Is My Depression Considered a Disability?

Every year 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Depression and other mental health issues not only affect our personal lives, they affect our professional lives too. In fact, a recent study found that mental health problems and illnesses were a primary reason for missing work, with 78% of respondents reporting they missed work due to mental health concerns. Of those, 34% reported missing work for two or more months.

It’s perhaps not surprising, that mental health accounts for 70 percent of disability costs in the workplace, while one-third of short and long-term disability claims are related to mental health problems.

 

Stigma, fear remains strong

Despite the high rate of depression, there remains a stigma attached to the condition. People tend to avoid discussing their pain for fear of being seen as “weak” or of losing their jobs. That unfortunate reality prevents many from applying for benefits for depression and other mental health issues when their condition is very real indeed.

In fact, mental health issues can impact people as significantly as physical conditions, if not more so. That’s why the Ontario Human Rights Code protects people suffering in that way against discrimination and harassment under the grounds of “disability”.

 

But will I receive benefits?

When suffering from depression and/or anxiety, taking some time off work is often recommended and even necessary. In those situations, short-term or long-term disability benefits can play a vital role, just as they would if one were in a car accident and unable to work.

While many employees will be covered by the company policy in these circumstances, be sure to check the specific definition of disability in your work policy to confirm your eligibility, and whether you’d be covered for short-term or long-term disability benefits.

Assuming you’re covered, for an application to succeed, you have to demonstrate that your symptoms are serious enough to prevent you from performing at your job (or any job, depending on the policy).If your depression is accompanied by physical symptoms – e.g. digestive issues, fatigue – make sure to mention those, as they are easier to document and better understood by insurers.

 

Things to consider when making a claim

Even if depression is considered a disability under your policy, you may face additional challenges in getting a claim approved. That reality can be attributed to the subjective nature of mental illness and the fact that insurers are still learning about the condition. To be sure, we’re a few steps ahead than a decade ago in terms of our understanding of mental illness, but there’s still a long way to go.

In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to help bolster your claim.

  1. Make sure to see your doctor regularly and don’t miss any appointments.
  2. Take your prescription medications and ensure they are monitored.
  3. Get a referral to a psychiatrist for a consultation. Try to get that appointment as soon as possible.
  4. If you feel you’re not getting the care you deserve, get a second, or a third opinion. Make sure you have the standard of care that insurers will regard as optimum for you and your condition, and that you’ve received the necessary treatments.
  5. Make sure all your medical appointments and treatments are well-documented.

 

Speak to a lawyer

A lawyer can help determine your eligibility for benefits, explain your options and compile the evidence you need to make a successful claim.

The disability lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth have helped many clients attain long-term disability benefits after they’ve been denied or terminated. If you want to us to help demystify other complexities of the LTD world, or to discuss your long-term disability benefits and how we can help you secure the compensation you deserve, call us at (613) 233 -4529 or email us at [email protected]

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