Benefits restored and locked in for former nurse

Complainant: Treating psychologist

Problem: WSIB cut benefits for former nurse with mental health problems and head injury; told her to “go out and find a job”.

Resolution: WSIB consulting psychologist agreed woman is fully disabled and not employable.

A psychologist asked for the Commission’s help on behalf of an injured worker whose benefits had been reduced and locked in without the WSIB properly taking the worker’s mental health issues into account.

The worker, a 53-year-old nurse, had not worked in years, and, according to her psychologist, was completely disabled. She had bipolar disorder with depression, which had been aggravated by conditions at work. She had also suffered a head injury. But, her case manager called her prior to locking-in her benefits, and told her to “go out and find a job”. When she didn’t find work, her benefits were cut from full to partial loss of earnings even though there was no current information in her claim file about her condition or fitness to work.

The WSIB had determined the former nurse could work full-time at minimum wage in customer service. The psychologist said the woman had problems with attention, concentration, and memory. The Pain Treatment Program previously found the worker needed extensive treatment before being able to participate in work transition services, which had been put on hold because the worker was unable to attend. There were other medical conditions and the worker was at risk for self-harm, the psychologist said.

When the Commission became involved because of the decision-making process at the WSIB, the case manager had a consulting psychologist assess psychological reports on file and new medical information from two other service providers, both of whom deemed the worker incapable of returning to work.

The consulting psychologist agreed. A WSIB director accepted that the worker was not employable and was entitled to full loss of earnings benefits. The benefits were paid retroactively and locked-in until age 65.