Saturday, October 1, 2011
Disadvantages and Advantages of being on Disability
This paper (Disability and the Duty to Accommodate in the Canadian Workplace) takes a very thorough look at the legalities of Canadian employees with disabilities and the responsibilities of employers in such circumstances with many real-life case examples. It’s quite long, but worth looking through, especially if you have specific concerns. Mental health disabilities are discussed beginning on page 54 and contains some interesting cases. (I didn’t see a publication date, but I expect it is quite a few years out of date).
This site offers a more brief description of legalities.
Advantages (you don't neccesarily have to be on disability to access these resources):
-social programs to help with returning to work which may include some financing of education
-cost of living slightly offset by bus pass ($45/yr) or driving program as well as subsidised medication costs (also talk to your psychiatrist about Plan G which covers some psychiatric drugs)
-check with your city to see if they offer a free pass to community cenres (Vancouver does. It is called the LAC - Leisure Access Card and gives you access to pools, gyms, ice rinks and sometimes discounts on classes).
-time to heal
-fewer daily stresses
-may allow for a career change
-time to get to know and discover new and interesting things about yourself and develop new skills
-develop new social circles
-time to give back to the community by volunteering
-understand and have greater empathy for people in similar situations
-programs such as free cooking classes offered by Community Mental Health Teams
-increases social isolation
-loss of purpose/incentive (I’m using the term generally here. Even if you don’t particularly like your job, having an established routine can be beneficial. It’s important to find new, healthy ways to fill your time).
-decreased income which may affect other areas of health such as nutrition and environmental living conditions if you must move somewhere with cheaper rent
-may be some stigma or gossip upon returning to work
-may be negative judgments from others regarding your disability
-stressful dealings with the government regarding the validity of your illness
-difficulty transitioning back into a working lifestyle which may cause symptoms to recur (it’s important to have support for this transition)
It is important to have a good working relationship with your psychiatrist. Without their support, and filling out pages of forms, you will not be eligible for disability benefits. And, of course, a discourse on your current health status and abilities, especially if you think it has affected your ability to work, is very important.
Remember, the application process takes time. If you are concerned about your condition and think you might require disability assistance, start talking to your doctor sooner rather than later so you don’t end up worsening your condition in a job you can’t do or in a financially stressful situation if you have to leave work before the paperwork goes through.
This site has information on eligibility and application requirements. Remember, you can (and should) appeal if your application is denied the first time around.