Did you know Canada has an Employment Insurance program (EI) that allows you to collect benefits when ill, injured or quarantined?
Oh yes! Give your emergency fund a break and learn about this social security program you may rightfully qualify for.
Canada first created the EI program in 1940, and it has since evolved to protect workers and provide them access to cash so they can stay afloat when they are ill or quarantined.
This program offers financial assistance temporarily to working Canadians who have worked the required insurable hours within the last 52 weeks and are currently unable to work because of an illness or injury.
This article will discuss how the EI sickness benefits work, who qualifies for sickness benefits, how long you can collect the benefits, how much you are entitled to, and how to apply.
How Does The EI Sickness Benefits Work
When most Canadians suffer illness or injuries at work, the struggle is primarily financial. They are faced with paying for medications, medical travel, and home care costs.
The stress of this financial burden can affect their emotional well-being.
The Canadian Government has provided this Employment Insurance (EI) program to help ease off the financial burden of working Canadians who cannot work for medical reasons.
Medical reasons include illness, injury, quarantine, or any medical condition that might prevent you from performing your duties at work.
Since 1971, the EI sickness benefits have been received by individuals who are unable to work but would otherwise be available for work if not for their incapacity due to medical reasons.
So this benefit helps them to focus on restoring their health and returning to work while their financial burdens are being eased off.
Who Qualifies for The EI Sickness Benefits?
To be able to receive the EI sickness benefits, you must meet the following eligibility criteria.
- You are unable to work due to medical reasons;
- Quarantined due to COVID-19
- You have lost (or expected to lose) at least 40 percent of your usual pay.
- You have worked a minimum of 600 insurable hours in the year before the claim (600 hours is equivalent to 20 weeks of work at 30hours a week)
If you are self-employed, you can qualify if:
- The amount of time spent on your business reduced by more than 40% within the last week due to your medical condition;
- You must have earned at least $7,279 of self-employed earnings in 2019
However, you will wait at least 12 months after registering to make a claim.
How Much EI Sickness Benefits Can You Get and For How Long?
The EI sickness benefits have no fixed amount. However, the exact amount will be determined when your application is processed.
However, you could receive 55% of your total insurable earnings up to the maximum amount of $638 per week. However, this amount is determined by your insurable earnings before taxes in the last year.
Further, you could receive EI Sickness Benefits for up to 15 weeks. The number of weeks is determined by how long you cannot work due to medical reasons.
If you go back to work and then stop again for the same medical reasons, your benefits might be reinstalled.
How To Apply For EI Sickness Benefits?
First, you must find out if you are eligible to receive EI sickness benefits and then apply online at the Service Canada application page.
The next step in applying for EI sickness benefits is to gather information and have the following information ready.
- Your Social insurance number (SIN)
- Your mother’s maiden name
- Mailing and residential address
- Banking information, including financial institution, branch (transit) number, and account number, if you wish to use Direct Deposit for your benefit payments.
- Record of employment (ROE)
- Your work history for the past 52 weeks, including employer names, dates of work, reasons for stopping work, and dates/earnings of highest-paid weeks (if self-employed and registered in the EI Special Benefits programs, you will have to supply the dates worked and your net earnings)
- A completed medical certificate from your family doctor or oncologist stating that you cannot work and how long you will be unable to work.
Our step-by-step guide will take you through the application process and provide detailed instructions on completing the form.
What Are The Next Step After You Apply for EI Sickness Benefits
When you finish your online application, Service Canada will mail you an EI access code shortly after applying.
Receiving the access code does not mean your claim is approved. It only grants you access to information about your claim online or over the phone.
After you apply, your claim is usually processed within 28 days. If your online application is approved, your benefits will start to be calculated one week after the start of your benefit period.
Your first payment should come in within 28 days of Service Canada’s date of receiving your application, including all the required documents.
If your application was not approved, you will be notified by letter or by telephone to explain why you are not eligible to receive the EI sickness benefits.
What is The One-Week Waiting Period?
Before you can receive EI sickness benefits, there is an EI sickness benefits waiting period of one week during which you will not be paid.
The 1-week waiting period will start during the first week you should begin to receive benefits.
This waiting period is like the deductibles which you pay for other types of insurance.
How To Submit Your EI Biweekly Reports
After you apply for EI sickness benefits and your application has been approved, you must complete and submit EI online reports to Service Canada for you to be able to continue getting the benefits you are entitled to receive.
You’ll have to submit reports every two weeks for as long as you receive benefits. These reports show your ongoing eligibility.
Once you submit, you’ll get the submission date for your next report. You have three weeks from that date to complete the following report.
If you work or earn money, your report should indicate it. You risk being overpaid and repaying benefits if it is not reported to Service Canada.
You can either use the EI Internet Reporting Service or call the EI Telephone Reporting Service at 1-800-531-7555 to submit your reports.
When Do EI Sickness Benefits End
You will stop receiving your EI sickness benefits if:
- You have reached the end of your claim period
- You do not need to be away from work because of your medical condition
- You have received 15 weeks of sickness benefit payments
- You have received the maximum weeks of benefits payable to you when combining EI benefit types
FAQs on EI Sickness Benefits
Do I have to apply to receive the EI sickness benefits?
Yes. You must apply for EI sickness benefits as there are no automatic payments. Service Canada needs to determine whether you are entitled to receive them.
When should I apply for the EI sickness benefits?
You have to apply as soon as possible after you stop working, even without receiving your ROE from your employer. If you delay your application later than four weeks after your last workday, you risk losing benefits.
Can I get regular EI benefits after EI Sickness Benefits?
If you received EI regular benefits in the past 52 weeks, you may not be able to collect the sickness benefits up to the maximum number of weeks.
However, you may be eligible to start a new claim if you’ve worked enough hours since your last claim.
Do I pay income tax on EI sickness benefits?
Yes. You have to pay your tax because your EI benefits are taxable. Your federal, provincial or territorial taxes will be removed from the benefits you receive.
Does receiving my EI sickness benefit statement mean my application is approved?
No. Receiving a statement does not mean your application was approved. Shortly after you file your EI application, you will receive a statement mail. This statement provides you with your EI access code and instructions on how to complete your EI reports.
Can I leave Canada while receiving EI sickness benefits?
Yes. You can leave Canada.
However, you can only leave Canada to obtain medical treatment that is not offered or immediately available in a hospital, medical clinic, or equivalent health institution in Canada.
If you leave Canada for any of these reasons, you can continue receiving your benefits.
If you choose by yourself to go to another country to rest or recuperate, you are not entitled to benefits.