Representing teachers and postal workers can be tricky.
For starters, most, if not all full time teachers and postal workers are unionized.
That means their employment and benefits process will be governed by the terms of their respective collective bargaining agreements.
Each collective bargaining agreement, and each term of that agreement differs depending on the union, the employer, the employee’s position, the seniority of the employee, the length of time they have been working for the school board or Canada Post.
In some cases, the collective bargaining agreement prohibits the disabled unionized employee from hiring a personal injury lawyer to fight their long term disability case. That means that the disabled claimant must proceed with his/her union by way of grievance.
If the Union does not understand how to handle long term disability claim; then you’re out of luck. If the Union isn’t supportive of your case; then you’re out of luck. If the Union doesn’t have the resources to fight the large multi national insurance company; then you’re out of luck. If the Union just isn’t in a fighting mood….well, you get the picture.
The harsh reality for many unionized employees is that at times they are at the mercy of the Union, and what fighting they chose to do, or not do on their behalf. For an issue as important as your personal entitlement to long term disability benefits; this can be a hard concept for many people to manage.
On the bright side, some Unions are good at fighting long term disability cases. So, if you happen to fall in to that camp that you’re stuck with your Union for your long term disability case, you’d better hope that your Union not only believes in your and your LTD claim, but also knows that they’re doing. Otherwise, there is no recourse.
Most collective bargaining agreements we have seen on behalf of teachers and postal workers allow for the disabled worker to retain the personal injury lawyer of their choosing to fight on their behalf of a Long Term Disability Claim.
Some of the advantages of retaining your own lawyer and going through the litigation process include but aren’t limited to:
- Plaintiff gets to chose the lawyer/law firm of their liking
- Plaintiff empowered to have his/her day in Court before a Judge and/or Jury
- A good personal injury lawyer with the know how and skill in long term disability claims will get results
- A good personal injury lawyer with experience and expertise in long term disability claims knows the insurers and their lawyers, and has relationships with doctors and other medical experts to support your long term disability claim
- The Court process allows the Plaintiff a greater degree of flexibility with respect to the heads of damages claimed and what relief they can seek
- The Plaintiff is not at the mercy of their Union with respect to the decision making process
- A skilled personal injury lawyer won’t hesitate to invest money in to the Plaintiff’s case when it comes to sending them for medico-legal assessments or to see vocational experts in order to support the case. Unions don’t generally act in this way to spend dollars on their members cases to acquire expert reports.
When dealing with Canada Post Workers, there is also the set off of Canada Post Disability Pension Plan benefits which can work against the Member’s Long Term Disability Benefits. The private Long Term Disability Insurer (SunLife) would be entitled to a dollar for dollar set off of any amount received by the worker from the Canada Post Disability Pension Plan.
Here is an example:
Member’s LTD Benefit = $1,500/month
Canada Post Disability Pension Plan = $300/month
The total is NOT $1,800/month ($1,500 LTD + $300 CPDPP)
The total remains $1,500/month. It’s just that now the LTD insurer only has to pay $1,200/month because of the $300/month payment received by the Plaintiff from the CPDPP.
This same dollar for dollar set off occurs in most, if not every long term disability policy we see. The most common set offs we see for teachers is WSIB for teachers and CPP Disability. So, in a case where the monthly LTD Benefit is $1,750, but there is also a CPP Disability Benefit of $500; and a WSIB Benefit of $250, the injured teacher will still receive the same $1,750/month, only from different sources. $1,000 will come from the LTD insurer; $500 will come from CPP Disability; and $250 will come from WSIB for a grand total of $1,750/month.
We agree that it can all get very confusing where the are multiple sources of benefits coming at different angles. Long Term Disability insurers use these offsets in order to reduce their exposure in long term disability cases. On one hand we agree with our clients that it doesn’t seem fair that the long term disability insurer is entitled to these generous set offs.
But on the other hand, it’s also not right for the employee to be earning more money on disability than they would otherwise earn while working. If people earned more money on disability than they did while working, it would act as a disincentive society wide disincentive work or to seek out gainful employment.
Hiring a long term disability lawyer can be a hard process. Starting out the process by taking the time to read this blog post from Goldfinger Injury Lawyers is a step in the right direction. If you are faced with a Long Term Disability denial, you likely have a lot of questions which need to be answered. The next step for your LTD claim is contacting Goldfinger Injury Lawyers at 1-877-730-1777 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to have those questions answered by a lawyer. All of your questions are confidential and connecting with us is free. Our law firm services all of Ontario. If you can’t make it to us, we would be pleased to come out and meet with you at your home.