The lawyers at Aaron Waxman & Associates are experienced with Disability, Personal Injury and Employment claims.
October is a busy month for mental health awareness in Canada! October is Healthy Workplace Month, October 1-7, 2018 is Mental Illness Awareness Week and October is 10, 2018 is World Mental Health Day.
All of these are important initiatives because one of the driving forces of mental health awareness and mental illness awareness campaigns is to reduce stigma. It is known that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime and that stigma often prevents people from seeking treatment.
We all have mental health and it is important to take care of our mental health. Stigmatizing mental health and discrimination towards mental health can prevent a person from seeking treatment. Stigma can lead to self-stigma and withdrawal.
According to the Canadian Medical Association, 2 in 3 people suffer in silence due to fear of judgment and rejection and only 49% of Canadians said they would associate with a friend who has a serious mental illness.
This blog will provide a brief overview of these initiatives and discuss mental illness and long-term disability claims.
Healthy Workplace Month
October is Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month, an initiative to build awareness about the importance of workplace health. Why is this significant?
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), more than 500,000 Canadians will be absent from work in any week as a result of mental illness. It is expected that by the year 2020, depression will be the world’s second leading cause of disability (heart disease is the first leading cause of disability).
Having a Healthy Workplace Month nationwide is a reminder that there is a need to address mental health in the workplace. Stress, anxiety and mood disorders such as depression are listed as the most commonly seen mental health problems that impact the workplace.
Sometimes people experience high levels of stress in the work environment and develop anxiety or depression, or exacerbation of these or other conditions. Many people wonder if they can make a disability claim for “workplace stress” or “work-related stress”, “mental stress” or a “workplace conflict”.
If you are an insured employee with access to group benefits including STD/LTD, you should be aware that you can make a disability claim for workplace stress or mental distress at work, so long as you have the proper supportive medical documentation from your treating doctors. Workplace stress/mental distress can exacerbate underlying mental illnesses such as depressive or anxiety disorders or cause a person to experience depression and/or anxiety, and as a result, the person is unable to continue working.
You should also consider that in a previous blog post, we discussed that some employers have two types of LTD policies, non-occupational and occupational. Under an occupational policy, if you are unable to perform the duties of your own occupation as a result of an illness or injury related to the workplace, you may qualify for LTD benefits. This includes mental illness.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada found that 1 in 3 workplace disability claims are related to mental illness and more than 80% of Canadian employers rate mental health issues as 1 of the top 3 causes of both short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) claims.
Mental Illness Awareness Week
On October 1, 2018, Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) begins in Canada. MIAW 2018 is October 1-7, 2018.
What is Mental Illness Awareness Week? It is an annual nation public education campaign designed to educated Canadians about the reality of mental illnesses.
One of the goals of MIAW is to raise awareness and end the stigma associated with mental illness. As part of MIAW, materials from a national outreach campaign known as the Faces of Mental Illness campaign feature stories of Canadians living with mental illness are handed out to hundreds of organizations across Canada.
Statistics provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) say the following:
World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day is observed annually on October 10. It is an initiative started by the World Health Organization (WHO). The objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness about mental health issues worldwide.
This year’s theme is “Young People and Health in a Changing World”.
According to WHO, half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 but most cases are undetected and untreated and the consequences of not treating mental illness extends to adulthood, which can impair both physical and mental health. As well, it is noted that worldwide, 10-20% of adolescents experience mental health conditions.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
The facts and statistics show that awareness is an important factor in the fight against stigma. It is important that people are aware of how many Canadians are affected by mental illness.
Mental Illness and Disability Claims
When you make a claim for short-term or long-term disability benefits, there are 3 forms that make up the application package. Two forms that you are responsible for making sure are completed are the Employee Statement and the Attending Physician’s Statement. The Employee Statement is a form where you can provide details about your symptoms and limitations and how your function has been affected by your condition/illness.
The Attending Physician Statement is the form your doctor fills out. Your doctor is asked to provide a diagnosis, details about your symptoms and clinical findings, your restrictions and limitations and how they relate to your ability to work and your prognosis.
Both forms, along with the form your employer has completed (which includes details of your job duties) are taken into consideration to see if your reported limitations and restrictions, your symptoms and diagnosis would prevent you from working at your own job. Your insurance company is looking for information that shows how and why your disability prevents you from working.
Because a mental illness is an “invisible illness” it is important to document the symptoms you have been experiencing by going to your doctor(s) consistently, so you can discuss your ongoing symptoms, if there have been any changes or if new symptoms developed. Many times, the insurance company asks for the clinical notes and records of your treating physician (s) to determine if you are receiving appropriate treatment and to determine the severity of your symptoms.
You will also be asked to participate in a telephone interview with a claims adjuster who will ask you about your daily functioning and why you are unable to return to work.
A common reason for denying benefits is due to “lack of objective medical evidence”, not receiving proper treatment or following proper treatment or that there are no restrictions or limitations that would prevent you from performing your job duties.
It is important to remember that if your claim has been denied, you have the chance to fight the insurance company’s decision.
At Aaron Waxman Associates, our lawyers understand that there are many reasons why someone may make a claim for short- term or long-term disability benefits. If you or someone you know has been denied entitlement to disability benefits, if your benefits have been terminated or have questions about your claim, you can contact our office for a free initial consultation with a licensed lawyer. And always remember, there are no bad questions.
* This blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute legal advice. Please read our disclaimer for further information.
* All of our lawyers are licensed by The Law Society of Upper Canada
* Office in Toronto and able to represent people in the province of Ontario