When seeking a disability claim, the issue may come up that you have some other conditions which have led to your inability to work. Courts will ultimately tackle the question of what the primary reason was for you needing to leave work.
In a case where disability may result from multiple causes, it is important to show that the onset you want to claim is shown as the “driving force” behind your needing to leave work. In one case, the court found that “to qualify for disability benefits, it must be shown that [disability] was solely due to sickness and that the disability caused a loss of income.”
What are Multiple Causes?
Multiple causes can include:
- Pre-existing conditions which might have led to an inability to work;
- Other conditions occurring after the onset of your disability;
- A condition that was already limiting your ability to work; or
- A “lifestyle choice” to not work.
How to Show that Other Conditions Were not the Cause of Disability
To show that a disability was the driving force of an inability to work, it is important to consider the impact that a disability has had and connect this impact to work duties. If possible, you may want to distinguish this from any pre-existing conditions you may have had.
For example, consider you are a courier with pre-existing carpal-tunnel syndrome affecting your ability to lift packages. You received accommodations at work in the form of a tool that makes lifting easier on your hands but takes a little longer. You get in an accident which severely injures your knee and limits your ability to bend your knee. You are no longer able to drive a car.
In this case you would address your pre-existing carpal-tunnel and that you received accommodations which ensured you were still able to do your job. It was ultimately the knee injury that has prevented you from working as due to your knee injury you can no longer properly hit the breaks in a vehicle.
The same can be done for conditions that happened after the onset of your disability. You should address how the onset of your disability limited your ability to work and show how your new condition was not the cause of this limitation.
What If I was Already Off Work or Doing Less Work?
If you were already off work before the onset of your disability, your claim may be rejected. An example of this is a case where a doctor had his license suspended and subsequently suffered from depression. The doctor claimed that his depression made him unable to work, but this was rejected by the court who found that the doctor’s inability to work was due to his suspension, not his illness. His claim was ultimately rejected on those grounds.
This case is ultimately an illustration that if you are already unable to work for some reason, it is likely that the courts will reject a claim for disability for something that has happened afterwards.
If you do find yourself in a similar situation, it is important to show how your claim is different. You can do this by arguing:
- I was off work before the accident, but I was set to return, and the onset of my disability prevented
- I was doing less work, but the onset of my disability has prevented me from doing even that; or
- I was working with accommodations before, and now I cannot even do that.
Remember, you want to show that the onset of your disability will prevent you from working your job or a similar job. Suppose you had limitations before the start of disability. In that case, it is essential to recognize this, but ultimately you must show how your ongoing inability to work is connected to the onset of your disability.
How to Show that Not Working is More than A “Lifestyle Choice”
In some cases, it may be argued that not working is more of a “lifestyle choice” than a true limitation caused by the onset of a disability.
An example of this is when an individual had suffered from several previous heart attacks and stopped working because they wanted to avoid another heart attack. Ultimately, the court decided that ceasing work was not something that was medically necessary for the individual as there was no evidence supporting the fact that not working would reduce their risk of another heart attack.
This is an illustration of the importance of having proper medical support for your claim. If you are trying to show that your inability to work is more than a “lifestyle choice,” the support of a medical practitioner can be crucial.
Other support you can use to show that this is more than a lifestyle choice includes:
- Support from your employer that you are unable to perform your work duties; or
- Failed attempts at returning to work.
How Can NOVA Injury Help?
At NOVA Injury Law we will act on your behalf to advocate for you in your disability claim.
The whole idea behind a disability claim is to ensure you are provided compensation for your disability – and this is a wide-ranging task with unique facts in each case.
To learn more about NOVA Injury Law’s approach to protecting disability claims, contact us now to book your free Case Review. During the free Case Review process, we will give you our honest opinion about your case, how much your disability claim might be worth, and what you should consider as your next steps.
If you need legal advice or representation for your disability claim in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or anywhere in Atlantic Canada, our personal injury lawyers are here to help. Contact us today and tell us more about your claim – we are here to help!