Individuals with a brain injury may need to make critical decisions around future financial security. Within Canada, you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and/or other forms of support from different sources. Whether through federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, First Nations, Inuit, private and/or workplace benefits programs, income replacement and other treatment service options may be available to help with the cost of caring for yourself when living with a disability.
When thinking about your future and how you are going to live healthy and meet your financial obligations, it will be important to carefully research and gather as much information as you can about available financial assistance. Should you have someone like a caregiver or family member to help with research, it will go a long way to ensuring that you have considered the key factors in this situation – which is unique to you.
Here is some introductory information on some available sources of financial assistance in Canada.
- Federal disability benefits
- Provincial/territorial disability benefits, including workers’ compensation
- Additional sources of financial assistance
Employee benefits & workplace policies
Employee group benefits may be available to assist you during your recovery, and/or while on the job. This may include short-term and/or long-term disability, as well as coverage for prescription medication; para-medical services and/or psychological support. You may also have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can provide a range of support options.
In some cases, benefits may be combined with existing workplace policies, which in turn can round out your financial planning options. Remember that there may be a range of employment standards that apply to you, your partner or caregiver. Be sure to include these in your planning.
If you need to use your employee medical benefits, the first step should always be to collaborate with your employer, and if applicable your union, to clearly understand what income replacement options/benefits are available to you. Along with any independent research you will carry out, you may also need to seek further advice from the following:
- A qualified financial/tax professional
- A legal professional with expertise in labour or employment law;
- A disability expert familiar with the legal aspects of the claim process
Various services are available to assist you with this. Some locations may offer legal aid support, while others may offer consultation at no cost, which will allow you to obtain advice and information from a professional as related to your specific situation.
When carrying out your research regarding income replacement or benefits programs, be sure to record the name of the person you speak to, the date of your call or meeting, and any responses you receive to your questions. You will need this information when fitting together the various pieces, and planning for your future.
Additional steps you should prepare for include:
- Advising your contact that you have a brain injury and that you have been recovering for (specify the period of time). Communicate that you want to return to work. However at this stage, you may not be in a position to return immediately and will require some time off, or you are able to return on reduced hours. You are gathering information about any temporary income replacement/benefits options available
- Alternatively: you are not able to return to work and you are gathering information about any income replacement/ benefits options available to you on a permanent basis
- Being prepared to respond to any questions being asked of you in an open manner. These may include, but are not limited to:
- If you are currently receiving any salary from your employer;
- If you are receiving disability benefits from another source;
- Whether you have any outstanding disability applications;
- When your brain injury occurred;
- How long you have been off work;
- What your return to work schedule will be;
- If you are under a doctor’s care, and
- Other pertinent questions that may apply to your situation. Remember, you are entitled to privacy on specific medical details
Be sure to always ask if there are any other income replacement options and/or prescription drug benefits that may be available to you. Inquire about any financial coverage for additional treatment services that may be available, including for example: physiotherapy; a chiropractor; massage therapy; and psychological support.
Sample research questions
The following are some examples of questions you should ask yourself to help with your research into financial assistance and supports after a brain injury.
- Disability considerations
- Is the disability temporary or permanent?
- Is the disability episodic?
- Is the disability the result of a workplace accident?
- How has the disability impacted your ability to work and/or earn an income?
- Do you have a full understanding about the time needed to be off work and/or the schedule you can work with in order to successfully return to the workplace?
- Learn about your rights with respect to disability income; continuance of work; recouping lost wages; other that is specific to your situation
- Do you have a trusted family member; friend; advocate or advisor that you can discuss your income planning with and/or who can help to advise you?
- Should you consult a professional to discuss your situation and seek planning support?
- Sample Workplace Questions
- What benefits are available through your workplace?
- Do you have health benefits that will cover the cost of medication; para-medical and/or other supportive services?
- Do you have disability benefits that will replace a portion of your income?
- Do you have short term and/or long term disability benefits?
- Would you quality for Employment Insurance sickness benefits which also includes disability?
- What is the waiting period for benefits?
- Can you continue to work reduced hours and also receive disability benefits? (coordinated benefits)
- Are there workplace policies that can be combined with any disability benefits that are available to you?
- Ask your employer specifically what you need to know about disability benefits at your workplace
- Sample process questions
- What are the eligibility requirements?
- What is the application process?
- What supporting medical documents will be required?
- How long will it take to have my application assessed?
- How long will it take to receive income from the benefits that are available to me?
- Once I have applied, if my situation changes, can I make modifications?
- For example, if I obtain work in a different field, can my disability claim be reviewed and suspended, and subsequently re-instated at a later date if required?
- Other considerations
- Does your financial institution and/or creditors have provisions to defer payments when a disability occurs? If so, what are the terms and conditions of this?
- What specific financial support is available through the various government/other programs that may be available?
- Is there any negative impact with being on different benefit programs?
- What other considerations may be specific to your situation and requirements? Include these on your list of questions.