what medical conditions qualify for disability canada

Medical Conditions That Qualify for Disability in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

Medical conditions can significantly impact an individual’s ability to work and earn a living. In Canada, individuals unable to work due to a medical condition can access disability benefits.

Disability benefits in Canada aim to offer financial assistance and uphold the independence and well-being of individuals who cannot work due to disabilities. 

Eligibility for these benefits is determined by specific criteria, with medical documentation serving as evidence of the condition’s severity and its impact on workability. 

The application and appeals process can be intricate, requiring thorough attention to detail.

Additionally, additional support services are available for individuals with disabilities, such as vocational rehabilitation, job training, and education programs.

Key Takeaways

  • Eligibility for disability benefits in Canada requires meeting specific criteria and providing medical documentation.
  • The application and appeals process for disability benefits can be complex and require careful attention to detail.
  • Additional support services are available for individuals with disabilities, such as vocational rehabilitation, job training, and education programs.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for disability benefits in Canada, an individual must meet specific eligibility criteria. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) determines the requirements for qualifying medical conditions and must be certified by a medical practitioner.

Eligibility for disability benefits in Canada requires individuals to meet specific criteria. These include severe and prolonged impairment in one category, significant limitations in two or more categories, or receiving therapy for vital functions. Furthermore, the impairment must substantially affect the individual’s ability to carry out essential daily activities like dressing, feeding, and toileting.

The severe and prolonged mental or physical disability must be long-term, indefinite, or likely to result in death. The CRA defines “severe” as meaning that the individual has a significant restriction in performing an essential activity of daily living or in fulfilling a basic need, such as food, shelter, or clothing. “Prolonged” means that the impairment has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least 12 months.

The medical conditions that qualify for disability in Canada are numerous and constantly changing. The CRA provides a list of qualifying medical conditions, which is not exhaustive. Individuals with medical conditions not on the list may still be eligible for disability benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Common Medical Conditions

Several physical and mental health conditions commonly qualify for disability benefits in Canada. These conditions can significantly impact an individual’s ability to work and perform daily tasks. Here is a list of some of the most common medical conditions that qualify for disability benefits:

  • ALS
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s
  • IBS
  • Sleep disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • PTSD
  • COPD
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Colitis
  • Autism
  • Heart disease
  • Neck and cervical disorders
  • OCD
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Migraine
  • AIDS
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Headache and migraine
  • Knee disorders
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Vestibular disorders
  • Visual disorders
  • Agoraphobia
  • Learning disabilities
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Emphysema
  • Sleep apnea
  • Memory loss
  • Essential activity of daily living
  • Back problems
  • Joint pain
  • Scoliosis
  • Ulcer
  • Heart failure
  • Disabling conditions

Certain medical conditions can have a profound impact on both workability and daily functioning. For instance, arthritis can lead to joint pain and stiffness, posing challenges when carrying out physical tasks.

Depression and anxiety can affect an individual’s ability to concentrate and make decisions. Fibromyalgia can cause chronic pain and fatigue, making it difficult to perform physical tasks or maintain regular employment.

It is important to note that not all individuals with these conditions will qualify for disability benefits. The severity of the condition and its impact on the individual’s ability to work and perform daily tasks will be considered when determining eligibility for disability benefits.

Documenting Medical Conditions

Thorough documentation and medical evidence are crucial when filing a disability claim in Canada. The more detailed and comprehensive the documentation, the easier for the claimant to prove they have a qualifying medical condition.

To support a disability claim, the claimant must provide medical evidence that includes a medical condition diagnosis and a detailed description of how the condition affects their ability to work. Medical evidence can come in many forms, including medical records, test results, and physician statements.

The types of supporting documents required for disability claims may vary depending on the medical condition. For example, a diagnosis of a physical condition may need X-rays, MRIs, or other imaging tests. In contrast, diagnosing a mental health condition may require psychological evaluations or therapy notes.

It is essential to provide as much detail as possible about the medical condition and how it affects the claimant’s ability to work. This information can include the symptoms experienced, the frequency and duration of those symptoms, and any treatments or medications used to manage the condition.

Application and Appeals Process

Applying for disability benefits in Canada can be a complex process. However, following the correct steps ensures your application is processed quickly. Here is a step-by-step guide to applying for disability benefits:

  1. Submit your application form: It is advised to promptly complete it without waiting for your doctor or nurse practitioner’s medical report or attestation form. Submit your completed application to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) office using one of two methods: online or by mail.
  2. Submit the medical report: The medical report is a crucial part of the application process. It must be completed by your physician or nurse practitioner and submitted promptly to the CPP office. The medical report must be submitted within two weeks if your patient has a terminal illness.
  3. Wait for a decision: Upon submitting your application and medical report, you can expect to receive a letter from the CPP office confirming the receipt of your application. 
  4. The CPP office will review your application and medical report to determine whether you are eligible for disability benefits.
  5. Appeal if denied: In case your application for disability benefits is denied, there is recourse available through the appeals process. This process comprises several steps to seek a reconsideration of the decision, including a formal hearing and the possibility of appealing to the Social Security Tribunal.

It is essential to note that disability benefits are available to individuals who are disabled, totally disabled, or have a permanent physical impairment that prevents them from working regularly. Short-term disability benefits are not available under the CPP.

In case of a denied application for disability benefits, appealing the decision is an option. However, the appeals process can be lengthy and complex. 

However, following the appropriate steps can increase the likelihood of a successful appeal. Possible outcomes of an appeal include having your benefits reinstated, growing benefits, or experiencing another denial of benefits.

Additional Support Services

In addition to disability benefits, disabled individuals in Canada can access various support services to help them live independently and participate in society. These services can include vocational rehabilitation programs, assistive devices, home care services, and community resources.

Vocational rehabilitation programs are designed to help disabled individuals gain or maintain employment. These programs can provide job training, career counseling, and other services to help individuals find and keep a job that is suitable for their abilities. Some vocational rehabilitation programs may also offer financial assistance for education or training.

Assistive devices are instrumental tools or equipment designed to assist individuals with disabilities in carrying out daily tasks and engaging in various activities. These devices can include mobility aids, hearing aids, communication devices, and more. Some assistive devices may be covered by insurance or other programs, while others may require out-of-pocket expenses.

Home care services can assist with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, and preparing meals. These services can be administered in the individual’s home or care facility. Insurance or other programs may cover home care services depending on the individual’s needs and circumstances.

Community resources can include support groups, advocacy organizations, and other services that can help disabled individuals connect with others and access resources in their community. These resources can provide information, education, and support to help individuals live independently and participate in society.

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) has a range of support services for disabled individuals in Ontario. This program allows eligible individuals to access financial assistance, employment support, and other services to meet their needs.

In Alberta, the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program provides support services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. 

In New Brunswick, the Disability Support Program (DSP) provides eligible individuals with financial assistance and other services. 

In Nova Scotia, the Disability Support Program (DSP) provides eligible individuals financial assistance, employment support, and other services.

Individuals can contact local government or disability organizations to learn more about support services.

Legal Framework and Recent Updates

The Canadian government provides disability benefits to individuals who are unable to work due to a medical condition.

The eligibility criteria for these benefits are established in federal and provincial laws, providing guidelines to determine who qualifies for the support.

The Canadian federal government has recently introduced new legislation to create the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB), which would supplement existing federal and provincial-territorial supports for Canadians with disabilities.

The Canadian Disability Benefit (CDB) is an innovative initiative that provides proactive support to working-age Canadians with disabilities to lift them out of poverty. 

This benefit is designed to complement existing federal and provincial-territorial supports rather than replace them. The Canadian government remains committed to ensuring that the CDB supplements the existing supports and benefits provided by provinces and territories.

Recent updates have been implemented in Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). The federal government has published annual reports presenting statistics on MAID for the past two years. The latest report, covering 2020, revealed 7,595 cases of medically assisted death in Canada.

Furthermore, the government has introduced legislation proposing an extension to the temporary exclusion of eligibility for MAID in cases where an individual’s sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. This proposed extension is intended to continue until March 17, 2024.

Regarding the legal framework, the eligibility criteria for disability benefits vary depending on the province or territory. However, some medical conditions are recognized across Canada as qualifying for disability benefits. These include ADHD, anxiety, autism, back problems and conditions, bipolar mood disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and chronic pain.


In conclusion, many medical conditions qualify for disability benefits in Canada. The list of eligible conditions constantly changes, and new conditions are regularly added. 

The criteria for qualifying for disability benefits are strict and require a severe mental or physical impairment that is persistent or expected to persist for at least a year.

It is crucial for individuals with medical conditions that may qualify for disability benefits to seek further information and resources for navigating the disability benefits system in Canada. 

The Canada Benefit Group provides a list of disabilities eligible for the disability tax credit. The Government of Canada website offers information on disability benefits for veterans and the CPP disabled contributor’s child benefit. These resources provide essential details on available support for individuals with disabilities in Canada.

It is important to note that not all medical conditions that may cause disability are eligible for benefits. Each case is evaluated individually, and it is recommended that individuals seek professional advice and guidance when applying for disability benefits.

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