For the first 24 months, as long as you are disabled from working in your own job. After 24 months, DI plan members will continue being paid benefits when they can provide medical proof that their disabling condition prevents them from doing a “commensurate occupation” for which they are reasonably qualified by education, training or experience.
According to the DI policy, “commensurate occupation” means a job for which the rate of pay is not less than 66 2/3% of the current salary for your regular job.
What about rehabilitation programs?
Sometimes your health situation may enable you to participate in a rehabilitation program, which means re-training or new work. Normally you must request approval in writing from Sun Life during the first 24 months that you receive benefits. If you have received DI benefits for more than 24 months, ask Sun Life’s Rehabilitation Unit for counselling and help.
Always be clear that you are ready to participate in any program that respects your medical limitations. You have options like gradual return to work (for example - half days for the first month), or doing some but not all tasks. No one wants to make you sick again. On the other hand, you may be cut off benefits if you do not cooperate.
What about rehabilitative employment?
The DI plan provides an opportunity for you to participate in rehabilitative employment. Every case is different, but the odds of going back to your old job drop after two years. Wages from any job you get through rehab are not cut from your DI payment. You can keep the extra money—unless your DI plus wages add up to more than your old job.
To get you back to a suitable job, a special payment of up to three times your net monthly DI benefit may be made for training programs, visual aids, special equipment or whatever meets your medical needs. They can even go higher, but then it needs Treasury Board approval.
The plan also allows Sun Life to motivate and encourage workers with disabilities to continue working after their rehabilitation benefits would normally run out. Rehab will help you get back to work. You should cooperate with their plans, as long as they respect your medical limitations.
See Question 12 for more information on accommodation if you plan to go back to work.
If you satisfy Sun Life's medical consultants that you meet the definition of total disability in the DI policy, you are eligible for DI benefits up to age 65. Again you will need concrete and convincing medical evidence.
Sun Life will stop paying benefits if and when your medical situation improves and you no longer fit the DI plan's definition of "total disability".