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Everyone experiences symptoms of a mental health issue or disturbance from time to time. In Canada, in any given year, 1 in 5 people will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association

While not all mental illnesses will cause a person to become so debilitated that they cannot work or continue to work for an indefinite period of time, some certainly do. They may become depressed or anxious depending on certain circumstances. Some people may progress to develop an actual mental illness like anxiety disorder or clinical depression. Others may be genetically predisposed to mental illnesses like personality disorders, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia. 

In such cases when mental illness becomes so pronounced that a person can’t work, can they make a disability claim? Yes, they can.  

Mental Health Disability Claims

motorcycle rider, seen from the perspective of a car driver

In Canada, a disability claim may be based on physical health or mental health condition. Today, it’s very clear that mental illnesses can grow in severity and prevent a person from functioning normally or being able to work. In such cases, Canadians can make disability claims.

Whether making disability claims with an insurance company or the government, the process of applying for any type of disability benefits, whether related to a mental illness or physical disability can be lengthy and complex. With adequate supporting medical evidence of mental health disability and the guidance of a long-term disability lawyer, people can greatly increase their chances of having disability benefits approved.

Is It Harder to Get Mental Health Disability Benefits Than Benefits for Physical Disabilities?

In principle, it shouldn’t be any more difficult for a person with a mental illness to earn disability benefits than someone who has a physical disability, but the truth is, that is sometimes the case. Employment insurance may deny long-term disability benefits for someone with a mental health condition if they deem it to be not serious (debilitating) enough to prevent the person from working. The group insurance plan provided may not offer substantive replacement income for people who have long-term disabilities or who are permanently disabled.

Also, current employees may find that obtaining medical evidence for mental health conditions is less challenging for short-term disability coverage, depending on their group insurance plan, but insurance providers require more stringent medical evidence and access to medical records to approve of financial help or monthly payments for a long-term mental health condition.

Making a Mental Health Claim for Disability Benefits

Long-term disability claims are associated with a complex application process that in no way is guaranteed to meet with approval. Employment insurance companies will never give someone the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the approval of long-term disability claims. In the U.S., it’s much the same for a person applying for long-term Social Security disability benefits for physical or mental illnesses. The application process involves considerable time; it can take months for a Canadian mental health commission associated with disability insurance to approve or deny someone’s mental illness long-term disability claim. 

The simple act of applying for disability benefits of any type can be stressful in itself. Someone who is struggling with a severe mental illness may find it especially difficult to manage the employment insurance disability application process. Many mental disorders cannot be easily managed to allow someone the ability to cope with the application process. Many Canadians who might qualify for mental health disability benefits may go without them simply for this reason.

What Mental Health Conditions Are Most Likely to Be Approved for long-term Disability Benefits?

Again, in theory, any mental disorders can be qualifying conditions for disability benefits or financial help if a person is unable to work for an extended period of time. However, a person with mental health problems related to any mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, affective disorders, or other mental illnesses may still be able to work in spite of their mental health issues–unless they become so severe that they become unable to work. 

The underlying cause of mental illnesses, the severity of symptoms, and how a person’s brain responds to treatment by a doctor are all factors in whether a person may be approved or denied mental health disability benefits.

Moreover, the individual’s work environment and essential duties, company sickness policy, the company’s insurance policy, the individual’s private insurance policy (if they have one), the presence of long-term disability insurance, and group insurance plan provided play roles in disability benefits too–who gets them and who doesn’t.

DWA LAW – Support for Claiming Mental Health Disability Benefits

Certainly, a doctor can provide a person in need of mental health disability benefits with medical evidence that documents their medical condition. That, of course, is the first step for applying for long-term disability benefits. Disability insurance companies will necessarily demand that applicants produce evidence of the medical condition or mental health disorder before they will even consider the disability claim.

Doctors can provide diagnostic and statistical manual documentation for disability insurance providers as well as medical records, treatments provided for the mental health condition, treatments that may be needed for the mental illness, and other evidence that demonstrates the individual’s mental health disability severity.

Even so, that’s often not enough to earn long-term disability benefits for a mental illness. Many people with severe mental health conditions are denied benefits. Unless an insurer will provide replacement income, how are these individuals meant to support themselves – or their families? Many people with mental illnesses find support from an area law firm that will help them with the disability insurance application process. A disability claim attorney can also help a person appeal a mental health disability benefits denial.

If you are struggling with a mental health disability in Ontario, DWA LAW can help. Our support services can help you navigate the mental health disability application procession. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

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