Importance of Communication During a Disability Claim

In this post we'll review ways in which you can ensure that your team member's disability claim goes smoothly.

When a member of your team finds him or herself unable to work due to an illness or injury, the process of assisting them with a disability claim can enhance their feelings of trust toward your organization and shorten the period they are away. The process could also erode the employee-employer relationship you’ve worked hard to establish.


Here are some quick tips to help ensure that the process goes smoothly for both you and your team member:


1) Have a policy in place: Disability can strike at any time in a person’s life. Accidents, illnesses, or injuries can all prevent an employee from doing their job. Coverage for Long- and Short-term disability is an important benchmark of your team’s financial security.


While most employers rely on accident and illness coverage from the Employment Insurance program, Long-Term Disability is not covered by any government program unless the person qualifies for CPP Disability or other government program for the severely disabled.


Long-Term Disability premiums are employee paid in over 95% of organizations. The reason for this is that any benefits received would be tax-free in the event of a claim.


Tip: Let us know if you would like a quote to add this coverage onto your plan if you don’t already have it.


2) Communicate with employees what they can expect in the event of a claim: Too often, organizations find themselves wondering how long an employee will be able to stay on the health and dental program and who will pay the premiums.


Tip: Include this information in your employee policy manual. Get your employees to sign the manual to confirm that they have reviewed this information. This is critical in the event of a dispute.


Tip: We normally recommend that employees be allowed to stay on the benefits plan with the existing split between employee/employer paid premiums for 24 months or until the “any occupation” definition of disability commences.


3) Provide forms to the employee well in advance of the benefit start date: Employees who suddenly find themselves without an income feel immensely frustrated when they are eligible to start receiving disability income replacement benefits and their claim is still be adjudicated.


By providing the necessary forms as quickly as possible while the plan member is already accessing medical attention for his or her issue, they can avoid unnecessary trips back to their attending physician(s).


Tip: There are no hard-and-fast rules about how long in advance the forms can be provided. This year we’ve helped plan members diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, at which point the forms should be provided immediately as a return to work is not anticipated; as well as severe depression and anxiety, where things can change drastically within a short time frame.


By providing clarity to your plan members during a vulnerable time in their lives, you are establishing that circle of trust and culture of caring that your team needs to bring their best selves to work every day.