Articles for Non-Lawyers

Photo: Family with disabled child and parent walking outdoors

Family and Disability Discrimination by Patricia Santucci

Know Your Disability Insurance Rights

We often think about long term disability within the context of a disease, work related injury or motor vehicle accident. Sometimes, the illness or injury of another person, such as having to care for a sick child or parent, can cause you to become disabled. Research shows that parents caring for a child with cancer or a similar long term illness can experience profound detrimental side effects of their own. The effects can lead to a diagnosis of depression, which means that the parent now has a disabling condition preventing them from working.

If you’ve become depressed, experienced physical complications, and are unable to work as a result, then you may be legally eligible for disability benefits.

Difficulties Claiming Disability

Most people think that the typical disability claim is based on an accident or injury that prevents the disabled person from working. However, it isn’t uncommon for the parent of a sick child to require disability benefits as a result of their difficult position. Unfortunately, the insurance company often denies these types of claims because the insurer views the benefits as paying the parent to leave work to care for the child when in fact, the parent has developed a separate and disabling condition as a result (e.g. depression). These complications make claiming disability benefits very difficult.

Dealing with a Disability Case

When disability insurance is your financial lifeline, and you are under constant threat of having your disability benefits terminated, the added anxiety, stress and depression that you were trying to recover from in the first place worsens.

You’re not alone. Nearly 20,000 parents across Canada and the United States have experienced a decline in health and wellness due to the added stress and anxiety of taking care of a child with a serious long term illness. It is important to note, that the cause of a disability is not usually the determining factor in whether or not one qualifies for disability benefits. In most cases, the determining factor is whether your disability is such that you meet the definition of disability under the policy. If the insurance company denies your claim for this reason, you should seek the help of a lawyer familiar with disability case law.

If your Benefits are Terminated

Parents receiving disability benefits will often receive a letter from their insurance company explaining that their disability benefits are being terminated and their file is being “closed,” giving them the impression that there’s nothing he or she can do. The termination letter will instruct parents to follow an appeal process if they disagree with the decision. In response, parents unknowingly make the mistake of appealing the decision without the aid of a lawyer, and spend weeks or even months trying to get their disability benefits reinstated. Most of the time their efforts are in vain because the insurance company has made a calculated business-decision to terminate their benefits. Furthermore, the appeal process seldom results in the reinstatement of benefits. The process often ends with the parent receiving another letter reaffirming the denial.

Therefore, all that has happened is the parent went another few months without receiving any benefits while the time frame in which he or she can sue the insurance company has diminished.

Get Assistance with Your Case

It’s critically important to hire a lawyer who understands disability case law. If you are a parent caring for a sick child, and have received, or are receiving disability benefits, and are under threat of having them terminated, contact Santucci Personal Injury Law immediately to make sure your rights are protected.

The longer you wait, the more you put your physical and financial health at risk. At Santucci Personal Injury Law, we understand your rights and will fight for them.

About the Author Patricia Santucci

Patricia Santucci is a personal injury lawyer born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. She holds several degrees having attended King’s College at the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of Windsor and an Ontario Teaching Degree from Teacher’s College as well as her Ontario Teaching Certificate. After graduating from the University of Alberta law school she was called to the bar in 2000. You can find Patricia on and LinkedIn or directly through this website