Long term disability benefits are a safety net that usually lasts until around 65 years of age*, based on the specific terms of your policy. But this doesn't tell the whole story about when these benefits might end.
Ideally, anyone who can't work and has insurance should receive long term disability benefits until they're around 65, but not everyone does. What counts as a "disability" can change after two years (24 months), and this shift can cause some people to stop receiving their benefits even before they are close to 65 years old.
When does long term disability end? 3 scenarios
Very broadly, long term disability payments end in one of three situations:
When long term disability ends
Return to work:
You recover and are able to resume performing the essential duties of your position.
Change of Definition:
The definition of what constitutes a disability changes in your policy.
Reach around age 65:
You remain unable to work until you reach around 65, when long term disability benefits end.
While this explanation is straightforward, how your insurance company handles it isn't. Below, we will go into more depth on the hurdles you face to keep your benefits from coming to a premature end.
Maintaining long term disability eligibility
The duration of your long term disability benefits can range from a couple of years to several decades, depending on your insurer and the specifics of your disability policy. Usually, these benefits continue until you are around 65 or are able to go back to work. Yet, it's crucial to keep fulfilling the eligibility requirements. If the insurance provider finds that you no longer meet these requirements, it could significantly curtail the duration of your disability benefits.
Generally, individuals qualify for disability claims if they have a sustained illness or a physical or mental disability that hinders them from working or carrying out certain tasks essential for their regular job tasks. To be eligible for a disability claim, medical evidence from a doctor or specialist is required to confirm that your medical condition prevents you from performing your job.
Having specialized in disability law for over 35 years, our team of disability lawyers understands that many people applying for disability struggle with debilitating symptoms but lack a formal diagnosis. Despite not having a diagnosis, those battling disabling symptoms should still be eligible for employee disability benefits, provided they can give detailed information about their symptoms and how these symptoms impede their ability to work.
What is a Change of Definition?
The Change of Definition in a long term disability claim refers to an alteration in the policy's interpretation of what constitutes a disability. This change typically occurs after you've been on long term disability for 24 months.
Initially, the definition of disability is based on your inability to perform your "own occupation." However, after the Change of Definition, it shifts to the inability to perform "any occupation" that matches your education, skills, or experience. Although the phrasing may vary slightly, this general shift encapsulates the typical Change of Definition. In essence, to qualify for long term disability during the “any occupation” period, you must be completely or significantly incapacitated from performing any job for which you are qualified.
So, while initially, insurance companies focus on whether you can return to your specific job, post-change, they assess your ability to perform any job. They might broadly interpret this, suggesting that if you can earn minimum wage in roles like a parking attendant, then you're capable of working and no longer eligible for continued disability benefits. This is simply not true.
What to do if your long term disability benefits end prematurely
"When does long term disability end?" is a common question among those receiving disability benefits. If you or a loved one find yourselves in this situation, it's highly recommended you seek advice from a long term disability lawyer. An experienced law firm specializing in disability cases can ensure your rights are protected throughout the process, gain access to necessary resources, and challenge any unjust denials by the insurance company.
Whether you're contemplating filing a disability claim, waiting for a response on an application, or unjustly denied benefits, the team at Share Lawyers is here to assist. We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, and initial consultations are free. These consultations offer a thorough understanding of your specific disability benefits case and all potential options. The sooner you seek this assistance, the better your chances of a successful claim. Don't hesitate to reach out.
Should you have any questions regarding long term disability insurance, we're ready to stand up for your rights and secure the compensation you deserve.
*Please note, not all long term disability policy coverage is the same. Policies range to end anywhere from 60-75 years of age. Please consult your particular disability policy.
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. Watch our web show, Your Disability Lawyers, on YouTube, or listen to the podcast on Google Podcasts.