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How Long Can You Be on Long-Term Disability?

If you’ve been diagnosed with a significant medical condition or suffered a traumatic injury, you are undoubtedly worried about making ends meet and what will come next. Long-term disability (LTD) benefits may be the lifeline you need to remain financially stable as you work on your recovery.

Most people have many questions surrounding long-term disability benefits, whether they qualify, and how long these benefits last. At Yegendorf Rashid, we will answer your questions and help you pursue the benefits you are entitled to.

What Is Long-Term Disability Insurance?

An insurance company that provides long-term disability (LTD) benefits makes financial payments to individuals who have a qualifying medical condition or injury that prevents them from working. Many Canadian employers offer long-term disability insurance to employees as part of their total benefits package. However, individuals can also purchase LTD insurance separately and pay the premiums themselves.

Although long-term disability benefits coverage varies between providers, most plans provide payments for a certain percentage of a person’s pre-disability income. The payments are a way to help injured or sick workers replace a portion of their lost wages and maintain a reasonable standard of living during their recovery.

Individuals who pay the entirety of their LTD insurance premiums themselves do not typically have to pay income tax on their benefits. However, the government taxes LTD benefits paid to those whose employers cover all or part of their premiums.

The Difference Between Long-Term Disability (LTD) Benefits and Short-Term Disability (STD) Benefits

It is essential to understand the difference between short-term and long-term disability benefits, as you may qualify for both. Long-term disability and short-term disability are two types of insurance policies that provide income replacement if an individual cannot work due to an injury or illness. However, there are some key differences between the two policies.

Short-term disability insurance provides income replacement for a temporary period, usually up to six months after an individual becomes disabled due to a qualifying medical condition or injury. Again, this insurance coverage may be offered as an employer-sponsored benefit. Most policies cover a percentage of an employee’s salary. Short-term disability insurance may cover medical bills, rehabilitation, and other related expenses.

However, long-term disability insurance can provide income replacement for a more extended period, typically after the short-term disability coverage has expired and an individual cannot work. The length of coverage can vary based on your policy, but it can last for several years or until the individual reaches retirement age.

To be eligible for either STD or LTD benefits, an individual must meet the definition of disability as outlined in their policy. The definition varies from policy to policy, but it usually requires that the individual cannot perform the essential duties of their occupation or any other occupation for which they are reasonably suited.

How Do You Know If You Are Eligible for Long-Term Disability Benefits?

It can be challenging to establish that you qualify for long-term disability benefits. First, you should always review your long-term disability benefits insurance policy. This document outlines the eligibility requirements for long-term disability benefits. If your long-term disability policy is employer-purchased, you may need to meet specific criteria established by your employer before being eligible for long-term disability benefits. These criteria may include the following:

  • Working for a specified length of time with the employer
  • Being categorized as a full-time worker
  • Financially contributing to the cost of the plan when applicable

Additionally, you may have to exhaust other benefit options before applying for long-term disability benefits. Depending on your employer and the specifics of your LTD plan, you may be able to apply for long-term disability benefits after you’ve exhausted your short-term disability benefits, EI benefits, or sick leave benefits.

To receive the LTD benefits to which you’re entitled, you may need to take the following steps:

  • Gather medical documentation
  • File a long-term disability claim with your insurance provider
  • Wait for the elimination period to end

The elimination period is the length of time before they can apply for LTD. Some companies require a 30-day elimination period, starting the day you are injured or become ill. Others require an elimination period of six months or longer. Your policy should include relevant information about your elimination period.

How does long-term disability insurance work? If your claim is approved, typically, you can expect to receive a percentage of your wages monthly. Again, the amount you can receive depends on your coverage. Most long-term disability policies pay 60% to 70% of your gross earnings, but the percentage varies from policy to policy. Your policy will also spell out how long your long-term disability benefits will continue to be paid.

Medical Conditions that May Qualify You for Long-Term Disability Benefits

Does a medical condition, illness, or injury prevent you from returning to work and earning an income? You may be eligible to apply for long-term disability benefits. Common conditions that may qualify you for LTD benefits include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer
  • Significant psychological illnesses like PTSD, depression, and anxiety
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Your long-term disability policy might contain limitations, meaning you need to carefully review its terms to determine if your condition qualifies you to apply for benefits.

How Long Can You Be on Long-Term Disability?

One of the most common questions surrounding long-term disability insurance is how long benefits continue to be paid. The answer to that question may depend on the limitations of your specific policy. And while the length of time an individual can receive long-term disability varies, benefits end once they recover and can return to work.

Many LTD policies provide two years of benefits to individuals unable to work at their usual job but will only continue to pay benefits after those two years elapse if the individual cannot work any job. Check your policy to determine if it contains language to that effect.

How long can you stay on disability? Long-term disability benefits typically last until the individual recovers and can return to work or reaches the maximum benefit period specified in their policy or plan. Some plans pay long-term disability benefits for five to ten years if an individual cannot return to work. For some plans, the maximum benefit period lasts until the individual reaches age 65.

How Can an Ottawa Lawyer Help You?

Unfortunately, for many injured or ill individuals, seeking long-term disability benefits can be challenging. The process is sometimes complicated, and the road ahead can be bumpy. An experienced Ottawa long-term disability lawyer can be the advocate you need to obtain the benefits you deserve.

An important dynamic to remember is that the insurance companies that issue long-term disability policies are for-profit businesses, and paying out long-term disability benefits cuts into their bottom line. In some cases, people who have paid their premiums for years or have been assured that LTD insurance is included in their employment benefits find themselves contending with stalled or outright denied claims.

You shouldn’t have to cope with the stress of managing a significant medical condition while worrying about how you’ll survive financially. At Yegendorf Rashid, we seek to level the playing field by holding the insurance company accountable and helping you recover the long-term disability benefits you deserve. We will thoroughly review your situation to find the best path forward.

Contact an Ottawa Long-Term Disability Lawyer Today

If you need help navigating the long-term disability process or have questions about how long you can receive benefits in Ottawa, contact the legal team at Yegendorf Rashid. We want to help you recover the full benefits you are entitled to under your long-term disability plan.

Arrange a confidential consultation with one of our skilled Ottawa long-term disability lawyers today. We’re here to help.