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A doctor talks to a patient.

Drug and alcohol dependency can be debilitating. Severe addiction can make it difficult—if not impossible—to meet the obligations of your daily life, including the demands of your job.

You may qualify for long-term disability benefits if you are struggling with the serious adverse consequences of addiction. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to addiction and disability. This article will clarify your rights and options when it comes to disability benefits for addiction.

Addiction is a mental health issue

Addiction is a chronic mental illness that makes a person unable to stop using a substance such as drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol, despite harmful consequences. Like other types of chronic illnesses, addiction can be progressive, and in the worst cases, fatal. Relapse is common, especially if the person struggling with addiction doesn’t have proper treatment and support.

Addiction and disability

Mental illness and substance use disorders are leading causes of disability in Canada. Despite the prevalence of addiction, there are many stigmas associated with drug and alcohol dependence. Many employees are reluctant or refuse to disclose an addiction due to fear of judgment or negative consequences such as getting fired.

Severe addiction is recognized as a form of disability in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Human rights legislation exists in both provinces to protect employees from discrimination at work based on disability, including drug addiction and alcoholism.

It’s also well-recognized that addiction often overlaps with other physical and mental health issues. A person may develop an alcohol dependency to cope with severe depression, anxiety, or trauma. Another person may become addicted to opioids prescribed for an illness or injury. Drug addiction and alcoholism can cause or worsen other physical or mental health conditions, leaving you totally disabled.

Long-term disability coverage for addiction

The medical community views addiction as a disease in Canada. Do long-term disability insurers share that view? Can you get disability for addiction in Alberta? Can you get disability for addiction in Saskatchewan?

The answer depends on the terms of your insurance policy, whether group or private. Most policies do not specifically exclude coverage for addiction, which means you are likely able to access long-term disability insurance benefits. In all cases, it is extremely important to review the rules and exclusions set out in your insurance policy to find out if you qualify. An experienced LTD disability lawyer can thoroughly review your policy and advise you on your legal rights.

Addiction treatment plan

LTD insurance policies usually contain strict requirements regarding treatment and rehabilitation that must be met for you to qualify for benefits. In other words, you must comply with the addiction treatment plan recommended by your doctor to get—and to continue receiving—compensation from the benefits plan.

The addiction treatment plan may include detoxification, counselling, in-patient treatment/rehab, medication, and/or treatment of any co-occurring physical or psychological issues. It should also include follow-up treatment or ongoing care to prevent relapse.

Addiction disability denial

Insurance companies often deny legitimate disability claims for addiction. They are also notorious for cutting off benefit entitlement before a person is well enough to return to work. Common reasons for addiction disability denial include:

  • The insurance company refusing to consider addiction as a disability.

  • The insurance company improperly relying on policy exclusions or standards in the policy.

  • Lack of medical evidence to support your disability claim.

  • Lack of evidence to support your level of impairment/inability to function at work.

  • The insurance company’s belief that you are well enough to continue working or to return to work.

Failure to comply with the recommended addiction treatment plan.

A skilled long-term disability lawyer can challenge the denial of your claim on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery. Tight deadlines apply to LTD insurance denials so don’t delay in reaching out for advice.

H2- We’re here to help with your addiction disability claim

Ludwar Law Firm serves clients throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. Contact us today for confidential, trustworthy long-term disability claims advice personalized to your specific needs.

Our firm is also here if you are facing an addiction disability denial. Saskatoon, Medicine Hat, Brooks, Lethbridge, Airdrie, Red Deer, Regina, Swift Current, Moose Jaw, and Calgary are just a few of the areas we serve in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Our lawyers can help you navigate the process and ensure your rightful claims are paid.


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