CAUTION: While receiving disability benefits, please proceed with any travel or vacation plans with caution. Travelling could put receipt of your disability benefits at risk. See the tips below if you intend to travel while on disability benefits.
Traveling can be a therapeutic and transformative experience, providing moments of much-needed respite from daily stressors.
But for those on short term disability benefits or long term disability benefits in Canada, breaking out of their routine to take a holiday overseas can seem like an impossible dream. You may fear you don’t have the financial means to make this journey happen or worry about how your travel plans could impact your current situation — but with the right information a trip might not be as difficult as you think! With some awareness, informed decision making, and resourceful planning, you can take some much-needed time away knowing that you're not breaking any rules or putting your LTD benefits in jeopardy.
In this blog post, we'll cover the basics of taking a vacation while on disability benefits in order to keep your trip as stress-free as possible and protect your benefits.
4 Steps to Vacation While on Disability
If you're planning a vacation while on LTD benefits, step one will be to review your policy before planning any trips to see if you are eligible for travel. Your policy may have restrictions about your right to travel while receiving money from the insurance company. It is important to read your policy thoroughly in order to understand the limitations of your disability benefits coverage. In some cases, your policy might say that you must inform your insurance company about any plans for an extended trip outside of Canada and provide them with certain documents prior to departure, such as a travel plan detailing dates and destinations. For longer absences from the country, pre-approval may be required as many policies will not continue payments if you leave Canada.
In most cases, there will be a clause in a policy for international travel with the claimant's doctor's signoff. Taking a holiday is not usually included in policy restrictions, but it is better to be safe than put your benefits at risk.
Once you’ve determined that taking a holiday while on claim is something allowed by your policy, make sure you have your doctor's approval before solidifying any travel plans. Having medical clearance from your doctor or specialist is essential before you travel, as the insurance company may view a vacation as being inconsistent with your claim of being disabled from gainful employment. Your healthcare professional will need to indicate in writing that your treatment plan will not be affected and that it will be safe for you to travel.
If you feel nervous about being cut off despite getting clearance, keep a journal with details about your activities and how your health was impacted. Talk about what you have done, what you had trouble with, and how your symptoms impacted those around you. For example, "can't walk long distances," "couldn't play with my children," etc. This can help show that you needed some relaxation but that your activities were still hindered by your disabling symptoms.
Once you have medical clearance, it is also important to contact the insurance company and inform them that you are planning a vacation. Your insurance provider must be aware of any changes in your condition or lifestyle that may effect your long term disability claim, such as travel for leisure purposes. Our disability lawyers have seen many cases of Canadians being cut off from their benefits by their insurance companies, who believe that if the claimant can take a vacation while on disability benefits, they should be able to work.
It is essential to remember that despite taking a vacation, you will still need to keep all of your appointments with doctors and specialists related to your long term disability benefits. Canceling or missing any appointments could lead to the disability insurance company cutting you off from your disability benefits.
Additionally, if any medical care is needed during the vacation, you should notify the insurance carrier immediately upon returning home.
Surveillance While on Vacation
Our disability lawyers advise caution when it comes to posting on social media during a vacation. It's tempting to share your memories with friends and family, but beware of potential surveillance and monitoring done by the insurance company. Your photos and videos could be used against you to dispute your disability claim. Don't let a moment of joy and relaxation derail your claim. Be very careful about what you're sharing online.
The Bottom Line on Taking a Vacation While on LTD Benefits
Balance logic and caution to ensure that your travel activities don't give off the wrong impression. Remember, the insurance company is always looking for a way to deny you or take you off claim. If you're unsure, rework your plans to avoid any potential misunderstandings. By taking proper precautionary measures, you can make your dream vacation a reality!
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