Deciding to stop working and applying for disability benefits can be a very difficult decision to make. It is critical to carefully select when to stop working, as choosing the wrong time can lead to your claim being denied and can leave you with an uphill court battle.
Is it time?
Most people who apply for disability insurance do not need to stop working immediately. They may suffer from a chronic illness or injury that makes continuing to work problematic, but not impossible. If you choose to continue to work with a disability, it is vital that you regularly meet with your healthcare provider and that they record your symptoms and details of your work experiences. Be specific—describe tasks you find difficult at work since your disability diagnosis. You should also prepare to apply for disability insurance benefits while you are still working. If you have a chronic illness, you should plan when to stop working even more carefully. You will need to document and demonstrate that your chronic illness has progressed to a point that makes your work life impossible to maintain.
Prepare for a fight
You must prepare yourself for the inevitable—that your claim may be denied. It happens all the time, even when an individual is genuinely unwell and disabled. A great way to prepare for the worst is to have a great lawyer on your side that has a strong background in disability law—like the experienced lawyers at Share Lawyers. If the insurance company denies your application, they will carefully investigate why you chose to stop working when you did. This is where detailed medical records come in handy; your records must demonstrate that you experienced a gradual decline in health and must justify your decision to stop working when you did.
Think it through, it's a difficult decision
Many people decide to stop working on a whim and make the choice without enough evidence to reinforce their decision. Even if your doctor has advised you to stop working, getting the benefits you deserve from the insurance company is never guaranteed. The same applies if your employer states that you can’t do your job—you may still be denied. Before you take the leap, carefully review your disability benefits plan, your medical files, and then carefully make an informed decision—working with your employer and your doctor if they are supportive.
Work with a supportive doctor
Do not stop working without your doctor’s full support. Without this support, the insurance company will have an easy excuse to deny your claim. You should be transparent and thorough with your doctor. He or she must understand and document the specifics of your circumstances. It is also important that you demonstrate to your doctor that you have tried to continue working unsuccessfully. If you feel like your doctor doesn't support you or doesn't understand the scope of your disability, you may need to find a new doctor that does. In this case it may be wise to seek out a specialist rather than a general practitioner or family doctor. Often, specialists have a better understanding of what you're dealing with.
Reach out to your employer
Only after you obtain a note from your doctor that states that you are unfit to work, inform your employer that you cannot continue to work because of your disability, and present your medical note to reinforce the decision. You can then potentially arrange for medical leave from your job, which will ensure that you protected under provincial labour laws and human rights codes. Medical leave allows you to continue to have the status of “employed”, which gives you access to your medical and dental plan, pension plan, and other workplace benefits.
In most instances, taking medical leave from work is safer for both job security and securing disability benefits. Resigning or quitting your job can leave you vulnerable, because the insurance company may deny your claim based on your insurance coverage ending. Do not let your employer force you to quit, resign, or take severance. They may be motivated to do so for financial reasons that are not in your best interest.
We hope this article helps you make the difficult decision of if (and when) to stop working if you have a disability.
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