Knowing that a close family member has been diagnosed with a terminal illness is never easy, especially when you are their primary caregiver.
Aside from the heightened emotions that come with knowing that this person is at the final stage of their life, there are many practical things to consider, such as ensuring his or her comfort and managing pain symptoms, updating family and friends, and carrying out final wishes.
The Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) entitles eligible Canadian caregivers up to 26 weeks of paid leave from work in order to take care of a terminally-ill family member.
Many caregivers may want to take time off from work in order to provide continuous care for their gravely ill family member, but worry that the lost income and leave of absence will affect their livelihood and their status at work.
While financial and employment matters are legitimate concerns that can cause further stress on caregivers and their families, there’s a caregiver benefits system in place that can help you face this challenge head-on.
The last thing you need at this point on your caregiving journey is to worry about losing your source of income.
Compassionate care benefits program
Effective January 3, 2016, Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) have been enhanced to allow eligible Canadian caregivers up to 26 weeks of paid leave (up from six weeks) from work in order to take care of a terminally-ill family member, which is described by the Service Canada website as a relative in your immediate or extended marital or common-law family.
Service Canada’s definition of a family member is broad enough to include your in-laws, step-family members, and, in extreme cases, a close friend or neighbour.
How CCB works
Because Compassionate Care Benefits are administered by Employment Insurance (EI), you need to be able to show on your online CCB form application that you are experiencing more than 40% decrease in your regular weekly earnings because of your caregiving duties, and that you have worked in excess of 600 hours in the last 52 weeks (or since the start of a previous claim).
In order to prove that your family member is terminally ill, he or she must fill out and sign the Authorization to Release a Medical Certificate form.
In addition, your family member’s medical doctor must complete and sign the Medical Certificate for Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits form, signifying that the person you’re taking care of is at significant risk of death within 26 weeks. These forms are used to calculate and finalize your CCB claim.
These are just some of the important pieces of information you’ll need to complete the Compassionate Care Benefits application form.
Applying for CCB can take up to an hour on the Service Canada website or kiosk at the Service Canada Centre, but gathering the supporting documents you need may take longer, so it’s important to plan ahead.
Don’t delay in filing your CCB claim – do it as soon as you stop working so you don’t lose any CCB benefits while your application is being processed.
Thanks to the Compassionate Care Benefits program, caregivers won’t have to choose between taking care of a gravely-ill family member and earning a living.
Even if you don’t anticipate needing this benefit in your caregiving, it’s good to know that there are options for you if you’re ever faced with this difficult situation.
Visit Service Canada to learn more about the Compassionate Care Benefits program plus how to file a CCB application, and how to calculate your benefits.