Going on disability leave is stressful especially as your pay cheque is smaller and bills will keep coming.
There are practical things you can do to effectively cope during this challenging time including keep busy, stay positive and make “getting back to work” a full-time project. To help you cope create action plans for your finances including investigating government programs and a plan for your recovery.
Financial action plan
Employer and private disability insurance plans are limited. If you anticipate a long or uncertain recovery, it will be essential for you to take control of your finances by making daily decisions about how you spend your money including:
- Eliminating unnecessary spending such as eating out, getting takeout or buying new clothes
- Reducing credit card or other high-interest debts as much as possible
- Finding ways to fix things that may be broken around your house, or get help with any fixes, instead of replacing things
- Using your emergency funds, if you have extra money saved
If you don’t have disability insurance or if it runs out before you go back to work, and if you’ve contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, you may have access to additional federal and provincial programs. This means you could qualify for:
- Monthly disability payments
- Additional benefits for kids and caregivers
- A range of tax benefits and refunds for medical expenses
Check with your local government offices and apply immediately.
Recovery action plan
It’s in your best interest and your employer’s for you to return to work as quickly as possible in your best state of health. If your employer has an Employee Assistance Program, take advantage of any physical and mental health counselling and programs to help speed up your recovery and help you deal with the emotional stressors.
If you return to your job with a disability that requires your employer to make changes to your workspace, book a meeting with your boss to discuss your needs. Employers are required to adapt the workplace to accommodate your disability and many employers have an ergonomics professional available to help you.
During your leave of absence you may want to:
- Stay in touch with colleagues (this will make the transition back to work easier)
- Take online training to enhance your value as an employee
- Read up on your disability and how others cope
- Follow any prescribed exercises or therapies to facilitate your recovery
Finding ways to cope with finances and your recovery can alleviate much of the stress during a challenging time and the more you manage the more you will feel in control and be able to return to work faster.