Disability Benefits in Ontario: What are the Options?

Everything changes when you are injured so badly that you can no longer work. In those circumstances, whether it’s private insurance, WSIB or CPP disability, insurance is supposed to be there to replace the income you used to earn. But it can be daunting trying to figure out what benefits you might be able to access.

In today’s post, we’ll be talking about disability benefits and what the options are in Ontario, and specifically about benefits for long-term disability (up to two years and possibly beyond) rather than short-term disability (which generally covers lost income for up to six to 12 months).

Private Long-Term Disability (LTD)
You may have disability (either short-term or long-term) benefits though your benefits plan at work, or through a spouse’s plan. These benefits cover your lost income, typically for up to two years, and usually after EI or short-term disability benefits run out. If you’re unable to return to work after two years, sometimes the LTD policy will continue paying benefits until you’re 65. Proving that you can’t return to work can be a difficult test to meet. It’s always a good idea to speak to a disability insurance lawyer to make sure you get the benefits you’re entitled to.

It’s also important to know that if you’re also receiving other types of disability benefits, the amount paid by your LTD policy may be reduced.

WSIB Benefits
If you were injured or made sick because of work, WSIB benefits are supposed to cover your lost income and medical expenses. But dealing with the WSIB is notoriously difficult and it’s very important to do things “by the book”. An experienced WSIB lawyer will help you build the best possible case for the comprehensive WSIB you deserve.

Generally speaking, if you are receiving WSIB benefits, you can’t also receive private LTD benefits.

CPP Disability
This benefit is for people who have a mental or physical disability that regularly prevents them from doing any type of substantially gainful work.  You can apply for CPP disability benefits as long as you’re under 65 and have made enough contributions to CPP during your working life. (If you’re over 65, CPP disability benefit is replaced by CPP retirement pension.) These benefits come in the form of monthly payments.

If you receive CPP disability benefits, your dependent children may also receive a monthly benefit.

Some private LTD insurance providers will ask you to apply for CPP disability benefits, and then adjust the benefits they pay to you accordingly.

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
The Ontario Disability Support Program is not an insurance benefit, but a type of social assistance. It’s an income support program for people with disabilities in Ontario who need financial assistance to pay for living expenses like food and housing. This is a monthly payment that is based on your circumstances (the makeup of your household) and your housing costs.

People who live in northern Ontario may receive an additional amount, which is known as the Remote Communities Allowance.

Regardless of the disability benefit program, when you receive benefits from one source, it can affect how much money you can receive from others.  That’s why it’s important to know your rights and get as much coverage as you are entitled to.