Post-COVID, also known as Long COVID, is something that is often overlooked by the public healthcare system. Many Post-COVID patients who have gotten through the acute phase of the virus but continue to experience the effects of COVID-19 are in need of financial support.
The key government benefits that would help these patients are EI sickness, CPP-D (QPP-D in Quebec), Medical Expenses Tax Credit and the Disability Tax Credit.
Provincial social assistance is currently available; however, the provincial worker’s compensation system only covers illness or injury that occurs because of infection in the workplace, which is often very difficult to prove with community transmission rates being as high as they are.
Both short-term and long-term income support is obtained through private insurance plans with coordination of government benefits. The reality is that less than half of workers will have access to this kind of crucial insurance through their employer.
The following is a brief overview of the benefits that Post-COVID patients and their families should look into for financial help.
The Employment Insurance sickness benefit is for eligible employees who need to take a temporary leave from their employment due to illness.
The EI sickness benefit can provide eligible parties with up to 15 weeks of financial assistance in situations where they cannot work for medical reasons, with those enrolled potentially receiving 55% of their weekly earnings up to a maximum of $638 per week.
Medical certification that proves you are unable to work for medical reasons is required to qualify. Medical reasons include injury, illness, quarantine or any other medical condition that prevents you from working.
The Canada Pension Plan disability benefit is for eligible workers who are experiencing a permanent reduction to their ability to work due to disability.
The CPP disability benefit is a monthly payment that individuals can receive if they meet a number of requirements including:
- Under the age of 65
- Have made sufficient contributions into the CPP
- Have a mental or physical disability that regularly stops you from doing any type of substantially gainful work
- Have a disability that is long-term and of indefinite duration, or is likely to result in death
There are two types of CPP disability benefits:
CPP Disability Benefit
- Must be under the age of 65
- Must not be receiving the CPP retirement pension
CPP Post-Retirement Disability Benefit
- Must be between the ages of 60 and 65
- Must already be receiving the CPP retirement pension for more than 15 months, or become disabled after starting to receive the retirement pension
Important Note: When you turn 65 your CPP disability benefit will automatically be changed to a CPP retirement pension.
There is also a CPP Children’s benefit.
CPP Children’s Benefit
- Must be under the age of 18, or between the ages of 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at a recognized school or university
- Must be the child of a person receiving a disability benefit
The Quebec Pension Plan offers, under specific conditions, a disability pension to individuals who have been severely and permanently disabled.
The eligibility requirements for the QPP disability pension are:
If you are under 65:
- Have a severe and permanent disability that is recognized by a team of medical professionals
- Have contributed sufficiently to the Quebec Pension Plan
If you are between 60 and 65:
- You are deemed disabled because you are unable to do regular work and have contributed to the Plan for at least 3 of the last 6 years in their contributory period
At age 65 the disability pension will automatically be replaced by a retirement pension.
Some individuals will also be eligible for an Old Age Security pension.
MEDICAL EXPENSES TAX CREDIT
The medical expenses tax credit includes a number of eligible medical expenses that you can claim on your tax return.
Some examples of eligible medical expenses that can be included in this tax credit include:
- Purchase & installation of an air filter, cleaner or purifier
- Heart monitoring devices
- Ambulance service
- Laboratory procedures or services (including COVID-19 tests)
- Rehabilitative therapy
- Assisted breathing devices (CPAP, ventilator)
Disability Tax Credit
The disability tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit that allows eligible individuals with impairments, or their supporting family members, to reduce the total amount of income tax that they must pay. This helps to offset some of the costs related to the impairment.
If the individual has a severe and prolonged impairment, they may apply for the credit. If approved, they will be able to claim the credit at tax time.
Eligibility for the disability tax credit requires certification from a medical practitioner that the individual has severe and prolonged impairment in 1 of the applicable categories or significant limitation in 2 or more categories.
- Mental functions
- Eliminating (bowel or bladder functions)
- Life-sustaining therapy