COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the Ontario workforce. While many employees contracted COVID-19 and recovered within a few weeks, some individuals still suffer from symptoms months later. According to the federal government, individuals who are still experiencing physical or psychological symptoms more than twelve weeks after initially contracting the virus are suffering from ‘long COVID’. Symptoms of long COVID in adults include fatigue, memory problems, shortness of breath, general pain and discomfort, and difficulty thinking or concentrating. These long-term physical symptoms can also lead to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in severe cases.
Disability Claims for Long COVID Employees suffering from long COVID are increasingly finding themselves unable to work. Some of these employees have access to their employer’s benefits package, including short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability benefits (LTD). Under most insurance policies, when an employee applies for STD or LTD benefits, they must be able to show their employer’s benefits provider that due to their health complications, they cannot perform their “own occupation.” In other words, the medical evidence must demonstrate that they can’t complete their essential job duties. If employees can successfully show that they are disabled from performing their occupation, they are entitled to disability benefits. After about two years, the definition of disability may change to provide that the employee must show that they cannot perform “any occupation” for which they would be reasonably suited, typically with regard to their education, training and experience. If the insurance company can identify any job the employee would be medically able to perform, disability benefits may end under the terms of the insurance policy. As we’ve seen above, employees may suffer from several notable cognitive disorders and mental health illnesses due to long COVID. Some workers may be concerned that their employer’s STD or LTD leave benefits do not cover these issues. Those employees can rest assured that their medical difficulties due to long COVID can and will be covered by their STD and LTD leave policies in most cases. The illnesses and complications caused by long COVID are not new or difficult to diagnose. For example, an employee who suffers from depression related to long COVID is equally entitled to apply for and receive disability benefits as an employee who suffers from disabling depression for other reasons. There is no reason for an insurance company to treat these employees differently as long as the medical evidence supports total disability in each case. Disability benefits are designed to cover any medical issues that prevent an employee from fulfilling the day-to-day responsibilities of their job, and complications arising from long COVID are no exception.
Employment Lawyers in Toronto
If you have any doubts about how you are being treated by your employer or disability benefits provider, contact Lecker & Associates. Our team of experienced Toronto employment lawyers will assess your situation and provide legal advice to support you.
Call us today at 866-945-1819 to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.