Time for Canadian insurance companies to recognize ‘invisible’ disabilities

You can read this article on the Toronto Star website here.

Before the pandemic, many who suffered from disabilities were forced to suffer in silence. As the working world returns to “normal,” we simply cannot ignore the billion people in the world experiencing some form of disability.

Amidst the Great Resignation, we have seen an explosion in disability claims arising from mental health issues since the onset of the pandemic. Employers need to be aware of this burgeoning problem and to be better at accommodating employees struggling with mental health disabilities.

As a lawyer with 35 years in disability insurance litigation, I know that invisible disability claims are far less likely to be accepted by insurance companies. As the world wakes up to the reality of mental health disability, this unfair asymmetry cannot continue. Invisible disabilities can impact individuals as much as visible ones. It’s time that both insurance companies and workplaces wake up to that fact.

The pandemic has triggered a fundamental power shift. With more leverage in the hands of the employee, now is the time for people with disabilities to stake their claim; there has never been a better time for people with long-term disabilities to advocate for greater accommodation in the workplace.

These accommodations should start with more inclusive hiring practices. For example, 3.8 million Canadians were living with a long-term disability prior to the pandemic, 12 per cent of them report having been refused a job in the previous five years as a result of their condition. But they should also include the kind of accommodations that are designed to support disabled workers in breaking down the social and physical barriers they face and facilitating their participation as productive members of the workforce.

This is not as simple as providing basic accommodations like wheelchair access. Accommodation must include visible and invisible disabilities. Someone suffering from Crohn’s disease may need to be in an office that is adjacent to a bathroom. Someone suffering from recurrent migraines may need light, sound, or scent accommodations or a flexible schedule to cope with a migraine attack.

It has been said that the only true disability is the inability to accept and respect people’s differences. Accommodating disability in the workplace begins with an understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all prescription.

In Canada, for example, millions will finally be returning to the office. A recent Angus Reid poll found half of those report feeling fatigued, while 38 per cent say they are anxious, with substance use disorders, reports CAMH, as the leading causes of disability in Canada.

Employers must evaluate the resources they have put in place to handle anxiety, stress, and depression in an empathetic and proactive manner. We’ve all been reminded just how much quality of life matters and it is time to make the lives we lead better because longevity is a guarantee none of us have.

As we try to put the pandemic behind us, we need to change perceptions in the insurance industry. Many disability claims are denied by insurers on the grounds that there is a lack of objective medical evidence to support the claim. This is particularly problematic when it comes to illnesses that are dubbed “invisible” and cannot be confirmed via “objective” diagnostic testing.

“Invisible” illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia, are not detected in blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs — but this doesn’t make them any less real, or any less debilitating. Now, long COVID, for which there is no single test, and the symptoms vary from person to person, joins the long list of “invisible” but very real conditions.

In fact, it’s estimated that there are more than half a million Canadians who are suffering, or have previously suffered from long COVID, which can present as an invisible illness, causing insurers to deny their disability claims and leaving long haulers to battle financial hardship, and suffer additional stress, as they struggle to regain their physical health.

As U.S. disability advocate Robert M. Hensel says, “there is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.”

In the wake of the pandemic, we should not accept the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to mental health and disability any longer.

Questions? Contact the long term disability insurance lawyers at Share Lawyers. Our 35+ years of experience in long term disability (LTD) law 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.

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.


A note from our long term disability lawyers

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 well-being, and your disability benefits are there to provide you with financial support until you can return to work.

If you have made the tough decision to stop working and apply for your short term disability or long term disability benefits, 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.

Our Disability law firm knows what you have been going through

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 or respect your disability claim. 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 company has not lived up to its promise. If your disability 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 over the past 35 years, and we can help you too.

Our experienced disability lawyers can fight back on your behalf

Share Lawyers believes that every client who is dealing with a disability claim deserves superior personal service. To achieve that goal, we have developed our team of experienced, compassionate, and caring long term disability lawyers, law clerks, and administrative staff to meet all of your needs. Our team of experienced long term disability, life insurance, employment, and critical illness insurance lawyers have made successful claims against many insurance companies, third-party administrators and employers.

If you are unable to work, your disability benefits should be there to provide you with the financial support you need. While your insurance company may be focused on finding ways to avoid paying your claim, our focus is on what is in your best interest. When Share Lawyers gets involved, you have an entire team of lawyers that are there to support you and to fight for what is yours.

Our disability claim lawyers fight for your disability insurance claim by relying on our many years of experience to apply the best strategic planning and approach in each case, using the latest technology available. Experience matters, and with Share Lawyers, you are in the best hands with 35 years of success on your side.

In this video, we explain the role of a long term disability lawyer and how we can support you when you have been denied your long term disability benefits.

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