Sudden Disability & Can't Work? Here's What to Do

If you have recently become disabled or developed disabling symptoms, you may be going through many challenges as you come to terms with your new condition. We know things are not easy for you right now. While you can't change what has happened, what you do have control over is what you do next. In our 35+ years of experience, we have helped over 8,000 clients who are in a similar position to you. We understand what you are going through and would like to offer some suggestions for what to do next.

How to cope after major life changes

Allow yourself to grieve

Consider finding support or professional help from a psychologist, counsellor, or social worker to help you navigate through the emotional upheaval that your disability may be causing.

Stay in the present

It's inevitable that you may have regrets about the past and fears about the future, but remind yourself that that kind of stress and worry will do nothing to change your current reality. Take it one day at a time.

Eliminate as much stress as you can

If you were a busy, active person prior to your symptoms, you may have a hard time accepting that your abilities and energy levels have changed. You may have to reduce your commitments and responsibilities in order to strike a new balance that brings harmony to your life. Remember that saying no to people or walking away from pastimes you once loved does not mean you have failed; it means that you are brave enough to examine what serves you today and what you need to let go of.

Develop a support network

Some people are fortunate to have family or friends who are loving, trustworthy and helpful in times of need. If you don't have someone like this in your life, it is vital to find a support group. Support groups are made up of people with common experiences who can not only sympathize with you, they can also relate to you and remind you that you are not alone. Support groups are also great places to learn about helpful medical treatments, resources and financial bursaries that may be available to you.

Be kind to yourself

Practice positive self-talk. Congratulate yourself on your successes, no matter how small. Pamper yourself whenever you can. If you have certain activities that make you feel safe, calm and relaxed, try to incorporate them into your daily routine.

Be kind to others

Being faced with illness or disability can make some people uncomfortable, and it's safe to say that not everyone handles it well. Do yourself a favour and expect that interactions with family, friends, colleagues and strangers may be challenging, at first. Give them the benefit of the doubt if they do or say something to offend you. After all, they are learning to cope with your disability just as you are. Open, honest communication will help you and your loved ones get over this hurdle. On the other hand, if you are experiencing verbal or physical abuse, stand up for yourself and seek help to be removed from that situation.

Find a new purpose

If your disability has stopped you from working, your sense of self may have shifted greatly; after all, for better or worse, our society places a great emphasis on employment and professional status. Do look for a new reason to wake up in the morning, no matter how small it may seem at first. A good book, a crossword, an arts and crafts project, a movie, bird watching, painting, volunteer work; if it makes you smile and feel productive again, you are on the right track.

Don't delay in accessing all resources and financial supports available to you

Whether it's through the government, your employee group benefits plan or your private insurance policy, make the necessary applications for assistance as soon as you are eligible (guidelines vary depending on the source.) Many individuals will put this critical task on the back-burner because they may have trouble accepting that their life has changed, and they may have to live with their disability on a long-term basis or forever. Don't deplete your savings or put your assets at risk. You have nothing to lose by applying for benefits and services. They are there to help you keep up with your financial responsibilities and maintain your lifestyle so that you can focus on your health.

Seriously Consider if You Can Continue Working

Taking a medical leave from work is not an easy decision to make. Concerns about providing for yourself and your family and keeping your job may cause you to want to push through your pain, but this won’t make your problems go away. Stopping work is often the smartest decision for your long term health and wellbeing, and your disability benefits are there to provide you with financial support until you can return to work.

Your health comes first

If working with your medical symptoms has become so difficult that you are considering applying for short-term disability or long-term disability benefits, you shouldn’t second guess yourself. Your health should be your number one priority. If you are suffering and unable to work, you need to stop. There are many advantages to taking the time off that you need – from healing an injury, to being free to seek proper medical care, to stress reduction. Adding strain to a bad situation can be very detrimental to your health and make your condition worse.

If you go part-time, your disability benefits could be reduced

Many people don’t realize that reducing their working hours can result in a reduction in the benefits they are eligible for. Your insurance company will look at the average hours you worked over a period of time to determine the number of hours you are eligible to claim for your short term disability and long term disability benefits. If you choose to reduce your hours, you may only be able to claim benefits for the part-time hours you are currently working instead of the full-time hours you formerly worked. This is very risky. The reduced benefit entitlement may not be sufficient to cover your cost of living, medications, and treatments when you need them the most.

If you go part-time, you may lose your disability benefits altogether

Before you take the plunge and reduce your working hours due to a disability, you should read your insurance policy carefully. Some group disability benefit plans may exclude you once you reduce your hours below a certain number per week. This means that if you find yourself unable to perform your reduced workload in the future you may no longer be eligible to receive any disability benefits at all.

If you stay at work, you risk being fired

Even if you push yourself to the limits in order to stay at work you may not be doing yourself or your company any favours. You may risk delaying your recovery or injuring yourself further. If you ask yourself honestly whether you are doing your job to the best of your ability, you will probably say no. This opens up the possibility that your employer has noticed that you are not doing your best work and that you are not contributing to the company like you were before. The employer may choose to terminate your employment for cause (which means you cannot sue for wrongful dismissal) if you are not doing your job properly.

Apply for long term disability benefits

You have made the tough decision to stop working and apply for your short term disability or long term disability benefits. You have told your employer and you’re collecting the necessary documents in order to make your disability claim. Now what? You may feel overwhelmed by the process and have questions that your employer and your insurance company are not able or willing to answer. Share is There to see you through and answer your questions.

When your focus is on your health, spending the time to fill out your short term disability or long term disability forms can be frustrating and burdensome. However, it is necessary for you to complete your application in order to get the financial support you need. This video will give you some further tips to assist you in the submission of your disability claim.

Tips for applying for LTD

  • Make sure you file the disability claim in a timely manner to avoid missing deadlines.
  • Keep records of everything related to your disability case.
  • Take notes of your conversations with the insurance companies and your doctors and nurses.
  • Be honest with your doctors when discussing your disability claim.

  • Be brief when filling out the forms — you don’t want your insurance company to use your words against you and it is better to have your doctor provide the proof on why you need to be off work.

  • Read your insurance policy. Familiarize yourself with the part of your policy that dictates the proper procedure for filing a claim.

  • Be honest when filing your disability claim — fraudulent or exaggerated claims can backfire on you, and can even mean serious criminal charges.

  • Contact Share Lawyers in the event that your claim is denied and arrange a free consultation.

If the insurance company denies your LTD claim

If your insurance company has denied your long-term disability benefits, it may be time to hire a lawyer. We understand that things have not been easy for you over the last little while. Your health has been suffering, you are unable to work, and now your insurance company, who was supposed to be there in your time of need, has decided they will not pay your disability benefits. These benefits exist to provide you with the financial support you need so that you can focus on your health and rebuilding your life. It is unfortunate that your insurance provider has not lived up to its promise. If your claim has been denied, we will fight to get you the benefits you are entitled to. Our disability lawyers have helped thousands of Canadians get their long term disability benefits, and we can help you too.

Time to hire a lawyer

However, the thought of a lawsuit may be downright terrifying to you. Whether it's due to a negative past experience or a fear of the unknown, there are many valid reasons why you may be wary of taking legal action against your insurance company.

Two of the most common reasons why claimants are reluctant to approach a lawyer are a fear of being charged more than they can afford and having no control over the outcome of their case.

Share Lawyers can help

How do we allay these fears at Share Lawyers?

We choose not to charge an hourly fee but instead, work on a No Win / No Fee basis. Hiring a lawyer on this basis means that you don't pay any money unless your lawyer wins your case. Fees are calculated as a percentage of the total amount recovered, and this percentage is laid out in the retainer agreement so there are no surprises after the case has begun. This fee arrangement assures our clients that we are working diligently to win them the maximum settlement possible. When our clients win, we win. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement that puts our clients minds at ease and encourages trust.

Transparency is essential

At Share Lawyers, we also like to keep our clients informed at every stage of their case. Transparency is essential. We advise our clients about what the law says about their case and lay out the options, but it is up to the client to decide what they want. While we provide expert guidance and direction; ultimately, the decision to submit, accept and/or reject a settlement is up to the client.

We also encourage our clients to ask questions and share their concerns from the outset--we believe this is so important that we have a client service lawyer dedicated to providing our clients with clarity on matters pertaining to their case. These measures give the client an active role in their case and help to demystify the legal process.

Ultimately, deciding to hire a lawyer, and choosing the right one, is a personal matter. You should always try to find a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable. Booking a free, no-obligation consultation is a good way to get a sense of the lawyer's experience and approach.

To learn about what to expect if you choose to sue your insurance company, click here.

How to deal with a lawsuit when you're sick

Dealing with a lawsuit

Dealing with a lawsuit involves a number of important steps. No matter what, your first step should always be to have an experienced lawyer representing you who can provide you with the best representation and walk you through all of the complicated legal negotiations and proceedings that will help you win your case. It goes without saying that dealing with a lawsuit when you are sick or unwell can be even more complicated and stressful, especially if an insurance company has denied you the disability benefits you deserve.

The Share Lawyers team has years of experience and expertise on their side, and they know first-hand just how difficult this process can be. Take the pressure off and put us to work for you! Share Lawyers will always work hard to settle your case quickly, courteously and professionally so that you'll have peace of mind and you can get back to focusing on your health and well-being.

In the meantime, consider these simple suggestions to keep you feeling relaxed during this complicated process:


Meditation can be a great way to relax, especially if you are under a lot of stress. Research has shown that meditation can be helpful in lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and even improving cognitive performance. It's incredibly simple to do- just find a comfortable place, close your eyes, relax your muscles and focus on just one thing, a picture in your mind. The key is to stay focused and not let outside distractions enter your mind!

Listen to music

Listening to soothing music can be very relaxing--and slow tempos in particular can induce a calmer state of mind. Did you know it can also slow down breathing and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and relax tense muscles too? This can be particularly beneficial when you're getting ready for a tough day at work. Listening to music helps if you're in your car stuck in traffic. As well, it can help when you're lying in bed trying to free your mind of stressful thoughts.


Denied your long term disability claim?

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. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless you win your case. Join us on Facebook and become a Top Fan for a chance to win each month.

Related Articles

We’re here to support you during this difficult time

How can we help?