The answer is probably – and a big part of that decision depends on both the wording of your collective agreement and the overall discretionary power of your Union in terms of jurisdiction. There are a number of collective agreements in Canada which are quite clear that the appeal process is to be handled by way of labour relations – meaning you are not able to hire your own lawyer. The dispute over your disability benefits are to be resolved by way of grievance and arbitration. In this case, unions are supposed to represent their members in pursuing their long-term disability benefits – but what if a member wants to hire his or her own lawyer?
The first question to ask is – does your disability claim arise of your collective agreement and thus subject to exclusive arbitrable jurisdiction under that agreement? Luckily, there are legal tests that our Courts have set out to help determine whether or not long-term disability disputes are to be resolved by grievance and arbitration. If the collective agreement mandates that all disputes are by way of labour arbitration, then your union must properly represent you in terms of formally appealing your denied long-term disability. They must incur the time and cost in putting together a proper appeal to help convince your disability insurance company that you suffer a total disability. The problem here is that many unions do not know how to properly appeal, nor do they employ insurance appeals specialists with experience in long-term disability claims. Many unions, despite prohibitive provisions in the collective bargaining agreement, tend to extend it’s jurisdiction by allowing their members to hire their own long-term disability lawyer to litigate the denial of their disability benefits. Many unions also tend to refer their members to our disability lawyers for representation. Conversely, there are some unions who choose to instruct disability insurance companies to bring “non-suit” motions against disability lawyers to have them removed from the case – and force their members to deal with their denied long-term disability benefits through labour relations.
It is best that you contact our disability law firm to discuss your options if you are a union member who needs assistance. You can also talk to your union representative about the possibility of retaining our disability lawyers, and obtain their advice on if the union would be accepting of not having to deal with the time and expense of appealing your denied long-term disability benefits.
It benefits unions incredibly – which is why you should speak to your union about letting you hire your own disability lawyer to appeal.
While your union fights hard to ensure fair wages, benefits & better working conditions for their members, they are not medical-legal disability litigators. While unions are supposed to represent their members in all matters, the expertise required in appealing denied long-term disability benefits may come to a surprise to union representatives. Putting together a formal appeal can be quite time consuming. It can also be very expensive.
When our disability law firm litigates cases, we spend anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 a case on medical records, medical opinions and other required disbursements. Even more unfortunate is that no matter how hard your union may fight to help overturn a disability denial – if the disability insurer maintains their denial – that is the end of the road. Arbitrators have no jurisdiction over insurance companies.
This means that arbitrators cannot “order” benefits payable and find that the insurer breached the contractual terms in this policy. This means that their disabled member is now left without the ability to work, or income which could be financially disastrous to his or her family. We have seen situations where disability benefits were wrongfully denied and as a result, people have exhausted their savings and in worst case scenarios, lost their homes. The financial implications of losing one’s benefits can be catastrophic and devastating.
Remember, as a union member, there may come a time when your union representatives have done everything they could to help in the fight to overturn your long-term disability benefit denial and support your reconsideration efforts and internal appeals. Talk to them about allowing you to hire external counsel – a specialist in disability law. We would be more than happy to help.
For decades, numerous unions have referred their members to both Disability Lawyers Arthur Camporese and Matt Lalande. We understand that not being able to work because of an illness or injury can cause devastating financial strain – which causes struggle, anxiety and worry about the future. Since 1984, we have worked closely with many union representatives across Canada who have trusted us in referring their members to our long-term disability lawyers after being unsuccessful within the internal appeal or reconsideration process.
Rob Hyndman – Labour Relations and Disability Specialist
If you need assistance with the interpretation of your collective agreement and whether or not your benefits are exclusively rooted within the jurisdiction of labour arbitration, feel free to reach out and discuss your situation with us. Lalande Disability Lawyers is the only disability law firm in Canada who employs a full time labour relations specialist. Robert Hyndman, has over 20 years of complex political and labour relations experience. Mr. Hyndman is the past president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, a former 13th District Service Representative of the International Association of Fire Fighters and the past President of the Sudbury Professional Fire Fighters Association. Mr. Hyndman has extensive labour relations experience, extensive experience with collective bargaining and extensive experience with other forms of negotiations in both the private and public sectors. Our labour relations specialist will be able to assist you with the interpretation of your collective agreement, speak with your union specialist and determine whether or not the court has jurisdiction over your matter.
No matter if you are a Union Member or Union Representative, Mr. Hyndman is always happy to discuss how Disability.ca can help and discuss how we can help ease the burden of advancing a disability claim for both Unions and their members. If you are a union member or union representative and have a long-term disability question, please feel free to call disability union specialist Rob Hyndman today no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-4-DISABILITY. Alternatively, you can reach Rob by emailing confidentially through our website and your inquiry will be directed to him if you make that request.
Fill in the form below to contact us about your wrongfully denied long-term disability benefits. Our Long-Term Disability Lawyers will fight for the compensation and justice you desserve.