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Long-Term vs. Short-Term Disability Claims


A disability claim may seem relatively straightforward – you apply for benefits, get approved if you qualify and receive a check for your period of disability. In reality, however, a lot goes into a disability claim. One key issue is determining whether you have a short-term or long-term disability. Understanding the difference can help you protect yourself during the claims process.

Where Can You Seek Disability Benefits?

Employers are not legally required to provide disability insurance in Ottawa. However, many do to make their establishments more attractive for workers. It is important to find out whether disability insurance is available when taking a new job. If your employer does not offer disability benefits, you may still qualify for coverage from the Government of Canada

There are several sources of disability coverage to supplement an individual’s income, including the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), veterans disability benefits and children’s benefits for dependents under the age of 25. You may also qualify for a disability benefits program that is unique to the Province of Ontario, such as social assistance payments through child and family programs, Guaranteed Income Supplement, or the Ontario Disability Support Program Income Support.

What is a Short-Term Disability?

No matter where you file your disability claim, you need to know which type of benefits to seek: short-term disability or long-term disability. Filing for the wrong type could lead to receiving much less than you need for the duration of your physical or mental health problem. A short-term disability typically refers to an issue that will take you out of work or interfere with your ability to earn income for a term of three to six months, maximum. Examples include:

  • Pregnancy 
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Digestive disorders
  • Post-surgical recovery
  • Back or neck problems
  • A muscle sprain or strain
  • Joint disorder
  • Temporary injury from an accident
  • Short-term sickness or disease
  • COVID-19

You should be completely recovered from your injury or illness – or able to return to work at 100 percent capacity – within no more than six months to file a short-term disability claim. If your physician estimates that your disability will last longer than six months, file for long-term disability benefits instead. This will ensure you are given financial assistance for an appropriate duration while you are unable to financially support yourself and your family.

What is a Long-Term Disability? 

A long-term disability claim is more appropriate if your doctor estimates that you will be out of work due to a physical or mental health problem for longer than six months. If your disability will foreseeably last for 8 months, 1 year, multiple years or life, you need to file a long-term disability claim for adequate benefits, not short-term. Some examples of long-term disabilities are: 

  • Cancer
  • Paralysis
  • Brain damage
  • Limb amputation
  • Lupus
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Mental health disorder

It is important to get an accurate estimation of how long your injury, illness or condition will take you out of work from your physician. If it is a long-term disability, you need to file this type of claim for the benefits that you need.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Disability: What is the Difference in Coverage?

Duration is not the only difference between short-term and long-term disabilities. The amount of compensation offered also changes. While the exact percentage depends on the program or policy that is covering the disability, these benefits generally pay between 40 to 70 percent of the individual’s lost wages. Short-term disability benefits are more likely to pay a higher amount – closer to 70 percent. Benefits for a long-term disability are more likely to fall into the lower end of the spectrum, 40 to 50 percent, but last for a longer amount of time. 

For assistance filing a benefits claim for a short-term or long-term disability in Ottawa, contact a lawyer at SG Injury Law. We can help you seek fair benefits based on your unique situation.