Understanding Short and Long-Term Disability in Alberta

Despite our best efforts to prioritize health and safety, experiencing illness or injury is inevitable. When confronted with these situations, workers often encounter heightened stress as they navigate processes to obtain financial assistance.

Are you aware of the various employee benefits and disability insurance you’re eligible for? If not, you’re not alone. These processes can often be complex to understand. Gaining knowledge about the available choices now can prevent future complications.

It’s time to familiarize yourself with long-term and short-term disability in Alberta. Understanding these types of disability insurance can help you and your loved ones in the future. Even if you are healthy now, it can benefit you, your family, friends, and colleagues during difficult times.

What is disability insurance?

Disability insurance helps workers when they can’t work because of illness or injury after using up their sick leave. These benefits cater specifically to health-related challenges unrelated to work responsibilities. Workplace injuries are handled by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).

People heal from sickness or injury at different speeds. This is why there are different kinds of disability benefits available for various durations. Short-term disability benefits are for those who need assistance for a temporary period. Long-term disability benefits are for individuals who require support for an extended period.

Short-term disability benefits in Alberta

Short-term disability insurance provides income for a limited time if you are unable to work because of illness or injury. Short-term disability insurance can be a financial safety net for workers facing temporary health challenges.

These benefits generally begin after you exhaust all your allotted sick days (if your employer offers these). They continue for a defined period. Workers can generally expect to earn around 70 percent of their regular wages while on short-term disability, however this varies from plan to plan.

Keep in mind, that not all workplaces provide disability insurance. Alberta workers can receive government assistance when they take time off due to illness or injury. However, employers aren’t required to pay their full wages during these leave periods. Through your collective bargaining agreement, Teamsters 987 advocates for your rights, including provisions for these situations.

Within each Teamsters Local 987 Collective Agreement, the disability insurance policies vary. Your business agent or shop steward can clarify specific sections of your distinct collective agreement.

Long-term disability benefits in Alberta

Long-term disability helps when injuries or illnesses prevent someone from working their regular job beyond the pre-determined qualifying period. Typically, these benefits take effect after exhausting other options. These options include employer sick days, short-term disability insurance, and federal employment insurance (EI).

Each long-term disability plan varies, but most plans usually pay 60 to 70 percent of your regular income. Some plans may provide benefits for up to two years if you’re unable to return to the job you had before becoming disabled.

If you haven’t been able to work for two years, you may still receive disability benefits. The amount you receive depends on your specific plan. If you’re under 65 and can’t work due to a disability, you may qualify for benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

In Alberta, employees can get long-term disability benefits if a doctor says they are unable to complete the duties of their job anymore. Typically employees also need to have worked for the same employer for at least 90 days and meet additional criteria. Every insurance plan and provider follows different definitions for disabilities so don’t forget to check with your plan provider.

Who can help you with disability insurance?

If you can’t work, your shop steward and business agent can help you understand your rights and decide the best plan of action. Your shop steward and business agent are there to support you and guide you through the process.

They will work with you to find the best solution for your situation. If you think you may be eligible, consider asking some of the following questions:

  • How much of my wage does my agreement offer for short-term or long-term leave?
  • Does taking leave protect my job?
  • Have I been working long enough to be eligible?
  • How else can Teamsters 987 support me if I’m unable to work?


Do you still have questions about what it means to go on leave or what disability benefits you may have access to? Contact your shop steward or business agent.


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