EI Sickness vs CPP Disability

If you become sick or injured severely enough that you can’t work, one of your most pressing concerns will likely be how you can keep earning income to pay your bills or support your loved ones. But with many different government benefits and insurance benefits available though your private or group insurance, you may be wondering which benefits to apply for first, and which will start to pay most quickly. In this post we’ll look at EI Sickness and how it interacts with CPP Disability and other LTD benefits.

EI Sickness

EI Sickness Benefits are a type of income support that people can apply for when they are medically unable to work. The benefits pay up to 15 weeks of income assistance, at 55% of your earnings, to a maximum of $595 a week.

You can apply for EI Sickness after you’ve been off work sick for one week. If your application is approved, you’ll typically get your first payment about 28 days after your application, and weekly payments thereafter. There are currently special provisions in place to make accessing benefits easier during COVID – read about them here.

But what happens when those 15 weeks are over? If you’ve been off work the entire time, then you’ve now made it through the 4-month waiting period required to be eligible for CPP Disability benefits.

CPP Disability

CPP Disability is a monthly benefit for people under the age of 65 who have a severe and prolonged disability that regularly prevents them from working. In 2021, the average monthly payment is $1031.55.

If you are approved for CPP Disability and continue to meet the program’s definition of disabled, you can keep receiving these benefits until the age of 65. To be eligible for CPP Disability you also need to have made a certain number of contributions. We talk about this more in our All About CPP Disability post.

In summary: EI Sickness is a short-term disability benefit that’s designed to give you income during the waiting period while you wait to qualify for CPP Disability.

One last thing to know is that if you also have private insurance benefits (through your employer, union, or other organization), you may also be able to apply for short- or long-term disability benefits. Even if you have private benefits, it’s still important to apply for EI Sickness and/or CPP Disability. Some private insurers may even require you to do so, and adjust their benefits to you accordingly.