If you are suffering from a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working, you may need to apply for what’s known as “short term disability”. Unfortunately, many Canadians can feel intimidated by the process of applying for these benefits, even though getting the short term disability experience started correctly can be a key step on the road to recovery.
Fortunately, working with employers and employees to get the short term disability experience right is one of the reasons that GroupHEALTH’s partners with the Disability Management Institute (DMI; www.disabilityinstitute.com). We have resources available to you to help you through the application process, and we specialize in making this experience transparent and efficient.
1. Understand your Short Term Disability Coverage
Before you apply for Short Term Disability, it’s important that you understand your insurance coverage. If you are offered group disability coverage through your employer, contact your Plan The administrator or Human Resource staff to help understand the extent of the coverage, or consult your benefits booklet. In case your employer does provide this coverage, you will be required to make your claim through the group plan.
Although your employer does not offer short term disability coverage as part of their group plan, you may be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. For more information on whether you qualify for EI, check out the government of Canada’s website here.
Other elements of your coverage that are important to understanding are your coverage amounts, which relate to how much benefit you will receive and how often. You will also want to know when you will start receiving the benefit if the benefit is taxable, and if your plan covers the third party claims management service like the Disability Management Institute (DMI) – as do most plans at GroupHEALTH.
2. Understand your Recovery and Treatment Timelines
Work with your doctor to understand how much time you will be unable to work. Short term disability benefit terms depend on your insurance coverage, but commonly can provide you with income assistance for up to 6 months. If your doctor recommends that you remain off work for longer than 6 months, you may be required to apply for Long Term Disability benefits, if you have this coverage.
Understanding your timeline can also involve making a transition plan for returning to work. You should consult with your doctor or treatment team and your employer to ensure that you have a safe and viable return-to-work plan. This can include returning to light duties or starting back to work on a part-time basis.
3. Streamline your Application Process
The application process will depend on what kind of Short Term Disability coverage you have and your insurer’s requirements. If your benefits plan includes services from a third-party disability management service like DMI, ensure you are utilizing their expertise to help you along the way.
If you are applying for short term disability coverage, you want to focus on your treatment and recovery. To get your claims experience started right, our partners at DMI offer their advice to get things going in the right direction:
- Fill out application forms in their entirety. Your application for benefits will be based primarily on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the information that you provide, so double checking or having a close friend or family member look over your application form for any missing information can save you valuable time and energy.
- Ensure your doctor, treatment team or specialist fills out the appropriate paperwork and provides the clinical records relating to your claims. This is the information your insurer will use to adjudicate your claim for benefits.
- You will need to provide a clear and legible copy of one of the following documents: birth certificate, driver’s license, or a government-issued passport.
- Other information you may need to include is your SIN number, banking information for direct deposit, an up-to-date mailing address, as well as your employers’ address.
4. Know your Critical Dates
Some of your application paperwork must be submitted within a certain amount of time from the start of your leave from work – often within the first 30 days. Late submissions may impact your eligibility for benefits. It may take time for your insurer to review, adjudicate and process your claim: it is common for the adjudication process to take at least 10 business days.
Get Started Right
Being unable to work due to a disability can be a stressful time and the application process to receive Short Term Disability Benefits can add to the stress. Understanding your options, timeline and requirements can help ease your mind and point you in the right direction to get assistance.
Read more about GroupHEALTH’s Disability Coverage options here.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to describe actual coverage terms and conditions. Always consult your benefits booklet for information about your coverage.