stress pandemic

Long Term Disability In The Time Of COVID-19

We are all stressed and distracted due to Covid-19.

Isolating at home, unable to spend time with friends and family, homeschooling while working from home, or possibly not working at all.

The uncertainty of when this will end and what our new normal will look like is what makes it more difficult to process.

When we get back to a new normal, and more people return to work, the question will become: “How has this affected you, emotionally?”

I think that we are more anxious than we were before. Many of us can function, but everyone is different, and so are their reactions to this pandemic.

Anxiety levels can be out of control, particularly depending on what you were feeling before coronavirus, what you did for a living, and what how your new normal really looks today.

Reactions Or Overreactions?

You may see someone who has a reaction that seems disproportionate to their situation, or at least it might seem that way to you.

For all those who have difficulty controlling their anxiety, there will also be some who can’t work without feeling stressed, and who will be making claims to their LTD—Long Term Disability—policy that is run through their employer.

My best guess is that we’re going to see more of those claims in the next six months to a year than we ever have before.

There are always claims for stress and anxiety, as well as psychological injury, related to specific events.

This is a major catastrophic event for all of us: emotionally, financially, and so on. The longer it goes on, the more we will suffer collective PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and individuals will experience psychological trauma that may impact their ability to either return to their jobs or do their jobs if they are able to return.  


Think of it this way: Someone who has a car accident and was not depressed prior to the incident, but has pain, will probably try to live with the pain, treat it and go on.

But six months later, some of those people will become depressed.

What made them depressed? Ultimately, it’s the accident, which caused the pain, that made them depressed. Dealing with pain and trying to ‘get over’ the situation is harder for some than others.

COVID-19 is like that accident. Repercussions of this disaster will be felt over the long term. We all hear the news and it’s rarely good; it’s affecting people and their lives in ways we haven’t even begun to realize.

Some will return to work with no problem: they are functioning well now and will continue to do so. But there will be others who may have had anxiety before, a condition that has no doubt been exacerbated by this current situation, and when they return to work, it could peak and become debilitating.

This is why long-term disability benefits exist: for this exact issue.

While accident claims that require resolution over the next two years will go down, with fewer of us out and driving, LTD claims will likely go up.

What we don’t know at this time is how insurance companies will respond to these claims.

For now, pandemics, and COVID-19 in particular, have not been listed as exclusions on LTD policies, but if this virus becomes something that happens every year, insurance companies will likely exclude it.

But for now, that’s not the case for those individuals who already have policies written.

How Will Qualifications Work For LTD, After COVID-19 Restrictions Relax?

Another situation that could arise is when someone who’s laid off due to Covid submits claim.

The laid-off employee wasn’t stressed in the early stages, because they assumed it would be temporary, but four months later, their stress is through the roof and they feel they can’t work when finally asked back to work: Can they claim LTD?

First, having been laid-off isn’t an issue when it comes to qualifying for long term disability benefits.

Next, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting CERB as long as you’re still an employee.

Bottom line? If the issue happened while you were employed, you may still have a claim.

Practically speaking, it’s better to try to work first. Then, if you really can’t function, you have a stronger case. The first thing a defense lawyer will ask is ‘how do you know you can’t work if you haven’t tried?

It’s always a good idea to get ahead of that question. 

That’s not to say you can’t apply for LTD without attempting to go back to work first.

We always look for what’s likely to succeed, because even if you do everything right, you may still be denied.

I usually advise clients to try returning to work first. If you can’t after you’ve tried, then make sure you have medical support—your family doctor, a therapist—who can corroborate your case. The more medical documents you have lined up, the harder it is for the insurance company to deny the claim.

These best practices for long term disability claims existed before this virus, and they’re still true in a time of COVID-19.

The final piece of advice I can offer you if you’re thinking about making a long term disability claim due to stress from the Covid-19 pandemic is to speak to a lawyer.

This situation is changing so quickly that the info you’re reading on other websites may be out of date within days.

Your best bet is to take advantage of the free consultations that many personal injury lawyers offer to make sure you understand the current situation and the best way for you to proceed.


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