When filing for long-term disability (LTD) benefits in British Columbia, a doctor’s assessment of your condition is required to determine how an injury or illness impacts your ability to work. This medical assessment, along with your medical records, will be used by your employer’s disability insurance provider to determine whether your qualify for benefits. The details included in your medical assessment are vital to validating your claim and determining what benefits you are eligible to receive. It is therefore important to know how to talk to your doctor about disability benefits and be medically assessed for the purposes of completing your application. Here are some ways you can prepare for a conversation with your doctor about LTD benefits.
See the Right Doctor
It is important to note that any qualified physician can perform your medical assessment. So if you are concerned an injury has left you disabled, you are free to discuss it with your current doctor. Your doctor may already recognize that your injuries are serious, limiting your ability to work and your quality of life. But most of the time, it will be up to you to initiate the conversion. Creating an open line of communication is essential as you and your lawyer work to substantiate your disability claim. Long-term, you may want to ask your doctor if it’s appropriate for you to see a specialist. LTD insurance providers sometimes prefer you are assessed and treated by a doctor who specializes in your condition.
Write Down Your Symptoms
Injury symptoms can be difficult to track from one day to the next. But during the course of care, your doctor will have questions about what you’re feeling and how you’re affected by an injury. Your report will provide the doctor with the information they need to complete the assessment necessary for your LTD application.
Keeping a journal of your injury-related experiences can be an effective way to communicate symptoms. You might use a notebook, a journal, or even a digital health app to track symptoms and take detailed notes to make it easier to talk to your doctor. Medical authorities recognize that health journaling can be a therapeutic activity, helping to make sense of how you feel.
Consider including these in a health journal:
- Physical symptoms
- Pain and fatigue levels
- Mental and emotional symptoms
- Periods of activity and rest
- Treatment protocols
- Treatment side effects
- Environmental or emotional triggers that aggravate your condition
- Personal goals, hopes, and dreams
By communicating your symptoms to your doctor, you can begin the process of completing your LTD application. It may not be initially clear whether your condition qualifies for LTD. That’s okay; your doctor will help determine the extent of your limitations and how they are linked to your inability to work.
Explain What LTD Is
Doctors are well-educated, but the world of disability insurance is complex. To help facilitate a conversation, explain what LTD is and when someone should receive benefits. Explain that LTD is an insurance benefit provided by some employers to those with a long-term injury or chronic health condition that limits their ability to earn a living. Add that you contribute a portion of your regular income in exchange for LTD benefits if you are ever to need them.
Share the key specifics of your insurance plan. Your lawyer can help indicate what portions of your plan your doctor might need to know. You or your lawyer can contact your insurance broker to provide documents and explain plan details. That way, you and your doctor can verify what conditions qualify for benefits under your LTD plan.
The doctor may need to know plan details such as whether your plan includes “any occupation” or “own occupation” benefits. These terms differentiate between benefit recipients who are unable to work any job (“any occupation”) and those who may be able to work, but not in their preferred job (“own occupation”). Your evaluation will determine whether your injuries are severe enough to reach the “own occupation” standard.
Show Short-Term Disability or EI Sickness Benefits Paperwork
It is common for disability applicants to have applied for short-term disability benefits or EI sickness benefits before applying for LTD. Short-term disability benefits also require you to submit an application to the insurance company, whereas EI sickness benefits simply require a qualified practitioner’s sign-off.
During the process of completing your LTD application, you might find a doctor that specializes in your condition, so they may not be familiar with your previous benefits applications. Make sure to transfer these documents and your medical records from any previous doctor to your disability doctor.