LONG TERM DISABILITY

LONG TERM DISABILITY

What Stewards Need to Know About LTD

Know these key details about the LTD Plan

A steward needs to know the following basic information about the LTD Plan. Please share it with your members, in particular anyone who can’t work because of illness or injury.

  1. The member must not resign from their job. If they do resign, the consequences are severe:
    • Their job is no longer held for them.
    • The employer has no further obligation to them.
    • SGEU has no further obligation to them.
    • SGEU’s LTD Plan has no further hobligation to them.
    • All benefits, including pension contributions, stop at the time of resignation.
  2. They should immediately begin the process of applying for LTD benefits. The forms needed to file a claim are available on the SGEU website or by calling any SGEU office:
    Regina 1-800-667-5221 or 522-8571, ext. 213
    Saskatoon 1-800-667-9791 or 652-1811
    Prince Albert 1-800-667-9355 or 764-5201
    The application process has changed over the years, so do not use old forms. Contact any SGEU office for an up-to-date application package.
  3. They must obtain a doctor’s letter stating that they cannot work and provide it to their employer and the LTD Plan. As well, their LTD application form specifies the medical evidence they must provide. (Sometimes medical professionals do not submit medical information in a timely manner, so the member should keep checking with their doctor to ensure it is done.)
    When the member’s completed claim form is received at the SGEU office in Regina, the
    LTD Plan’s medical adjudicator must assess all the medical evidence before the
    member’s claim can be accepted. This process takes about 6 weeks.
    In order to confirm the doctor’s opinion of the severity or likely duration of the member’s disability, the SGEU LTD Supervisory Committee may require the member to participate in an independent medical examination. In such a case, the Plan would pay all reasonable expenses.
  4. They must use all the sick credits they are entitled to.
  5. They must apply for a definite leave of absence. (Do not apply for an indefinite leave.)
  6. They must apply for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits.
  7. If the injury or illness is work-related, they must apply for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
  8. They may apply for Employment Insurance sick leave benefits.
  9. If they were injured in an automobile accident, they must apply for motor vehicle insurance benefits through the Saskatchewan Auto Fund.

Know where to find LTD Plan forms and LTD Plan Text.

Both are available at here.

Know the steward’s role when disabled members return to work.

Once a member is accepted to receive benefits, they have access to staff of the LTD Plan, including vocational rehabilitation counselors. The steward’s role is greatly diminished, unless and until the member returns to work.

Stewards need to understand that the employer and the union have a legal obligation to disabled workers (called the duty to accommodate). When a disabled employee’s doctor determines that they are able to return to work, the employer is required to bring that employee back, with any necessary modifications to tasks, equipment, or work schedule identified by the doctor, unless it causes the employer an undue hardship. And the union is required to co-operate and remove unnecessary barriers to the return to work.

Conflict can arise in the workplace if co-workers do not understand why there are changes in the workplace. For example, the disabled employee may not have to do the same duties or work as many hours or days as they did before. The steward’s role is to educate the rest of the workplace before the disabled employee’s return to minimize backlash and to address any bad behaviour or harassment that occurs after the return to work.

SGEU’s vocational rehabilitation counselors will work out the details of a disabled employee’s return to work. If you, the steward, see that the employer is violating the terms of that return-to-work agreement, have the member get in touch immediately with their voc rehab counselor or AAA. Finally, stewards can document any violations (or non-violation and help the disabled member grieve if necessary.

Be able to answer frequently asked questions, such as:

What if the member’s claim is denied or terminated?

A member’s claim can be denied if the medical evidence doesn’t support the disability or illness. Benefits can be suspended if the member doesn’t follow the proper process or doesn’t act on requests from the Plan. Or a claim can be terminated according to the rules listed in the Plan Text.

If a member’s claim is rejected, they can appeal within 30 days as outlined in Article 4 of the LTD Plan Text [link]. SGEU’s LTD Claimant Advocates will assist and can be reached at 1-800-667-5221. All reasonable costs of the appeal process are covered by the Plan. The appeal process is designed to be streamlined and accessible to members.

What happens if and when the member is able to return to work?

If and when the member’s doctor(s) determines that it is possible to return to work, even on a part-time basis, this is what happens:

a) The doctor provides a letter stating that the member can return to work and outlining any limitations on work duties or length of the work day or work week.

b) The employer reviews the letter and the work that needs to be performed in the workplace, and considers what accommodations it can make to address the medical restrictions.

c) The employer meets with the member and union representatives (including the member’s vocational rehabilitation counselors) to make an offer, which specifies the duties and any accommodations.

d) The member reviews the offer with their doctor, to make sure it meets any limitations, and with their vocational rehabilitation counselor, whose priority is to see the member returned to their previous job or a job in the same workplace.

e) Once all parties agree to a return-to-work program, the member returns to work, keeping their doctor and the employer informed of any difficulties or improvements. If the return-to-work is part-time, LTD benefits continue but are reduced accordingly.

f) A permanent return to work may require temporary or permanent changes to the workplace and/or to the duties that the member performs.

What happens if the member returns to work and becomes disabled again?

A member who returns to work after a period on LTD benefits may become eligible for benefits again if:

a) They become disabled due to a recurrence of the same disability or illness within one year of returning to work; or

b) They experience an unrelated disability or illness within one month of returning to work; and

c) They provide medical documentation to support the disability.

For other frequently asked questions, see the LTD Plan Guide at here.

Attachment

What stewards need to know about LTD

 

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