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Old 08-23-2019, 06:48 AM   #1
MJK
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Hi All,

My wife has been struggling with panic attacks for awhile and lately they got really severe, so bad that the Dr. put her off work for 3 months.

She has little to no leave credits at work so I am wondering what options we have?

Is she eligible for short term disability? If so, how does she apply for it? Her HR department said they were going to send her a 'package' 2 weeks ago but they haven't sent anything yet and today I notice her pay was cut in half.

Any advice?
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:54 AM   #2
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Hi All,

My wife has been struggling with panic attacks for awhile and lately they got really severe, so bad that the Dr. put her off work for 3 months.

She has little to no leave credits at work so I am wondering what options we have?

Is she eligible for short term disability? If so, how does she apply for it? Her HR department said they were going to send her a 'package' 2 weeks ago but they haven't sent anything yet and today I notice her pay was cut in half.

Any advice?
In my experience: If it’s a decent size company (has an HR Dept.) she can likely take short term disability. Her employers aren’t even legally allowed to ask why. Just need a doctors note, to ask HR to start the process, and whoever handles the disability will follow up for more info (like Morneau Sheppell or something). The benefit provider will need details/doctors info.

Short term pay varies, but I’ve seen it at 60% wage before. Depends on the company and who they use for benefits.
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:56 AM   #3
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In my experience: If itís a decent size company (has an HR Dept.) she can likely take short term disability. Her employers arenít even legally allowed to ask why. Just need a doctors note, to ask HR to start the process, and whoever handles the disability will follow up for more info (like Morneau Sheppell or something).

Short term pay varies, but Iíve seen it at 60% wage before. Depends on the company and who they use for benefits.
It's a big company, arms length to government. Great West Life is where her insurance is with.

Is this handled by the company OR do we have to do it ourselves with insurance?
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:05 AM   #4
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It's a big company, arms length to government. Great West Life is where her insurance is with.

Is this handled by the company OR do we have to do it ourselves with insurance?
HR should be all over this, Iíd be surprised if they need too much of a push.

GWL uses Morneau Sheppell for this, who will provide you with forms for your doctor to fill out. But yeah HR should be all over this. Iím surprised they arenít.

Based on what youíre telling me she probably has access to a Employee Assistance Program, which offers free counselling options. I would take advantage of those as well.
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:07 AM   #5
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My benefits are with great west and when I had to go on short term for a few months the rate was the same as the max benefits from EI. My employer started the claim for me then I finished it off over the phone.( they do retro pay from the date you stopped work or at least that is what they did for me).
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:08 AM   #6
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Ok this is making me feel a bit better!
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:54 AM   #7
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With respect to any disability claims there are forms that need to be comleted by both HR and yourself, along with a doctor's statement.

In the meantime, you will want to ensure that your wife is going to some counselling. Short term counselling can be obtained via ab employee assistance program - while longer term stuff will need to be dealt with via any mental health benefits (psychologist/psychiatrist) that fall under your EHC plan.

Seems odd that her pay was cut in half though -is she working reduced hours? If so, any short term disability plan should pick up some of the missing pay - once the claims is approved.

There is some element of time here, so try and get the forms and get them completed & returned to the appropriate parties ASAP and make sure you keep records of things, just in case things go off the rails

Hopefully your wife can get some support to determine the cuase of this and how to deal with it so it does not become debilitiating
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:54 AM   #8
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If she isn't getting all the info she is requiring from the employer - get the rep name for the insurance company. They can outline exactly what should be included in terms of short-term disability.
This is a case where people may have to advocate for themselves and be more assertive that they are comfortable with.
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Old 08-23-2019, 09:22 AM   #9
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Typically, STD is normally ok; the insurers typically start pushing back if this flows into a LTD disability claim. I would make sure she is getting "treatment" (whatever that is in this case) because from the insurer's perspective, if there is no treatment there is no "injury"...
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Old 08-23-2019, 11:17 AM   #10
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Based on what I know listening to the stories of many women going on short term disability just prior to maternity leave (but overall big picture details should be unaffected)...

Contact your company HR to contact benefits. If nothing is being done, contact benefits directly and ask what info is required beyond the doctors note as the doctor is requiring a leave of absence for work. They then should communicate with you and company HR to get the ball rolling.

The company may ask for a copy of the note from the doctor. This is no biggie. The doctor literally sends in a note saying something along the lines of, "I Doctor deem that X should not work from X date to X date for medical reasons" which has no details of why the individual is gone. The doctor would fill in the form with the details why for benefits of course, but I do not believe the company should ever see any of the details of why short term disability was required and I don't believe they are legally entitled to know. Benefits approving the disability is all they need to know. Now if that information is volunteered to the company by yourself or your spouse... that's a different story.

Keep in mind that for some of these situations, if your spouse is on short term disability, there are some restrictions on your spouse. For instance, you may need to clear any travel plans while she is on disability with the benefits provider. I believe this is the way they try to reduce abuse of benefits claims. If a doctor's note requires a certain level of activity restriction (ie: Bed rest or limited activities away from home etc.) then adhering to that will be necessary as well. Benefits will also call you a ton of times to confirm certain things over and over (sometimes can be multiple times a week) and if you're often (vs occasionally) at a noisy location when you're supposed to be home resting or not picking up the phone, it doesn't look good and they may investigate further. If you're supposed to get certain things done (ie: Tests or counseling etc.) and that's not being done, benefits may wonder what's going on and investigate too.

Sometimes as well the company may consider that you are "not technically an employee" while on disability and will completely cut off any type of access while you are on disability (ie: key cards don't work, laptop/phone required to be returned, login/online access/email suspended etc.). This does make sense because if you're on disability like this, because you aren't supposed to be fit for work anyways and it kinda covers the company against the benefits providers wondering if there's some type of benefits abuse (ie: Company using benefits to top up your wages while you're technically full fledged working for the company). However, this might mean the method your spouse may be using to communicate with a colleague friend is cut off if personal or alternate communication methods are not acquired before then. Just something to note.
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Old 08-23-2019, 02:26 PM   #11
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Some extended health benefits will have no STD payments, and instead your option is to go on EI medical. She should have some kind of coverage though.
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Old 08-23-2019, 02:34 PM   #12
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Hope your wife can get past the panic attacks. I had a bout with them in my late 20's and it sucked.
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Old 08-23-2019, 03:23 PM   #13
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Her panic attacks are 100% work related and she has been doing much much better since being off. I honestly don't think she's going to go back and instead find different work. As the person that deals with our finances, this is giving me anxiety!

I have a clearer picture now on what options we have so thank everyone for the feedback. It is reassuring to know that those options exist.
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:03 PM   #14
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should go on beta blockers, since I have had to go on them, any situations where I used to have panic attacks at work have become way more bearable(they seem to get rid of a lot of the bad physical symptoms, especially in the chest region)(to clarify it is not because of panic attacks that I am on them it is just a decent side effect).
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:05 PM   #15
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Hope your wife can get past the panic attacks. I had a bout with them in my late 20's and it sucked.
I had a bout of them about 3 years ago, largely as a result of insomnia.
Awful stuff. Toughest year of my life.
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