Before you make a disability claim, you need to identify the disability benefits you may qualify for. There are several types of disability benefits plans and programs in Ontario and each has its own eligibility requirements. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for more than one disability benefit.
Here are the most common sources of disability income:
Sick Pay from your Employer
Many employers offer paid sick days as a non-wage benefit. Some employers let you “bank” unused sick leave and you may have accumulated a significant amount of sick pay. Check with your HR department because, if you have access to sick pay, then you must use it first when you go on disability leave.
Short-term Disability Benefits
Some employers offer short-term disability benefits or salary continuation benefits as a non-wage benefit. Short-term disability benefits usually provide income to employees who are off work for up to 3 months. The length of time benefits are available varies from policy to policy. You need to check to see if your employer offers short-term disability benefits and, if so, for what period of time.
Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits
If your employer does not provide short-term disability benefits, then you may qualify for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits.
Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits provide income replacement for up to 15 weeks. To qualify, your income must be reduced by at least 40%, you must be employed by a qualifying employer, and you must have already earned 600 hours of insurable employment.
Long-term Disability Insurance Benefits
Some people are covered by a long-term disability policy. This could be a workplace group policy provided by your employer or union, or it could be an individual disability insurance policy that you bought. These policies may pay disability benefits for several years, until the individual qualifies for a pension or to age 65. You are usually eligible for long-term disability benefits if your disability is caused by an illness or accident. If your disability was caused by a workplace accident, then the long-term disability benefits may not be available or they may overlap with workers compensation benefits.
Canada Pension Plan Disability
Many Canadian workers can apply for disability benefits from the Canada Pension Plan. In order to be eligible to receive these benefits you have to be continuously disabled and off work for 4 months. You must be under age 65, unable to maintain gainful employment due to disability, and have made recent contributions to the Canada Pension Plan in order to qualify for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits.
Workers Compensation Benefits
Many workers are covered by Provincial Workers Compensation Programs. Most businesses are required to participate in a workers compensation program, with some exceptions. Each province has its own workers compensation program. To be eligible for workers compensation benefits you must have a work-related injury that occurred while working for an employer enrolled in a workers compensation program.
Provincial Disability Benefits or Income Support Programs
There is a disability income program in each province for eligible residents. These provincial disability income programs are usually the last resort if you do not qualify for any other form of disability income. These programs have both a disability and financial criteria. This means that you can only qualify for provincial disability support income if you are disabled and your income and assets fall below certain levels. Even if you are unable to work due to disability, you may not qualify for provincial disability support income if a family member has sufficient income, or if you have significant assets such as a home, or savings, etc.
Given the variety of sources that provide disability benefits it is important to identify the disability benefits you may qualify for. Under certain circumstances you may qualify for more than one disability benefit.