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WORKPLACE STRESS and How it Relates to Disability Claims

A significant number of depression disability claims and their relatives, listed as follows:

• Adjustment disorder with depressed mood
• Bipolar disorder
• Dementia
• Dysthymic disorder
• Mood disorder due to general condition
• Schizoaffective disorder
• Substance-induced mood disorder

involve issues arising out of situations in the workplace. Very frequently the initial adjudication of these claims may result in a denial based on the suggestion that the policy or plan does not provide benefits due to interpersonal conflict or problems that arise in the workplace; that such situations ought to be handled within the workplace by consultation with human resources or other resources that should address such difficulties. The problem with this approach is that frequently, by the time such situations lead to a claim for disability benefits, sometimes at the suggestion of the employer, it has gone beyond the possibility of salvaging the situation within the workplace and has led to a very real mental health condition for the claimant.

Workplace stress situations, in addition to ending up in the world of disability insurance claims, also may find their way to other areas of legal dispute such as the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, the Ontario Human Rights Commission or human rights complaints, and wrongful and/or constructive dismissal claims. The claimant is in search of a remedy and/or support while they try to deal with their symptoms and the multiple streams that such situations can lead to are obviously daunting to the uninitiated.