Post by: / March 26, 2021

COVID-19’s impact on mental health will lead to a flood of long-term disability claims

The alarming rise in mental health concerns due to the pandemic is a new reality. It is heartbreaking, but not surprising.

The impact on Canadians who have experienced being isolated from family, friends and their community is taking its toll. People have lost loved ones and were unable to grieve alongside the comfort of others. Important milestones have gone without proper recognition or celebration. The feeling of uncertainty over safety, employment, education and the economy is compounding and widespread even among those who previously had not worried about such issues.

Research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health shows anxiety patterns among Canadians mirrored the progression of the pandemic. At the time of the survey (November 27 and December 1, 2020), 19.4 per cent of participants reported seeking help for mental health concerns at least once during the past week. Twenty-four per cent of participants reported moderate to severe anxiety levels and 21.7 per cent reported feeling depressed. The mental health of women, parents and younger adults were particularly affected.

Long-term disability in Canada

For some, mental health problems impact their ability to work. A disability stemming from these issues have been recognized by our courts time and again. As a result of the pandemic, one can only assume these cases will continue to come forward.

Long-term disability benefits protect individuals from an inability to earn an income due to a long-term illness or disability. Though the income may not be as much as what the individual would receive while in the workforce, the benefit can go a long way to ease the suffering of people with sudden disabilities or chronic debilitating conditions.

Insurance companies will pay a benefit to an insured individual who meets the definition of total disability under the governing policy. The benefit is usually a monthly amount to offset the loss of income from being unable to work. Some policies will also provide some coverage for rehabilitation or retraining in order to return to the workforce. In other cases, there may be coverage for rehabilitation through the extended health portion of a benefits package.

The definition of total disability may differ from policy to policy. This language is important as it can impact the insured’s entitlement to a benefit. Whether an individual can work in their own occupation will most often be considered as the test for disability for the first two-year period. Thereafter, an individual will need to prove disability from any occupation based on education, training and experience.

If your insurance claim has been denied, we would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this matter with you and advocate on your behalf. Please, contact us for a free consultation.

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