If you’re looking for an overview of long-term disability in BC, then you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll review how long-term disability works in BC. I’ll also compare the different programs and benefits. Finally, I’ll cover how to apply for long-term disability in BC.
Once you’ve read this article, you should know all about the benefits you can get and how to apply for them.
The following are some of the long-term disability benefits in BC:
- Long-term disability insurance in BC
- CPP Disability in BC
- Disability Assistance (PWD)
- WorkSafe BC
- Disability Tax Credit
I’ll get into more detail about all of these below.
What is long-term disability in British Columbia?
Long-term disability has a couple of meanings. Usually, it refers to an illness or injury that prevents you from working for a long time. You must be off work for 17 weeks or more to be considered “long-term.” Short-term disability, on the other hand, is usually 17 weeks or less.
Long-term disability can also refer to different disability benefits programs. In BC, long-term disability benefits get paid through individual and group insurance plans, provincial programs (PWD and WorkSafe BC) and federal programs such as (CPP disability and the Disability Tax credit. These programs all have different eligibility criteria. However, all of them require serious permanent disability that keeps you off work.
To learn more about long-term disability benefits, check out our Ultimate Guide to Long-term Disability.
Types of long-term disability in BC
There are several types of long-term disability benefits in BC. Let’s review them below:
Long-term disability insurance in BC
Long-term disability insurance is a common benefit in BC. To be eligible, you must be covered under an insurance policy. Usually, you are covered under a group insurance policy through your work. But you might have a private long-term disability policy from an insurance broker.
If you have group benefits, check to see if they include long-term disability benefits. If you are self-employed, then you may have a long-term disability policy from a broker. Check to see what benefits you have.
CPP Disability in BC
CPP disability is one of the long-term disability benefits available to people in BC and across Canada. The federal government runs this program.
To qualify for CPP disability, you must have a severe and prolonged disability. In other words, it must prevent you from doing substantially gainful work. “Substantially gainful work” means work that pays at least $17,000 per year. Also, to be eligible for CPP disability, you must have paid into the Canada Pension Plan. If you worked, you would have paid in through your payroll taxes. If you qualify, CPP disability pays a maximum of $1,414 per month (in 2021). Payments can also go until age 65.
Disability Assistance (PWD)
Disability assistance is a long-term disability benefit in BC. The provincial gouvernment administers this benefit. So, they offer financial and health support to Persons with Disabilities (PWD). To be eligible, you must be 18 years old. You must also have a severe physical or mental impairment that is expected to continue for more than two years. Your ability to perform daily living activities must be significantly restricted.
In fact, you must require assistance with daily living activities from a person, assistive device, or animal. Unlike some other benefits, there is a financial need aspect as well. In other words, you must meet income and asset thresholds.
The application process is much easier if you already recieve CPP disability.
WorkSafe BC is the workers’ compensation program in BC. This program pays disability benefits to people who sustained work-related injuries or illnesses. If you got injured at work, this benefit most likely covers you.
WorkSafe pays wage replacement benefits. They also pay reimbursements for medical treatments. The wage replacement payments can go to age 65. With permanent disabilities, there may also be a retirement payment awarded as well. WorkSafe is a great long-term disability benefit in BC.
Disability Tax Credit
Revenue Canada runs the disability tax credit program. But unlike the other programs, it does not give a monthly payment. Instead, it provides a refund on federal income taxes paid. So, to get benefits, you need to be paying taxes. Or, you have to be dependent on someone who does. In that case, however, the other person receives the benefit — not you.
If you have a child with a long-term disability, then you can qualify for the child disability benefit. With this benefit, you receive a monthly payment. However, you must be eligible for the Canada Child Benefit to qualify. In addition, your child must meet the criteria for the disability tax credit.
BC long-term disability: A comparison
The following chart compares long-term disability in BC:
|Long-term Disability Benefit||Eligibility||Amount||Duration|
|Long-term Disability Insurance||To qualify for long-term disability, you must meet all of the following:|
1. Be a “covered person” under a group or individual long-term disability insurance policy
2. Suffer from “total disability.” In other words, an illness or injury that prevents you from doing the essential or regular duties of your own occupation (or sometimes “any” occupation)
3. Your total disability lasts at least 17 weeks and is ongoing
Note: the definition of “total disability” will be different in each policy or plan. Above is a common example.
|50 to 75% of your pre-disability monthly income, or a fixed monthly payment amount (e.g. $3,000 per month)||To age 65; or for a specific number of years (2, 5, or 10 years)|
|CPP Disability||To qualify for CPP disability you must meet all of the following:|
1. You have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan in 4 of 6 years leading up to when you stopped work because of a disability
2. Your disability is “severe.” In other words, you have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from regularly doing any substantially gainful employment
3. Your disability is “prolonged.” In other words, it is permanent, of indefinite duration, or will result in death.
|The amount is based on your contributions. For example, in 2021, the maximum payment is $1,413.66 per month, and the average payment is $1,031.55||To age 65|
|WorkSafe BC (Workers’ Compensation)||To qualify for WSIB you must meet all of the following:|
1. You must work for an employer that is covered by WorkSafe
2. You must suffer a work-related injury or illness
3. Your injury or illness must prevent you from doing the usual or regular duties of your occupation
|Usually 90% of your net earnings||To age 65. |
Sometimes a retirement benefit is available.
|To qualify for Disability Assistance, you must meet the following: |
1. Financial eligibility criteria
2. Be 18 years old
3. Have a severe physical or mental impairment that is expected to continue for more than two years
4. Be significantly restricted in your ability to perform daily living activities
5. Require assistance with daily living activities from a person, assistive device or animal
|Changes depending on size of family. Minimum $1,358.42 per month for a single person.||To age 65|
|Disability Tax Credit||To qualify for the DTC you must meet one of the following:|
1. Be blind; or
2. Be markedly restricted in at least one of the basic activities of daily living; or
3. Be significantly restricted in two or more of the basic activities of daily living (can include a vision impairment); or
4. Need life-sustaining therapy
|Tax Credit of $8,576 for 2020. Increases each year.||Up to 10 years in the past, and 4-6 years into the future. You need to apply again when the “approved” years expire.|
How to apply for long-term disability in BC
In this section I give you a step-by-step process on how to apply for long-term disability in BC. For a more detailed explanation on this process, check out our article on how to apply for long-term disability in 7 steps.
Figure out what plan covers you
There are several long-term disability benefits and programs available in BC. So, it is important to determine what program covers you.
The first thing you should consider is where your injury or illness took place. For example, if you were injured at work, you should apply for WorkSafe BC. Seek legal advice if you are unsure if your injury was work-related.
If you did not suffer a workplace injury or illness, you should check to see if you have group benefits through your employer. If so, you should find out if you have long-term disability coverage under the plan.
Another possibility is you may have an individual disability insurance policy. You would have bought this directly from an insurance company. If you think this may be the case, contact your insurance broker or find a copy of your policy.
However, if none of these options apply to you, do not worry. There is a large possibility the Canada Pension Plan may cover you. Try to remember if you paid into CPP. This would include receiving a pay check with payroll deductions.
If you paid into CPP at least four of the last six years leading up to when you stopped working, you would have coverage.
Get support from your doctor
Getting long-term disability benefits is a nearly impossible task without the support of your doctor. We do not recommend applying for disability benefits without your doctor’s approval. Go in and talk to your doctor about your options.
Get the required application forms
Your next step should be to get your hands on all the application forms for your specific plan or program. Check out the government of BC’s checklist on applying for long-term disability for more information on what application forms you need.
Complete the application forms
You are responsible for completing the notice of claim form. This is a critical form, so take your time filling it out. Keep in mind, your responses should be complete and accurate. Send the notice of claim form to your benefits provider once you complete it.
You also need to get a medical report from your doctor. All benefit plans require this. We recommend booking an appointment with your doctor where you solely review this form. Your doctor will then fill out the form and give it back to you to send in yourself. Or they will send it directly to your provider.
With WorkSafe and long-term disability insurance, you need an additional form from your employer. Your employer is responsible for submitting an employer’s report. However, you do not need to provide this form to your employer. Its a standard form — so they should have copies.
Write a cover letter and submit your application
Like applying for a job, submitting a cover letter with your long-term disability application can be helpful. This letter should be short and to the point. It should explain what documents are attached and should highlight any special circumstances.
Attend an interview with your claim representative
Now that your application is submitted and complete, your insurance provider will assign a claim representative to your case. This representative is responsible for deciding whether your claim is approved or denied. Typically, the claim representative will ask to interview you over the phone, so they can clarify things and ask for additional medical records. Do not worry — this is standard protocol.
However, we recommend that you prepare for this call in advance so you can explain your circumstances accurately. Remember this person decides whether your claim is approved or denied — so take this call seriously.
Wait for the decision
Once your interview is over, you may need to send additional medical information to your claim representative — should they ask. Make sure to cooperate with them and get them everything they need. After you have submitted all the required information, the waiting game begins.
We know waiting for the decision is often the hardest part of this process. However, try to keep a positive mindset. Even if your claim gets denied, you may still have other options.
Seek out legal advice if this is the case and you are unsure what steps to take next.