Annette Campbell, 52, had worked as a receptionist in a downtown Toronto high school for almost 27 years. She was known by students, parents and colleagues as a warm and friendly face in the prinicipal’s office who made everyone feel welcome.
Annette loved her job and had hoped to continue working at the high school until retirement, but unfortunately, pain caused by her rheumatoid arthritis had become progressively worse in the last couple of years and Annette found herself struggling to perform her basic job duties. Her doctors recommended that she stop working in order to prevent further aggravation of her condition.
Annette made the tough but inevitable decision to go on sick leave. She applied for long-term disability insurance provided to her through work and her claim for benefits was approved.
Annette continued to be under the regular care of her specialists to help manage her pain. She had been on long-term disability benefits for almost two years when, one day, she received upsetting news in the mail from her insurer. The letter stated that they were cutting off her disability benefits due to a change in the definition of ‘total disability’ in her policy.
Annette couldn’t believe what she was reading. How could her insurer cut off the benefits that she relied on every month to survive, especially when her medical condition was worse than when she had first stopped working?
Annette needed help understanding what this change of definition clause meant and how it affected her future. She began searching for a lawyer with expertise in long-term disability claims and found Share Lawyers through a friend’s referral.
After speaking with a law clerk over the telephone, Annette was booked in for a free consultation with a lawyer. She met with Associate Lawyer Leanne Goldstein, who helped Annette to understand her policy.
Leanne explained that the change of definition clause is common to most disability insurance policies and, while the wording of each insurance policy will be slightly different, the general definition during the “own occupation period” is being unable to perform the regular duties pertaining to your own occupation due to injury or illness and not being engaged in any gainful occupation. After the change of definition point, otherwise known as the “any occupation” period, total disability is typically defined as being unable to engage in any gainful occupation for which you may be fitted by training, education or experience.
Leanne explained that insurance companies often terminate benefits at this point, even if the claimant is still unable to work due to their disability. She assured Annette that Share Lawyers had, in the last 25 years, helped countless individuals in Ontario to win back their benefits after the change of definition point, and they could do the same for her.
Annette was intimidated by the idea of a lawsuit, but she didn’t have another option. She decided to put her faith in the Share Lawyers team.
To her surprise, the legal process was not as stressful as she anticipated, and Annette was relieved to find that the lawyers and law clerks at Share Lawyers were compassionate, efficient and professional.
Less than a year later, Annette’s case was settled at mediation. Share Lawyers was able to secure a lump sum payment for Annette that would provide her with financial security for the next 11 years until she reached the age of retirement. Annette was now able to put the stressful ordeal behind her and focus on her health.
*Names have been fictionalized to protect the privacy of our clients.