Don’t get lost in transition: Tips for migrating from short-term to long-term disability

Tips for migrating from short-term to long-term disability

By Nainesh Kotak

If I had my way, disabled workers injured badly enough to exhaust their short-term disability (STD) coverage would move swiftly and smoothly onto long-term disability (LTD), leaving them free to concentrate on their recovery.

Sadly, after almost 30 years in legal practice advocating on behalf of injured workers, I’ve learned that insurers don’t like to make things easy for claimants. In most cases, the transition from STD to LTD is not automatic, meaning injured workers must submit new applications and fresh supporting documents, risking a gap in their income stream — or worse, an outright denial or termination of benefits.

If your STD benefits have been terminated or you’re getting ready to transition to LTD, our lawyers are prepared to help you through the process. In the meantime, here is my list of the top four issues you need to be aware of to help you gear up for the switch.

1. New policy, new rules

While the terms of each STD policy will differ, in general, this type of insurance covers temporary absences from work lasting anywhere between 15 weeks and one year, at which point an injured employee who is still unable to work will need to switch to LTD. Whatever the period of coverage, STD benefits are typically paid weekly, while LTD benefits are usually once a month.

Depending on the agreements an employer has in place, claimants may find that their LTD claim is handled by a different insurer than their STD claim. Even when they have dealt with an insurer for their STD claim, their employer is often paying these benefits since many businesses contract with insurers to handle STD claims on an administrative-services-only basis.

2. Continuity in transition

Despite the potential differences in how benefits are paid, who pays them and on what schedule, claimants shouldn’t be making any big changes to their behaviour during the switch from STD to LTD.
Those who wish to avoid slipping between the cracks of the transition will continue consulting with their family physician and any other medical professionals they are advised to see.

Sticking with the treatment plans recommended by their doctors will aid a claimant’s recovery and symptom management and demonstrate their commitment to getting better to the insurer.

3. Denial danger

Insurers are always looking for a chance to deny or terminate a claim for benefits, and the transition point from STD to LTD is one of the most popular.

We often see a termination of benefits towards the end of the STD period, which also tends to signal an insurer’s intention to deny any future claim for LTD benefits. If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself in this position, you should still proceed with an LTD application to ensure that you have a request logged in their system and to minimize the chance of missing any deadlines.

4. Legal help

Even when it ends well, transitioning from STD to LTD benefits can be an extremely frustrating experience. However, it can quickly become devastating if your claim is denied or terminated, which is why I urge claimants to contact an experienced STD and LTD lawyer to help them through the process.

At Kotak Law, we have helped countless people through the transition from STD to LTD, including with the restoration of benefits after a denial. The time to fight your disability insurance company is limited, so don’t delay calling for legal help if you require it.


We understand that being denied short-term disability or long-term disability benefits can be devastating. Your time to fight your disability insurance company is limited. Please do not delay in calling a short- and long-term disability claim lawyer at Kotak Personal Injury Law. We have successfully sued numerous disability insurance companies, including Manulife, Sunlife, Desjardins, Cigna, Great-West Life, Equitable Life, Empire Life, London Life, Blue Cross, AIG, SSQ, RBC, Industrial Alliance, Canada Life, Fenchurch, OTIP, Teachers Life and more.

Call your trusted long-term disability lawyers at  1-888-GOKOTAK (Toll Free for all of Canada), or (416) 816-1500 (Local Number for Ontario Residents), (403) 319-0071, (587) 414-1010 (Local Numbers for Alberta Residents). Our consultation is free, and we don’t get paid until you do. We represent disabled people throughout Ontario and Alberta, including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Milton, Georgetown, Orangeville, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St.Catharines, Niagara Falls, Stoney Creek, Kitchener/Waterloo, Cambridge, London, Windsor, Markham, Pickering, Oshawa, Peterborough, Keswick, Kingston, Ottawa, Banff, Brooks, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Jasper, Lake Louise, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Saint Albert and other locations.