Long Term Disability Frequently Asked Questions
Long Term Disability (LTD) insurance provides employees with income protection in case they are unable to work for an extended period due to illness or disability. If an employee becomes unable to work and loses their employment income as a result, as long as they meet disability criteria as evaluated by the insurer, they receive LTD benefits.
McMaster’s LTD Plan (the “Plan”) provides a benefit to eligible members of Faculty, Librarians, Unifor, The Management Group (TMG) and Others (including unranked faculty and employees of affiliate employers) who become totally disabled while covered by the Plan. The LTD Plan is 100% employee-paid; therefore, the LTD benefit payments an employee receives when on LTD are not taxed as income. McMaster University is not permitted to contribute any portion of the premium as it would render the benefits taxable, as per the Income Tax Act. Participation in the LTD Plan is mandatory and is a condition of employment for eligible employees. The threshold for entitlement to LTD benefits is based on total disability. Sun Life, as the LTD provider, reviews medical documentation and determines the level of disability and entitlement to benefits. The goal of the LTD program is to incorporate treatment programs geared toward return to work, as appropriate, and to help employees return to work as soon as possible.
Effective July 1, 2020, the LTD Plan became fully insured. Prior to July 1, 2020, the LTD Plan was refund accounted which meant that depending on the results of the program each year, a deficit could result if premiums remitted to Sun Life were not sufficient to cover the cost of the program or a surplus could result if premiums remitted to Sun Life exceeded the cost of the program. With the University’s move to a fully insured arrangement with Sun Life for the LTD Plan effective July 1, 2020 it means that any future deficits or surpluses that may result in a given year will no longer be the responsibility of the employee groups. However, the existing deficit as at June 30, 2020 that is attributable to certain employee groups needs to be paid.
As noted above, any deficits for the final year of the refund accounted approach (i.e., July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) must be paid. The deficit reflects a shortfall of premium that is owed to Sun Life and Sun Life has agreed that the deficit can be repaid over a period of 7 years, instead of their normal 3 year deficit payment period, to better manage the increases in premium required. An additional amount has been added to the renewal premium rate for the applicable employee groups to pay towards the existing deficit.
McMaster University strives to promote a work environment that is inclusive, respectful, healthy and safe. The University has a variety of programs designed to support the health, safety and wellbeing of the campus community, including an assortment of Workplace Wellness Programs at McMaster: https://hr.mcmaster.ca/employees/health_safety_well-being/. Employees of McMaster have access to the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) with Homewood Health.
Programs are also in place to enable staff and faculty to remain productive at work through workplace accommodations. Employee Health Services also works with employees, employee group representatives and leaders to lessen the duration of absences due to illness or injury. This includes management of medical leaves during the Salary Continuance entitlement period, supportive return to work initiatives, and providing workplace accommodations to assist employees with return to work.
In 2019, the mental health benefits provided through Sun Life increased to $3,000 per person per year for the employee and each of their eligible dependents (from $500 annually) for services received by psychologists, social workers and psychotherapists. Most recently, a new Mental Health Task Force has been launched to make recommendations to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff, faculty and students. Recommendations are expected this summer.
All of these programs and policies are aimed at providing support to employees and reducing the number and duration of employee absences.
Long-Term Disability coverage will end the earlier of:
- June 30th following the day you reach age 65.
- the day you retire.
- the last day of the month in which you die.
Members of the pension plan who are on LTD and are approaching the end of LTD coverage should notify Human Resources Services to submit their intent to retire to ensure a smooth transition between LTD payments and their pension payments.
Updated June 15, 2021
This webpage is not intended to have legal effect. In the event of any discrepancy or inconsistency, the official Plan text will govern.