Best way to start process of return to work, on LTD/CPPD

I’m seriously thinking of going back to work. I’ve been on disability for a long time. in about 7 years I turn 65 and I’m afraid I’ll end up living in the gutter once I lose most of my income. I’d rather go back to work before then, if I can. My old job was bilingual tech support and I still get the occasional contact from headhunters.

My disability is mental health related. My condition has been stable and my meds haven’t needed to be changed in several years. I also found out that my illness was made worse by chronic iron and B12 deficiencies caused by undiagnosed digestive problems. I had surgery for that. Now I’m on daily supplements and I’m feeling a lot more energetic and clear headed. I’ve actually been considering returning to work for a couple of years but was afraid of being cut off.

I have checked the CPPD website to see what kind of vocational rehabilitation and back to work assistance they offer. I also looked at my insurance policy. Company is Industrial Alliance. They also have a back to work program with vocational rehabilitation, and if I work they top up my income to 100% of my former work income. Right now I get 80%.

I’m wondering what steps I should take to attempt a return to work without being cut off or offered some Mickey Mouse high school course. Should I talk to CPPD or the insurance company first? Does anyone have experience dealing with CPPD for back to work? I’d like to know if they offer quality return to work assistance. In the past I did a return to work with WSIB and had to fight with them to get more than an 8 week basic how-to computer course.

I also am starting to have some mobility issues which are not related to my mental health. I can’t stand on my feet for long periods, and I can’t walk long distances. Can these issues be taken into account when I’m being prepared for return to work? I don’t want to be made to do a job that my legs can’t handle.

If I approach the insurance company should I get a lawyer? I’m concerned they might suddenly decide I’m not disabled and cut me off.

Overall, given the length of time I’ve been on LTD (12 years) is it too risky to approach them about returning to work now?

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What is the chance your “employer” will rehire you?
By now, I’d think that job has been replaced.
80% seems pretty good, mine is 60%.
I’d contact CPPD first.
How long does the insurance company top up your income for?

It complicates things.
There doesn’t have to be a job for them to decide you can work somewhere.
You don’t want to be left looking for a job.
What is the job market for you like?
Will you be to do a job for a new employer with your mobility issues?
It sounds like you wouldn’t be on your feet anyways.

I don’t know much about rtw after so long.
I wish you luck though.

My employer was bought out by another company about a year before I left. They were going to get rid of a lot of people and move the company to their office in Quebec. So it’s highly unlikely they’d still be here in Toronto.

The policy doesn’t give a time limit for the top up. It just says that they will reduce my benefit if my total income including work exceeds 100% of my former wage.

I do have a fair shot at going back to my old career. I was a bilingual tech support analyst for over 20 years, both phone and in person. I worked for two banks and two major computer/software companies. My last job was supporting point of sale systems for a large retailer with over 100 stores. I’d need to update my skills but that shouldn’t be hard. To this day I get the occasional email or text from headhunters. I got a text last week. I’ve thought of updating my LinkedIn profile but I’m afraid the insurance company might find out.

The good thing is 100% of your salary from 12 years ago should be less than going rates.

I’m not sure they would help with rtw since the existing employer is out of the picture.

My gut tells me not to do it but that is me and my situation.
If you think a rtw is highly likely to work then go for it.
I’d be tempted to approach the insurance company and see if they would even authorize a rtw.
Maybe I am naive in thinking asking can’t hurt.
I am probably naive.
Worst case in asking is you’d have to get a lawyer to fight being cut off.

Since I posted I’ve been thinking about a few things:

I only have 7 years of benefits left. I’ve read that insurance companies often cut people off when there are only a few years left on their claim. This makes me think that if I approached them about going back to work they’d rather just cut me off than pay for a back to work program and/or retraining.

The fact that I’ve been off work for so long means they’d be suspicious if I suddenly told them I feel up to going back to work. For years they’ve been accepting my yearly doctor’s report which states that my condition is unchanged. They’re sure to wonder why, after 11 years, I’m suddenly well enough to work. It would be another reason for them to declare I’m not disabled and cut me off.

So I’ve decided against going back to work for now. I think the only way I could work again while on LTD would be to (quietly) start my own business.

Where did you read that?

Maybe lawyers won’t make enough money at the end of a claim.

I found out by accident. A few months ago my LTD deposit didn’t come in. In all the years I’ve been on LTD, it was never late. So I was panicking. I went online and did some research on LTD benefits being cut off. I got a bunch of hits from LTD law firms. They all had articles about getting cut off when your claim is near the end. Apparently it’s a common reason they cut people off. Lawyers often have to get involved to get the benefits reinstated.

Anyway I called the insurance company and it was just a glitch with their bank. The deposit came in the next day. But ever since then I’ve been aware that they could cut me off.

It would be very interesting to hear @David_Brannen thoughts on your original question.

I applaud anyone trying to make it back into the workforce. Here is what I would recommend in terms of steps:

  1. Have discussion wiht your doctor to see if they agree it is good for you to try to return to work. You will need your doctor to write a note saying that they agree you are ok to “try to return to work”.
  2. Start by reaching out to the CPP Vocational Rehab Program to discuss your plans and to see what resources they could provide.
  3. Once you have an idea of what resources are available through CPP Voc Rehab, and you still want to try the RTW, then contact your LTD insurer.

Don’t expect much from the LTD insurer. They won’t offer much beyond the most basic support for resume building or job search. You will likely get better resources from the CPP Voc Rehab program.

Most LTD insurers will not cut you off immediately. They will wait to see how things go. They will want updates on your progress and any income you are earning. But some insurers will work with you in good faith and also applaud you for trying. Others will not. It is like a roll of the dice.

CPP will allow you to keep getting CPP benefits while you are trying to work or even once you start working until you determine you can do a regular work schedule and the return to work is a success.

You would need to be prepared for LTD to say, here is 8 weeks of benefits to cover a transition period, and after that we are not paying anything. I have seen that happen to people in this situation. If you don’t have a job/employer to go back to, the less involved the LTD insurer will be.

I don’t think having a lawyer wil make a difference in approaching the LTD regarding a possible return to work. Better to do your homework and consult with the CPPD Voc Rehab and then approach LTD once you have some concrete plans.

If things go off the rails, and the return to work is not a success, then it will be easy to keep the CPP disability going. The LTD insurer may also just continue your benefits as well. If they LTD refuses to re-start benefits you can appeal that decision and sue them if necessary.

David Brannen

Disability Lawyer with Resolute Legal

The response posted above is based on the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with a lawyer, fully explain your situation, and allow the lawyer enough time to research the applicable law and facts required to give an adequate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full one-on-one discussion with a lawyer should be done before taking any any action. The information posted on this forum is available to the viewing public and is not intended to create a lawyer client relationship with any person. If you want one-on-one advice, please click here to request a free consultation or call toll free 1-877-917-7050 to speak with a member with our disability claim support team.

Just wanted to comment about my experience dealing with CPP vocational rehabilitation program. This is after 7 yrs on disability. At first i was able to make contact after leaving one message. Oh i should tell u that the program is ran by 2 people for 2 provinces. I was explained about the program and it sounded great. I let sometime pass and tried contacting them again to ask what i need to do to start the application process. It took me about 5months of leaving messages before i was able to make contact. This is when i was told about the limited staff available for the program. So at this point i was told that firstly i needed to show im capable of attending school or retraining. I was instructed to do 30hrs a week of volunteer work for about 6months. When i was getting close to the 6month mark i was suppose to call back so i could be sent a application package which would include some forms that i would fill out and sign, as well as forms for my doctors, my insurance company, anyone involved in my treatment plan. Id receive information about the program and whats all included. It took me 4months to get in touch with them again after i completed the volunteer work. I was told that CPP arranges contact with everyone included in my LTD claim in order to have acknowledgement and approval by everyone. Also this program would allow me to continue with my benefits throughout schooling and finding new employment after wards. This package was going to take about 3 to 6months to complete before being allowed to go to school. Well i never got the package. I waited for it to be delivered for 2 months, thinking maybe they are just really overloaded with clients. Now its been 6 months of me calling them leaving messages with no response. Im so disappointed. I was really counting on this program for me to have another chance at getting control of my life again and succeeding at my goals. I hope u have better luck with CPP than i did.