More HEU LTD members to receive supplementary monthly benefit

Union to negotiate to make the benefit a permanent improvement

The Hospital Employees' Union has achieved a significant improvement to the supplementary long-term disability benefit that means many more LTD members than first identified will receive payments. Due to pressure from HEU, the Health Employers' Association of B.C. has agreed to recalculate the cost of the supplementary benefit and will now pay out a further increase. Initially, the calculation used to determine the amount of the supplementary monthly benefit eliminated a large number of otherwise eligible recipients because they are also receiving income from other sources, such as the Canada Pension Plan disability or Workers' Compensation Board benefits. These other income sources are called "offsets" and are currently deducted from LTD payments, both the basic monthly amount and the supplementary benefit amount. Because the offsets are normally indexed (that is, cost of living increases are applied), the method of calculation of the supplementary benefit has resulted in a number of LTD members receiving a small payment or nothing at all. The new method of calculation will be using 25 per cent of the increase of the offset since the date of disability, instead of the 100 per cent originally used. Because of this, many more LTD members will receive a further increase in the supplementary benefit amount, especially those with high offsets. The increase will be retroactive to the date of first entitlement to an LTD benefit. However, LTD members who have no offsets will not receive this further amount. HEU is pressing the employer to get the money to LTD members before Christmas. And the union will be entering into negotiations—under the "reopener" clause of the facilities collective agreement—to make the supplementary benefit a permanent improvement for LTD members. As it stands, the current supplementary benefit is time-limited and will be paid until July, 2001. As in bargaining 1998 —when HEU LTD members played a critical role in the gains made to the long-term disability plan—members'support has helped bring about this important change, too.