John has been a courier for 16 years. He suffers from debilitating anxiety and depression, including a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, John’s anxiety became more severe. His delivery company had more than one outbreak that infected co-workers with the virus. A fellow employee had died. The mental anguish was too much to take.
After watching friends become sick, he was traumatized by the thought of getting close to people. Scared that each day he would have to drag himself through his route and become infected with the virus, John was forced to stop working.
Initially, John would receive short term disability benefits in Ontario. But his long term disability insurance claim was denied by the insurance company. Because he hadn’t been infected with COVID-19, they felt he was fine.
As far as the insurance company was concerned, he could still make deliveries.
Denied disability claims and invisible illness
John’s mental health problems were documented by a physician; however, the insurance company wanted an assessment from a psychiatrist. The problem was, getting an appointment with a specialist could take more than 18 months. John couldn’t wait that long. He hadn’t been able to work for a year and his short term disability benefits ran out. What was he going to do?
One in three workplace disability claims in Canada is related to a mental illness
This courier isn’t alone.
Mental health disabilities are more common than most people realize. One in three workplace disability claims in Canada is related to a mental illness. Studies show that in any given week, at least half a million employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental illness problems.
In this case, John was fortunate that he had short term disability benefits. However, most short term disability insurance policies offer benefits for three to six months. E.I. Disability offers a maximum of 15 weeks.
Successful disability claims for mental health problems will remain a struggle
There is no question that COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on the mental health of Canadians. It’s not uncommon to know people who are increasingly anxious, worried, sleep-deprived, and depressed. Even before the pandemic, mental illness was the leading cause of disability in Canada.
But where does that leave people like John who are suffering from mental health problems, are unable to work and have been denied long term disability benefits?
“Successful disability claims for mental health problems will remain a struggle,” says Samantha Share, a lawyer specializing in disability insurance litigation with Share Lawyers. “Insurance companies want to see medical evidence. They want something you can see on an MRI or blood test. They’re more likely to accept a medical assessment of broken bones than they are a broken spirit.”
“If you suffer from debilitating anxiety, stress and depression, you’re entitled to the same rights and protections as individuals with visible impairments.”
Samantha says individuals with denied long-term disability claims can try appealing on their own, but that can be a daunting experience. The same person who rejected their initial disability claim is often the same person who makes a decision on the appeal. It can appear to be hopeless.
What can you do if you have a denied disability claim in Barrie?
If your life has been disrupted by an unexpected illness, creating an emotional, physical and financial burden, the first step you should take is to consult a disability lawyer. Share Lawyers offers free online consultations for long-term disability insurance claims.
There are also simple, free online tools to assess whether or not you have a disability case and if an experienced lawyer can assist you with your insurance claim.
And if you’re among those reluctant to contact a lawyer about your long term disability claim out of fear of being charged more than you can afford, Share Lawyers work on a No Fees Unless You Win Your Case basis.
Why wait to see if you have a valid long-term disability case or accept that your insurance claim has been denied? Book your free consultation today.