no doubt that you will qualify for disability benefits to the change of definition not probably for life. Other disorders, such as major depression, addiction or other mental illness will require that you provide ongoing medical documentation to your insurance company to prove your disability, along with any other requirements that the policy calls for.

How common is mental illness in Canada?

Mental illness is very common in Canada. The Canadian Mental Health Association has reported that by age 40, close to 50% of the Canadian population will have suffered some sort of mental illness in their lifetime.   Even more shocking is that almost half of people that suffer from a mental illness do report their suffering to their family doctor. Unfortunately, many people believe that they will be discriminated against in the workplace or suffer shame and embarrassment if they are labelled with a mental illness.

The problem with not seeking treatment for your mental illness then becomes proving that you are disabled. If you do not seek out proper medical care, your mental illness may not be properly diagnosed and/or treated effectively, which renders it difficult to prove to your insurance company that you are disabled.

For many people in rural Ontario communities, there is also an issue with the inability to find quality treatment. Many Ontarians are struggling with chronic mental health or psychiatric issues who are unable to find proper medical care, or in the alternative, they may encounter terrible and intolerable side effects associated with the anti-psychotic medications they take.  Unfortunately, most policies are clear that you must not only be under regular medical care, but you must also provide medical documentation regular routine basis which shows your insurance company that you still suffer a total disability, which is supported by your doctors.

Have you been denied or cut-off your monthly long term disability benefits?

Our Hamilton Disability Lawyers are able to assist long-term disability insurance claimants during all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits, from the denial to trial. If you have been denied long-term disability benefits, please call 905-333-8888, fill in a contact form or chat with our live operator to schedule an appointment by telephone or in person. Our consultations are free and without obligation.