We often hear the question: Is addiction a disability? The straightforward answer is an emphatic yes. Because addictions can interfere with day-to-day functioning, they can form the basis for a disability claim.
This answer is not so straightforward, however, when considering whether or not insurance companies recognize addiction as a disability. The answer becomes murkier when taking into consideration what region you’re in. For instance, is addiction a disability in Ontario?
Like many other “invisible” disabilities, addiction can be challenging to prove in an objective medical sense, which often leads to suspicion from insurance companies—who will seize any opportunity to avoid paying out a claim.
Success in these cases hinges on aligning with the policy's criteria and providing evidence for your case. This matter can be complicated to navigate, so it is crucial to speak with a disability lawyer at Share Lawyers to get the most accurate information and fearless representation.
Is Addiction a Disability in Ontario? Our expert disability lawyers can answer that.
Is Addiction a Disability in Ontario?
Broadly speaking, yes. An addiction is a disability because it can negatively impact your ability to function, work, and perform basic daily activities. While it can be the basis for a disability claim, insurance companies do not define addiction in the same way. The recognition of addiction as a disability will depend on the specific phrasing of your insurance policy.
Criteria for Defining Addiction as a Disability Under Canadian Insurance Policies
Impairment of Daily Functioning
Addiction must significantly impede an individual's ability to carry out day-to-day activities, affecting cognitive, physical, or social functioning.
Your insurance policy may require comprehensive medical documentation, including evidence of the impact of addiction on your health and ability to work.
Treatment and Compliance
Policies may require treatment programs and compliance with medical advice, like participating in rehabilitation programs for addiction.
Duration of Disability
The duration and persistence of any addiction-related disability must align with the policy's definition of a qualifying disability, which may require proof of a prolonged or permanent impairment.
Evidence must demonstrate how addiction affects a person's ability to perform work-related tasks, which may lead to job limitations or loss of employment.
Some policies may require enrolment in rehabilitation programs as part of the eligibility criteria.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Disability claims must comply with laws and relevant regulations to ensure they adhere to established guidelines and criteria.
Medical Professional Evaluation
Assessing the severity of addiction, its effects on functioning, and the potential for recovery requires evaluations by medical professionals, including psychiatrists and addiction specialists.
Because different policies have distinct criteria, your condition must meet any addiction-specific requirements outlined in your individual disability insurance policy.
The Stigma of Addiction
The social stigma of years past labeled addicts as people with a basic moral or character flaw, not as people struggling with a disease. The dated assumption that all addicts are the same, and they’re somehow “less than” people without an addiction persists, even today—despite our advances in medicine and other technologies. Such stigma may result from a lack of understanding about what addiction is or how it presents. For instance, drug and alcohol addictions are pretty straightforward concepts, but some lesser-known addictions may surprise you, including:
Prescription medication dependency
Social media addictions
Changing Beliefs About Addiction
Because of the negative stereotype surrounding addiction, some people struggle to recognize it as a disability. Outdated beliefs or misunderstandings may lead them to assume that addiction is nothing more than a series of poor choices. This could not be further from the truth. In many ways, it parallels how other mental health conditions, like depression, can negatively impact your work capabilities.
Regardless of personal beliefs, the fact remains that addiction is a medical disease—one that impairs physical, psychological, and social functioning. Unfortunately for those who struggle with this disease, insurance companies have the luxury of defining “addiction” as they please, making it difficult for people to get the support they need.
Is Addiction Covered Under Disability Insurance Policies?
Your eligibility depends on your policy. Insurance companies can exploit the stigma and common misconceptions surrounding addiction to deny benefits to those struggling with it.
Substance abuse, including drug or alcohol addiction, can be the basis for disability benefits under a typical group policy, provided you comply with medical treatment, which often involves participation in a treatment program.
Time Limits and Denied Claims
Don’t let your case get denied because you missed a crucial deadline. Many policies have challenging time limits, and Share Lawyers can help. We're here to discuss your case, offering assistance to you and your family, and you won’t pay any fees unless your case is won.
Seek Professional Assistance From Share Lawyers for Addiction-Related Disability Claims
For over 35 years, we've represented clients managing various addictions—alcohol, drugs, gambling—and faced down their denied long term disability claims. If you're dealing with addiction and wondering about your legal rights, we can help.
If your addiction is significantly affecting your work performance, reach out to Share Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights. We work for individuals, not corporations, and will guide you along the process to secure the disability benefits you paid for.
Dealing with the challenges of addiction is difficult enough, so let us handle your insurance company. Best of all, you won’t pay any fees unless your case is won. Let Share Lawyers do the heavy lifting on your behalf so you can get back to living your life.
Still asking, “Is Addiction a Disability in Ontario?”
Contact Share Lawyers today and put our experience to work for you. Our 35+ years of experience can help you win your case against Canada Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and other insurance companies. Our legal team offers a free consultation and works on a contingency basis - there are no fees unless you win your case.