Disability for Catastrophic Brain InjuriesMarch 23, 2020
Is It Hard to Get Disability for Catastrophic Brain Injuries?
It is difficult to get disability no matter the situation but when you add in the pain, stress and overall attention required to live with catastrophic brain injuries it can seem almost impossible without legal representation to fight your battles for you.
With around 1.5 million Canadians living with the effects of brain injury what is used to determine catastrophic head injuries in Canada? There are several things taken into consideration and this is where having a knowledgeable and trained lawyer in your corner makes sense.
Catastrophic injury is an injury that significantly affects your quality of life for the rest of your life. People with catastrophic brain injuries and their loved ones have a lot to deal with like knowing about treatment, collecting disability, how to survive and thrive. All those details about insurance, laws, and your rights can be overwhelming. How is the injury categorized? What do you look for? What factors are involved in deciding your disability amount?
According to the Superintendent’s Report on Catastrophic Impairment the current definition of catastrophic impairment has caused uncertainty over the time resulting in disputes, inconsistent results, and inaccurate diagnoses. With so many technicalities found in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), a regulation under the Insurance Act, dealing with the legalities and burden of proof can seem impossible when already dealing with your injuries.
An acquired brain injury is damage to your brain that happens after birth and is a result of something that happened like an automobile accident, tumor, disease or substance abuse. Most of these can become catastrophic brain injuries requiring disability and assistance on a daily basis just to meet your basic physical and monetary survival means. Tragedies such as these are one of the main reasons we carry insurance.
So how do you know you qualify or if you should even seek disability? Let us just take a quick look at a few things.
Understanding Catastrophic Brain Injuries in Ontario
Types of catastrophic brain injuries:
Non-traumatic – caused by something inside the body or substance abuse
- Brain tumor
- Opioid overdose
Traumatic – caused by something outside the body like a blow, jolt or bump.
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
Changes caused by catastrophic head injuries can include:
- Changes in vision
- Chronic pain/headaches
- Challenges walking, sitting, bathing, caring for oneself
- Feeling irritable or short-tempered
- A limited emotional response
- Challenges with communication
- Memory issues
- Difficulty making decisions
- A loss of independence
- Increased impulsiveness
- Family breakdowns
How are the levels of catastrophic head injuries determined or measured? Currently, the use of the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is used and it is suggested that the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS-E) be used for more accurate results be used. Changes to the definition of catastrophic impairment have been proposed by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).
Although the definition can use some clarification, OBIA has concerns with a couple of changes. One of the changes is that the physical and psychiatric impairments are not combined for the purposes of the new definition which could cause some discrimination against people with less severe injuries. The other change that carries concern is for a brain injury survivor to be deemed catastrophic they must be accepted for admission into an inpatient neurological rehabilitation program. This proposed change could be problematic for several reasons including wait times and available beds.
With all the confusion or proposed changes floating around out there and an already full plate with personal care why stress over your rights? Why fight insurance and laws? Take care of yourself and improve your quality of life and let a trained experienced lawyer with access to this information worry about your disability benefits and rights.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is a general guideline made available for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as legal advice for the reader's specific situation nor in general. By reading our blog and website content, the reader acknowledges the above and understands there is no lawyer-client relationship created between you and Himelfarb Proszanski through this content. To get specific legal advice, we encourage you to book a free consultation with one of our lawyers to clarify the legal aspects of your situation.