Winning Disability Benefits for Crohn's Disease in Canada

By David Brannen
Are the long-term symptoms of Crohn's Disease preventing you from doing your job?

You may already be suffering from the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. If Crohn's disease is preventing you from working, you may want to learn more about gaining disability benefits that you are entitled to.

Whether you have already started to apply for long-term disability benefits or are considering beginning the process, you probably already know that winning disability benefits is a real challenge and definitely a process to prepare diligently for. Although Crohn’s disease is a visible illness, you will nevertheless need to prepare well to win the benefits you deserve. If you do win, removing the financial burden from your shoulders will be worth it.

As a former occupational therapist and current disability benefits lawyer, I can help you avoid the extra pain of bureaucratic nightmares in preparing you for the application process for long-term disability benefits. If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease in Canada, I can help you take the first steps towards securing the support that you are entitled to.

This article will highlight reminders during your diagnosis and treatment, types of disability benefits you might qualify for, specific challenges in preparing your claim for Crohn’s disease, and final thoughts on approaching the overall process and how to face denial of your claims. This article is part of our series examining medical conditions and disability benefits

Documenting Your Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease

Your Crohn's disease has inflamed your digestive tract’s lining leading to some or all of the following: abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Inflammation varies from person to person. You may already be in serious pain, but the condition can worsen when the disease spreads to the affected bowel tissue’s deeper layers. On top of the pain and debilitation, Crohn’s disease can bring on life-threatening complications.

Without a known cure, Crohn's disease can be very tricky to manage. Heredity and a malfunctioning immune system are likely contributing causes, so warding off the disease to begin with is rare. Once developed, treatment can be difficult. While therapies can reduce symptoms and bring on long-term remission, there are no guarantees. Even though treatments allow many people with Crohn's disease to function well, for you the disease may be debilitating and preventing you from working. In this case, gaining a firm diagnosis is the beginning of the process towards securing long-term disability benefits.

You may already know you have Crohn’s disease, but scanning the following symptoms will ensure you approach the diagnosis or documentation process as thoroughly as possible. Diarrhea and intensified intestinal cramping can also lead to loose stools. Inflammation or infection often yields low-grade fever and fatigue. Abdominal pain and cramping can stem from inflammation and ulceration: nausea and vomiting may result. Blood, either bright red or darker mixed with the stool, is another symptom. Mouth sores, reduced appetite, and perianal disease, also signify Crohn’s disease. Additional symptoms include inflammation of skin, eyes, joints, liver, or bile ducts. Delayed growth or sexual development in children is also a symptom.

medical consultation.jpgYou should go to your doctor when major lasting changes occur in your bowel habits. These include abdominal pain, blood in your stool, ongoing diarrhea that is unaffected by over-the-counter drugs, or unexplained fever or weight loss.

A successful doctor’s diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease is no guarantee your disability claims will also be successful, but it is a great start. Be gradual and diligent in gaining your diagnosis. The clinical signs of Crohn’s disease must be well documented in your medical records as you approach the claims process.

It can be very difficult to secure a diagnosis, get acknowledgment from your employer, or understanding from family and friends. But once you are properly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, you’ve taken a critical step toward winning your disability benefits. The next step is preparing a successful disability insurance claim. You’ve spent a long time fighting chronic pain and meeting with perhaps multiple doctors to gain the diagnosis—now it’s time to get the financial help you deserve.

You could be up against insurance companies willing to confuse your illness to avoid paying the benefits you paid for. Before I share details about insurance claims specifically related to Crohn’s disease, you should be aware of which disability benefits you qualify for in general.

Determining Which Long-Term Disability Benefits You Qualify For

As a worker, you might be eligible for one of two types of disability benefits in Canada. These are the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits and the long-term disability insurance benefits.

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits for Crohn’s disease:

The CPP, designed to support you after retirement, also covers disability benefits that start once you become disabled and last until you are 65. After that, these disability benefits are converted into regular pensions. In order to be eligible for the CPP disability benefits, you have to have worked for four out of the past six years and paid payroll taxes. The CPP requires you to prove that your disability is both prolonged and severe, leaving you unable to work.

Long-term disability insurance benefits for Crohn’s:

Group disability insurance policies are the most common type of disability insurances in Canada. If your employer has insured you as part of a group, you are receiving your disability insurance through your job. These group disability insurance policies provide both long-term and short-term disability benefits. If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease, you can apply for the long-term disability benefits if eligible. If successful, these will provide you with monthly income payments during long absences from work to ease the financial pressure weighing you down.

Preparing to Apply for Long-Term Disability Benefits for Crohn’s Disease

There are specific challenges in preparing your long-term disability benefits claim for Crohn’s disease.

I’ve already described the steps you should take to gain a firm diagnosis for Crohn’s disease. Remember, the CPP disability administration will not approve your CPP disability benefits just because a doctor diagnosed you with the condition.

Checklist.jpgIf only it were that easy. To win CPP disability benefits for Crohn’s disease, the true challenge is to prove that your symptoms render you unable to function in any workplace while taking into account your age and work experience.

You will have to present a very well-organized application that includes well-documented medical evidence. In addition to comments and descriptions made above, here are the main points to consider for Crohn’s disease.

  • It is very common for insurance companies to lack understanding of this condition. Detailed documentation is necessary.
  • Insurance companies often view Crohn’s disease as a minor condition, when in fact Crohn’s disease can be totally disabling. Gathering the symptoms and the debilitating nature of those symptoms is critical.
  • Document the frequency and unpredictable nature of your condition with your doctor during the preparation process. Both these factors help the insurance companies understand why you are unable to work adequately as a result of your Crohn’s disease.
  • Even if you have functioned adequately in a work setting in previous years, your preparation and documentation must include and describe why you can no longer cope with the pain. For instance, the advance of the disease deeper into the affected bowel may more recently have left you debilitated.

Denied Disability Benefits for Crohn’s disease? What You Should Do Next

You’ve filled out the forms and you’ve compiled as much evidence as you could—and yet, the letter you get politely denies you the right to disability benefits, effectively forcing you back to work.

This is a tough time, and I know that – I’ve seen it over and over again with my clients. You don’t know what you’ve done wrong, and a rejection can feel like an unjustified slap in the face.

Barrier.jpgBeing told your condition doesn’t warrant financial support to give you some space to breathe and focus on your recovery adds humiliation and frustration to the chronic pain. Having to force yourself back to work can have devastating consequences for your physical and mental health.

The good news is that you don’t have to simply accept that your rightful claims have been denied. You can appeal the insurance company's decision instead. I have accumulated years of experience with disability benefits claims, including cases of Crohn’s disease. It’s unfortunate that insurance companies don’t understand Crohn’s disease very well. But we can help them understand. I know what you are going through, and I’m confident that I can help you. You have a choice. You do not have to let insurance companies get away with denying you the support you are entitled to by law.

Still Feeling Unsure About Your Disability Claim? Sometimes a quick call with us can answer your concerns and help you move forward with confidence. Call us now at 888-732-0470 for a free consultation or click here to request a free consultation.

Tags: Disabling Medical Conditions

David Brannen
Founder & Managing Lawyer, Resolute Legal
As Resolute Legal's managing lawyer, David spends his days representing people with disability claims and overseeing other disability lawyers within the firm. David is a former occupational therapist and is one of the few lawyers in Canada who focus exclusively on disability-related claims. David is the author of A Beginner's Guide to Disability Insurance Claims in Canada and The Beginner's Guide to CPP Disability.