COVID-19: Disability insurance and mental health

COVID-19: Disability insurance and mental health

If COVID-19 has affected your mental health, you may be eligible for disability insurance

The outbreak of a global pandemic is something many people considered a possibility, while simultaneously doubted. In the wake of COVID-19, the world seemed to come to a grinding halt. Millions of people suddenly had to learn how to cope with something they’ve never experienced. If your mental health has been severely affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible for disability insurance.

How a person reacts to an unforeseen and unusual circumstance is different for everyone, and can depend on various factors. For some, an infectious disease outbreak can cause or worsen existing psychological conditions that are, or become, disabling. It is normal to feel emotions like sadness, nervousness, confusion, and anger in any situation. However, it is not healthy if you are experiencing severe emotional distress or addiction that affects your ability to complete basic day-to-day activities.

What is disability insurance? 

Disability insurance is typically offered through your employer, but may also be purchased privately. It provides you with income support if you are unable to work because of a physical or psychological disability. If you are unsure if your employer offers disability insurance, contact your human resources department.

There are two types of disability insurance; long-term and short-term. To submit a disability claim you will need to have the support of a medical professional who can attest that your disability prevents you from working. Without medical proof or advice from a doctor, your insurance company will likely deny your claim.

Know your disability rights during COVID-19.

Disability claims related to mental health 

Under most insurance policies, mental health-related conditions are considered an illness/injury, just like physical conditions. You can apply for disability insurance if the severity of your mental health condition prohibits you from performing the duties of your job. 

Some mental health conditions include (but are not limited to): 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Affective disorders (i.e., depression, bipolar disorder)
  • Autism 
  • Organic mental disorders (i.e., dementia, Alzheimer’s, amnesia)
  • Substance abuse 
  • Schizophrenia, paranoia, and psychotic disorders

Advice on submitting a disability claim for mental health 

Before you submit a disability claim, you must read over your insurance policy. Some policies will exclude mental disorders and conditions or have a specific definition of what it means to be ‘disabled.’ Unfortunately, mental health-related disability claims are notoriously difficult to get approved due to a lack of “sufficient medical documentation.”

Some ways to help reduce the likelihood of getting your mental health-related disability benefit denied:

  • Ensure that your condition meets your insurance policies defined criteria of ‘disability.’
  • Be strategic when filing your claim, try to include as many physical symptoms associated with your mental health disability as possible
  • Be sure to seek psychological and psychiatric medical care in a timely manner
  • See a doctor, therapist and psychiatrist if possible
  • Follow the treatment plan and take all prescriptions recommended by your doctor. Be sure to document any side effects you get from medications.  

You may find it difficult to see a mental health professional due to COVID-19-related restrictions. If so, contact your family doctor to see if they can provide services to you over the phone or offer you another solution.  

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis 

If you are currently experiencing a mental health crisis and cannot immediately see a doctor, call:

Crisis Services Canada (toll-free, 24/7): 1 (833) 456-4566 
or text (between 4 pm and 12 am ET): 45645.

For additional Canada-wide mental health resources, visit the Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Support website.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call 9-1-1.