Processing and approval of your DI claim takes time. Be prepared for delays. When your DI benefits have been approved, payments start either:
- After your paid sick leave or injury-on-duty leave expires; or if these payments last less than 13 weeks;
- After 13 weeks of disability (the “elimination period”).
The 13 weeks does not need to be continuous. It may, under certain circumstances, be accumulated for the same disability over a period of one year.
An elimination period (sometimes called a waiting period) is normal in long term disability plans. Do not wait until the "elimination period" is over. Apply for DI benefits as soon as you have reason to believe your time off work will be longer than the elimination period. You may qualify for employment insurance benefits during the elimination period.
You may have enough sick leave to cover the elimination period. You may also be covered by a combination of sick leave and EI benefits. On the other hand, even after the 13 weeks, you may still be caught up in establishing your right to either DI or workers’ compensation. If you are still waiting and have no income, approach Social Services (normally administered by your municipality) to tide you over.
If the disability is work-related and you find yourself in a situation of financial hardship, you can approach your HR, who will bring the matter to Sun Life's attention.
When Sun Life is approached by an HR office concerned about an employee's situation of financial hardship, they can arrange benefits. You may have to apply for these emergency benefits because appealing a Workers’ Compensation decision is often a slow process. Don’t wait. Call your union representative if you need help.
You will be are required to sign a statement agreeing that you will continue to pursue your Workers’ Compensation claim up to and including the final level of appeal. Following any payment the Workers' Compensation Board will first reimburse Sun Life for the benefits paid to you.
It is always prudent to save for rainy days when all is going well, and thereby reduce the shock of potential financial hardship when things are not going well. Easy to say, not easy to do. But when you get a contract settlement, an overtime cheque, etc. stash some away. You may also look into the possibility of deferring loan or mortgage payments if you are still without income. You are safer to discuss it first than just miss a payment.