Halifax Long Term Disability Lawyers Fighting for the Rights of Disabled Workers Across Nova Scotia
Insurance exists as a safety net for the worst-case scenario. It is meant to provide you with financial security in the short term while you recover and for the long term if you remain disabled. If all people with a valid claim were paid benefits owed to them, there would be no need for plaintiff disability lawyers. As you may suspect, we assist disability clients on a consistent basis because this scenario represents the grim nature of reality for so many injury victims. When your claim is denied or fought so aggressively, it can be easy to feel like the best course of action is giving up. We fight insurance companies so that injured persons get the benefits and compensation they are entitled to.
Disability policies take many shapes and sizes, but the core feature of most policies considers the extent of your disability. Short-Term Disability benefits may exist through a group plan through your work or via a private plan. Short-term policies are meant to provide a bridge to your recovery. Long-Term Disability insurance generally activates after the expiry of the short-term disability period.
When Might I Need a Disability Lawyer?
All types of injury law can seem overly complex and difficult to navigate, especially all alone. The vast majority of our work starts because of two events that occur all too often:
- The injured person’s application for benefits is rejected by the insurance company
- The injured person’s benefits are cut-off after being approved previously
Disability claims are complex. Policy wording is purposefully complicated to make it inaccessible to people without a background in disability law, and the requirements for accessing the benefits are often lengthy and difficult to achieve accurately. Sometimes, an application is rejected simply because an insufficient amount of medical information was provided during filing. In other cases, the application form was simply incomplete or completed incorrectly.
The second event often occurs at the so-called ‘change of definition’ date. Many policies have a definition change clause within the terms of the policy, allowing the insurer to end monthly benefit payments to an injured person if they are found not to have a disability severe enough for benefits. Commonly, the definition of benefits changes from an ‘own-occupation’ standard to an ‘any-occupation’ standard. In short, where an insurance company would usually state that you are incapable of completing your specific job, they will switch the requirement over to any job. That means if you can do some job that you would be reasonably able and qualified to do, whether it is available and tolerable to you or not, the insurance company will terminate benefits.
Benefit cut-offs are often unfair. Decisions are generally made by medical consultants working for the insurance company, and they’re usually made with the bottom line in mind, not the patient. Appeals are possible, but the review will be done by the insurance company, which will fight for as long as it can to avoid a payout.
Our work begins with an assessment of your medical files. Following a detailed review of your health and the insurance policy, we develop a strategy to demonstrate your level of disability to the insurer. A properly developed claim will result in one of three main possibilities:
- Your health has improved such that you are able to work.
- Your benefits are reactivated – you return to being “on claim.”
- You receive a lump-sum settlement payment in exchange for giving up your policy.
Enforcing your contractual benefits is often challenging, time-consuming, and discouraging. We help take this burden from our clients through our management of your claim. We are committed to fighting for your health and recovery so that you may focus on what matters most.
We encourage you to speak to us about your disability benefits claim if you have been denied benefits or if you have had your benefits suspended. We will review the policy with you and provide our opinion on your likelihood of success. The free consultation we offer is obligation free. We look forward to your call.
What is Long Term Disability?
Long-term disability insurance benefits generally begin when the following benefits meant to help workers with a short-term problem end:
- short-term disability insurance
- sick leave benefits from your employer
- Employment insurance (EI) benefits
When an injury or condition goes from being a short-term experience to a chronic or life-long issue, long-term disability benefits are meant to stand in, so that the victim can still support themselves while they are injured. Most injuries sustained while performing your job, especially if performed correctly, generally qualify for workman’s compensation or disability coverage. If you have been injured at work leading to a chronic condition that makes it difficult to perform your job duties, it is important to seek medical care and document it well. Medical documentation goes a long way in building a solid personal injury case.
Most long-term disability plans will replace 60% to 70% of your normal income. Each disability plan is different. Some may provide disability benefits for up to two years if you’re unable to return to the job you had before becoming disabled. After two years, you may continue to receive benefits only if you’re unable to work at any job. If you’re facing pushback from an insurance company regarding your condition or long-term disability coverage, it is recommended that you speak with a disability lawyer regarding your claim.
Am I Still Employed if I’m Collecting Disability Benefits?
You are employed as long as your employer does not formally terminate your employment. It is important to remember that, aside from some exceptions, employers can terminate an employee whenever they want, as long as the termination is not for a discriminatory purpose. Any time your employment is unfairly terminated due to special protected status or disability, you should speak with a knowledgeable long-term disability lawyer to help you fight for fair compensation.
Usually, employers will not immediately terminate an employee who is on long-term disability. While they have the right to do so, it can be difficult for them to prove that the termination is not related to discrimination based on disability. Most employers will therefore allow the claimant to remain employed on approved sick leave for up to two years.
After two years, if the employee is permanently incapable of returning to work in any capacity, many employers will move to terminate. It is important to thoroughly document your case and your medical condition as you work through this process so that you will have ample physical evidence available to you and your legal team if you ever need to hire one to protect your claim.
When faced with a termination of employment due to an injury or disability claim, always get legal advice from a disability lawyer.
How Much Does a Disability Lawyer Cost?
This is a common question that weighs heavily in the minds of victims whenever legal services become involved. A good lawyer will be upfront and honest with you regarding costs and will let you know if they do not believe their involvement will add adequate value to your case.
Depending on what you need to be done, hiring a disability lawyer can cost as little as $50 or as much as $100,000 in extreme situations. You can hire disability lawyers under different fee arrangements, such as hourly rates, fixed fees, or contingency plans – if we don’t win it, you don’t pay. Generally speaking, the amount you will pay will depend on two factors: 1) The amount of financial risk that the lawyer has to take on and 2) the scope of the work you need to be done in order to be successful.
How Long Does Long-Term Disability Take to Start?
Long-term disability benefits start after you have been continuously disabled for the required waiting period. Depending on your policy, this waiting period is usually three to six months. It is common for people to receive short-term disability benefits or EI sickness benefits during the waiting period. The exact amount of time can be affected by your unique circumstances, the company you work for, and the policies they have.
Sometimes, during this process, you may be approached with an option to accept a guaranteed settlement amount instead of continuing your case to fight for future benefits; a settlement often takes the form of a large lump sum payment. It is recommended that you always speak with an experienced long-term disability lawyer before accepting any settlement amount. Contact a long-term disability claim lawyer for more information or to set up a risk-free case review.
Are Long-Term Disability Benefits Taxable?
Generally, if you pay the entire amount of the disability premium yourself, your disability benefits will be tax-free. This may bring your income while on disability closer to your current take-home pay.
If your employer pays all or part of the disability premium, your disability benefits will be subject to income taxes.
What Do I Do if My Long Term Disability Benefits are Denied or Cut Off?
It is a bad day for any disabled worker when they receive a denial letter or termination letter, but there is still hope. The first thing you should do when receiving one of these letters is to photocopy it and store it in a safe place, as it will be a valuable asset in any appeal.
A denial letter indicates that your LTD claim was unsuccessful. The denial will typically mention that you may suffer some restrictions but that your disability does not rise to the level of a “total disability” as defined by the insurance company.
These letters are a threat to your LTD benefits and must be taken seriously. Once you have sorted out why you were denied, you can then determine what you can do to attempt to overturn the unfavourable decision. There are ways to appeal both a denial and a termination letter. Although this can be a complex matter, and it is recommended that you seek out a disability lawyer, “The Must-Read Guide to Winning Disability Insurance Benefits” available through our resources page lays out a step-by-step guide (along with tips) to successfully appeal a denial or termination and get your LTD benefits back.
Can the Personal Injury Lawyers of NOVA Injury Law Help Me With My Long-Term Disability Case?
While many law firms work on a broad variety of cases, NOVA Injury Law is an ideal ally for a disability benefits case because we focus all of our resources and efforts on supporting injury victims. Aside from the free case review, the no-obligation consultation, and contingency fee agreement available for many types of claims, NOVA Injury Law is a proudly Nova Scotian law firm that offers something that other Atlantic Canadian firms do not – we are the only personal injury lawyers in Atlantic Canada with a doctor on the team.
Dr. Laura Mitchell is a practicing emergency room physician with special training in occupational medicine: this means that she has specialty expertise in workplace-related injuries and illnesses. Working directly with a knowledgeable medical professional allows the brain injury lawyers at NOVA Injury Law to properly support personal injury claims with the most complete, accurate, and convincing medical evidence that is gathered by a reputable consulting expert. Our extensive network of professional medical consultants will not only work on your behalf but provide you with rehabilitation and evaluative resources to best support your case and your recovery.
No one should have to worry that the disability coverage they’ve worked and applied for might suddenly disappear from under them. If you or one of your loved ones is struggling to get or keep your long-term disability benefits, contact the veteran personal injury lawyers of NOVA Injury Law today. For more information or to set up an initial consultation, you can reach us by calling 1-800-262-8104. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to support you and your loved ones via email, text, Facebook messenger, and more.