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If you are receiving long-term disability (LTD) benefits in Ontario, you may wonder if you can work to earn extra income in addition to your disability payments. Will returning to work put your LTD benefits and entitlements at risk? 

Canada offers some paid employment options for people who receive LTD benefits but navigating the qualifications for long-term disability benefits and knowing what kind of employment you can take that will not disrupt your entitlement can be tricky. 

When faced with long-term disability, it can be a complicated and stressful experience to navigate. Fortunately, at DWA LAW our legal team of experienced professionals is there to help individuals make the right decisions. We understand long-term disability policies and can provide clear guidance on the best path forward. With compassion and understanding, we support our clients through the entire long-term disability process from beginning to end. 

Long-Term Disability Benefits In Ontario, Canada

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If you receive long-term disability benefits and return to full-time work, your LTD benefits may be in jeopardy. The insurer may consider your return to work as evidence that you are no longer disabled and end your claim, especially if the wages you earn with your return to work are as much as you were making before becoming disabled. Even earning wages close to, but not quite as much as, your pre-disability salary could jeopardize your LTD status.

Your policy’s specific terms determine whether you will maintain your full disability benefits if you decide to start working again. For example, Ontario’s “Own Occupation” policies offer LTD recipients more work options than the “Any Occupation” policies.

What is the Own Occupation Policy in Ontario?

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An Own Occupation long-term disability insurance policy defines disability as the inability of an individual to perform the essential duties of the job they had before the onset of their disability. So, for example, if your job involved walking and standing for long periods, and your disability impacted your ability to walk unassisted, you could be considered disabled under the terms of your Own Occupation policy, even if you are physically able to work in a different type of position.

Suppose your disability insurance claims are issued under an Own Occupation policy, and your new job duties differ from your previous one. In that case, your partial or total disability benefits will likely not be disrupted. However, if your earnings reach a certain level, you may lose your status or have to pay back some of the benefits you were issued.

Limits To Long Term Disability Coverage

Own Occupation LTD benefits limit the amount of benefits for each claimant, with restrictions such as:

  • If your wages exceed 70% of your pre-disability income, you will no longer meet the definition of disability

  • Reduced benefits if your combined wages and monthly disability benefit exceed 100% of your pre-disability income

You may work in another job if you receive own-occupation long-term disability benefits. Still, it’s critical to read your policy carefully to ensure you don’t inadvertently violate its terms about eligibility for partial disability payments.

Your Employment Options If You Receive LTD Benefits Under an Any Occupation Policy

Any Occupation long-term disability benefits policies provide disability benefits only for people who cannot work in any job, not just jobs that don’t involve the same duties and capabilities as the recipient’s previous one.

Many Canadian LTD policies have an own occupation period of 24 months, at which time your benefits may change from own to any occupation coverage. At this time, the monthly disability benefit may cease, as the beneficiary is considered no longer disabled, or the beneficiary may be considered permanently disabled.

Again, read your policy carefully to ensure you can return to work in some capacity or if doing so will end your disability benefits. For example, many policies stipulate that the more you earn working, the fewer benefits you will receive. But, if your wages from your new job are less than 20% of your pre-disability earnings, your LTD income will likely be unaffected.

Partial Disability Benefits and Rehabilitation Incentives

Most Any Occupation policies allow partial disability benefits for beneficiaries capable of part-time work; if your policy permits this, you can work part-time and maintain your benefits. However, if your income from the part-time job is between 20-80% of your pre-disability earnings, then your long-term disability benefits will be reduced in proportion to your earnings. You may also be required to provide your insurance company with proof of hours worked and wages earned to maintain your benefits.

Rehabilitation Incentives

Some Any Occupation policies may also offer a rehabilitation initiative for people who receive short-term disability benefits. This disability insurance benefit can help disabled people get back to part-time work or work in a different job than before. These programs provide vocational rehabilitation training and a 5-10% incentive on top of their regular long-term disability income without any “clawback.”

Do you Need a Long Term Disability Claim Lawyer?

If you are having trouble getting your full benefits allotment or know you are within the parameters of working while receiving disability, we can help. DWA LAW, personal injury and disability claims attorneys, can help appeal your disability insurance claims denial or explain your policy to ensure you comply with the requirements to maintain your long-term disability eligibility. Contact us today to book your free consultation. 

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