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There may be a time in a person’s life when they need care or support after falling ill or being critically injured. If you have a family member or friend that needs help caring for themselves, you may decide to become a caregiver for a certain period of time.

But, doing so will require a significant time commitment, which can eat into your workday. In this case, you may need to take time off work to care for the person, which will have an impact on your finances. With no income being generated, you may need to seek some form of financial assistance to compensate you while you’re off work serving as a caregiver. 

Fortunately, there are government programs known as “compassionate care benefits” available that are designed specifically to help caregivers out financially while they’re off work helping a family member or friend in need.

What Are Compassionate Care Benefits?

Available through Employment Insurance (EI), compassionate care benefits are accessible to eligible applicants. You don’t have to be related to the person needing care, nor do you have to live with them in order to receive these benefits. However, the person must consider you to be like family.

3 Types Of Compassionate Care Benefits

You can receive benefits during the 52-week period after the date the individual is deemed to be critically sick or injured by a medical physician or nurse practitioner. The weeks of benefits can be taken all at once or in a separate time period and can be shared by eligible caregivers.

There are 3 types of compassionate care benefits 

  • Family caregiver benefit for children – Covers up to 35 weeks to care for a critically sick or injured person under the age of 18
  • Family caregiver benefit for adults – Covers up to 15 weeks to care for a critically sick or injured person aged 18 or over
  • Compassionate care benefits – Covers up to 26 weeks to care for a person of any age who needs end-of-life care

How Much Can You Get Through The Compassionate Care Benefits?

Eligible applicants can receive up to 55% of average earnings, up to $595 per week. 

Compassionate Care Benefits Payment Dates

If you are eligible for compassionate care benefits and have supplied all required documents, your first payment will be received approximately 28 days after you apply. 

There will be a one-week period in which you won’t be paid before you start receiving benefits, which is known as the ‘waiting period.’ If the benefits are being shared with another caregiver to care for the same ill or injured individual, only one caregiver will serve the waiting period. 

Payments will end when one of the following happens:

  • The person being looked after no longer requires care
  • You have been paid for the maximum time period that the benefit allows
  • You received the maximum number of weeks of benefits payable to you 
  • You’ve reached 52 weeks since the time the person was certified as requiring care or support
  • You reached the end of your claim period

Who Is Eligible For The Compassionate Care Benefits?

In order to qualify for compassionate care benefits, the following criteria will need to be met:

  • You are a family member or are considered to be like a family member to the person who requires care.
  • If you’re not a family member, the person requiring care or a legal representative must fill out an attestation form to confirm that you are considered to be like family. 
  • Your weekly earnings have decreased by over 40% for at least one week as a result of taking time away from work to care for the person.
  • You worked 600 insured hours over the 52 weeks before starting your claim, or since the start of your last claim, whichever of the two is shorter.
  • A medical practitioner has certified that the person you are caring for is critically sick or injured or requires end-of-life care.

If you’re unemployed, you must meet additional criteria:

  • You must wait 12 months from the date of your confirmed registration
  • You have earned a minimum amount of earnings throughout the calendar year prior to the year your claim is submitted.

How Do You Apply For The Compassionate Care Benefits?

There are 6 steps involved in applying for compassionate care benefits:

1. Start Gathering Supporting Documents

Certain documents will need to be provided to Service Canada. It’s important to collect these documents before you begin your online application so you have everything you need when applying. Documents required include the following:

  • Your authorization to have a medical certificate released by a health care practitioner
  • Medical certificate that confirms that the person is critically sick or injured and requires care or support from a caregiver
  • Record of Employment (ROE) that provides information about your work history and helps determine your eligibility for you to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • Attestation form if you are not related to the individual who requires care or support

2. Gather Your Personal Information

Certain pieces of personal information will be required when applying for compassionate care benefits. Be sure to have all of this information readily available when applying online. Information will include the following:

  • Names and addresses of all employers over the past 52 weeks
  • Dates you were employed with each employer
  • Why you are no longer employed with your employer(s)
  • Why you quit or were dismissed from any job over the past 52 weeks
  • Your home and mailing address, if they differ
  • Social insurance number (SIN)
  • Last name at birth of one of your parents
  • Information about the person needing care, including: their full name, date of birth, and home address
  • Your banking information, including: the name of your bank, the branch (transit) number, and your account number

3. Complete The Application Online

Once you stop working it’s important to apply for compassionate care benefits right away. Any delay in filing your claim by more than 4 weeks after you stop working can risk you losing any benefits.

The online application is very short, but if you are unable to complete the application in one sitting, you can save your information for 72 hours from the time your application starts. You can then come back at a later date within 72 hours and access your incomplete application using a temporary password.

If your application is not completed within 72 hours, it will be deleted and you’ll need to start over.  

4. Submit Your Supporting Documents

Once your online application is complete, you can submit your supporting documents to Service Canada by mail or in person at a local Service Canada Centre. 

5. Wait For A Benefit Statement And Access Code To Arrive By Mail

Service Canada will send you a benefit statement through the mail after you’ve completed your application. The statement will include a 4-digit access code that you will need along with your SIN to find out the status of your application. 

6. Review Your Application Status

You can check the progress of your application by contacting a representative from Service Canada or by logging into your My Service Canada Account (MSCA). If you are not yet registered with MSCA, you’ll need to create an account once you get your benefit statement and access code.

Compassionate Care Benefits

Can I receive compassionate care benefits if the person I’m caring for lives outside Canada?

Yes. In this case, you will have to submit an application and provide supporting documents as you would if the person requiring care lived in Canada. A medical practitioner in the country that the person lives in will need to certify the illness or injury.

How will I receive my Compassionate Care Benefits?

You can receive payment through the mail or via direct deposit.

What’s the maximum amount I can receive through the Compassionate Care Benefits? 

You can receive up to 55% of your earnings with a cap of $638 per week if you’re eligible to receive compassionate care benefits.

Final Thoughts

If you need to take off work for a certain period of time to care for someone who is sick, injured, or is in their last days, you don’t have to completely sacrifice your income. With compassionate care benefits, you can be financially compensated while serving as a caregiver. 

Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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