Many times, an accident or injury can lead to mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD. Mental health damage is factored in with physical damage when lawyers consider pain and suffering awards, as long as it can be proven with evidence like psychiatric care bills, prescriptions, and demonstrable impacts on your life such as the inability to work or attend school.
Yet the ways that you’ll need support may extend far beyond your personal injury settlement, and you may require funds to live on while your lawyer is working out a settlement on your behalf. Disability benefits can provide some relief while you are waiting, but only if you are in a position to qualify for them.
While depression is rarely the only injury clients in a serious or catastrophic accident face, it’s worth considering whether it is worthwhile to claim it while attempting to secure benefits.
Is depression considered a disability?
Yes. Canadian law recognizes depression as a disability, and all benefits providers recognize it as such.
It takes more than a diagnosis of depression to claim benefits. You need to prove that your depression, and any other injuries that you’re suffering from, actively make it impossible to work.
Note that you do have the right to work while a personal injury case is in progress. It’s not a worker’s compensation claim, which works differently. If you can’t, that’s the kind of life impact that would factor into a pain and suffering claim, but if you can it’s often beneficial to do so.
If you can’t, you should have medical records, a psychiatrist’s assessment, and doctor’s orders of some kind to back you up.
If the depression itself doesn’t keep you from working the other, more physical injuries might offer you a stronger claim. However, depression can be used as a supporting, comorbid condition to help explain the scope of your difficulties to those who might be reviewing your requests for aid.
How will depression impact your pain and suffering claim in Canada?
A diagnosis of depression can factor into the amount of pain and suffering compensation you receive if you can draw a direct line from your accident to the depression.
If you’ve suffered from chronic depression throughout your life you are less likely to be able to factor depression into your personal injury case. It is probably true that the accident exacerbated your depression, but clear causation is necessary to make an impact on a case.
Mental illness is an “invisible” illness so it can be harder to prove and work in. Yet it could also mean a significant difference in the money you receive if your lawyer is successful at making this claim.
Is depression disability assistance available? Can you get it after a personal injury case?
Disability assistance is known as Section B. These benefits are usually payable up to $50,000 for two years. If the accident has resulted in you becoming completely disabled from work then the insurer pays 80% of your wage up to a maximum of $400 per week. These benefits are paid by your own insurance company.
If you have a private insurance policy that provides long-term disability insurance you can also make a claim under this policy if your medical condition or injury meets the definition of a disability as outlined by your insurance plan. Thus some people will be able to take advantage of these benefits after a car accident, and some won’t be able to.
You may also be eligible for AISH based on your depression and other injuries. AISH is Alberta’s Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program. You are eligible if you have a medical condition that substantially limits your ability to earn a living, the condition is likely to remain permanent, there’s no treatment likely to help improve your ability to earn a living, you’re at least 18 years of age and aren’t eligible for Old Age Security, and you’re not in a correctional facility or mental health facility.
Note that it can be hard to get AISH for depression alone, as there are numerous treatments that could improve your ability to seek employment. However, if your other, more physical injuries meet the AISH criteria you may be able to get the assistance that will give you breathing room to recover from your depression, as well.
You do need to meet financial criteria to apply for AISH. This should not create problems for your personal injury settlement. While you will need to work with your caseworker to ensure that your settlement is handled correctly, you usually get 365 days to invest it into an exempt asset. You can have up to $100,000 in an exempt asset without jeopardizing your AISH benefits.
The use of your personal injury settlement to pay off debts such as medical debts will not impact your AISH benefits, but using it like income could. Be sure to work closely with your lawyer and your case worker to keep your AISH benefits protected, as the monthly living allowance, monthly child benefit, health benefits, and personal benefits can play a big role in keeping you self-sufficient in the long term.
Learn more about the AISH program here.
If you qualify for the Canadian Disability Program you may also get the Canadian Disability Tax Credit, which can help you cover psychotherapy, medication, and the other costs associated with your disability. This program can help you receive up to $40,000 in tax refunds.
No matter what disabilities your injuries have caused, our lawyers can help.
When someone else’s negligence harms you physically, mentally, or emotionally, our team is there to help you pick up the pieces again.
We have decades of experience with personal injury law, and are known as some of Edmonton’s toughest negotiators and savviest litigators. We’re responsive, caring, and willing to listen.
Don’t struggle through the process of making a personal injury claim alone, and don’t let insurance companies take advantage of you. Make sure all your injuries are dealt with, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Get the help you deserve by calling (780) 413-9777 to schedule a case review today.