What is the Definition of a Disability?
In 2017, the Government of Canada conducted the “Canadian Survey on Disability.” The results may surprise you.
Almost 20 percent of 3.7 million working age Canadians reported that they suffer from a disability. 4 out 10 of the adults reported having a severe disability, and those with a severe disability had lower rates of employment. In fact, a third of Canadians who reported having severe disabilities were not employed.
If you are suffering from a disability that prevents you from doing your job, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits. To determine whether you are eligible to receive disability benefits, you should familiarize yourself with your employer’s insurance policy. In order to receive disability benefits, your condition must meet the definition of a disability in the insurance policy.
To meet the definition of a disability, your condition must be a “total disability.” Simply put, the total disability test assesses whether your disability makes you unable to work. Disability case managers determine whether you meet this definition by asking whether your condition is “total” and a “disability.”
In this post, NOVA Injury Law breaks-down what each of these terms mean so that you better determine your eligibility for disability benefits.
What Does It Mean for a Condition to Be ‘Total’?
A disabling condition is “total” if it prevents you from completing the essential duties of your occupation. Jeff Mitchell, the principal lawyer and founder of NOVA Injury Law, writes in his book Winning Disability Insurance Benefits that the ‘total’ part of the disability test “assesses what the considerable and important tasks of the job are.” Click here to order this book for free.
You and your employer may disagree about what the essential duties of your occupation are. Given this, it could be helpful to make a list of the essential duties of your occupation, and add a short description of why these duties are critical to your occupation.
The “total” part of the disability test does not assess whether or not you are capable of doing tasks unrelated to your occupation. Your disability may still be total, even if you can still do some of the tasks that you do on a typical work day that are not central to your role.
Some insurance policies only consider the typical duties a person would do in your role, and not the actual duties you do for your specific employer. Read your insurance policy and note whether its definition of “total” is more general or specific.
What Does It Mean for a Condition to Be a “Disability”
A disability is an injury or illness that reduces your ability to perform tasks. Disabilities can arise in many different ways. For instance, a worker could have been in an accident such as a car crash or a slip and fall, contracted a virus or disease, or experienced a traumatic event.
After identifying what your disability is, the next step is to determine whether it is the reason that you are unable to perform the substantial tasks of your work. In other words, there needs to be a causal connection between the disability and your inability to perform the essential tasks of your occupation.
The reasons you identify should be reasonable and supported by your doctor and other health professionals. You should keep a record of when you met with your doctor or other health professionals to discuss or treat your disability, and the outcome of these meetings.
Determine the Standard That Will Be Applied When Assessing Your Claim
Whether your disability is a “total disability” can change depending on which test is used to assess your claim. If your claim is for long term disability benefits then either the Own Occupation or the Any Occupation test will apply.
If the Own Occupation test is being applied then the insurance company will only be assessing your ability to perform the essential duties of your occupation. If the Any Occupation test is being applied the insurance company will consider whether you are totally disabled from performing any occupations that you are reasonably suited for.
This may seem confusing at first. However, NOVA Injury Law has published posts that explain what these standards are and how they could impact your disability claim.
You can learn about Own Occupation here and Any Occupation here.
How Can NOVA Injury Help?
NOVA Injury Law has the tools and experience to help you make a strong disability claim. We can support you in making a claim that shows that your condition is a “total disability” and that you deserve disability benefits.
If you believe your disability benefits have been wrongly denied, you should contact NOVA Injury immediately. We have locations in Halifax, Bedford, and across the Maritime provinces, including Prince Edward Island.
We offer a FREE CASE REVIEW so that you can learn the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Our knowledgeable team can assist you in creating a strategy that you approve of and that aligns with your goals. With the help of NOVA Injury Law, you can feel confident that your interests are being represented, and focus more on your health and recovery.