Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles - Chapter 24
Chapter 24 — Benefits for the self-employed
Table of contents
24.17.0 Combining special benefits
A qualified claimant may be paid special benefits at any time in the benefit period. To ensure consistency and stability in the payment of special benefits, entitlement is dictated by the maximum number of weeks for which special benefits may be paid as set by legislation1. These parameters are explained below.
24.17.1 Limits to the number of weeks of special benefits payable
Under the EI program, each type of special benefits has an individual maximum number of weeks payable per benefit period. Individual maximums are: for sickness benefits 15 weeks; for maternity benefits 15 weeks; for parental benefits 35 weeks and for compassionate care benefits 6 weeks. Special benefits may be paid in any combination and at any point during a benefit period provided the claimant proves entitlement for each type of benefit.
When considering their maximums, all combined special benefits total 71 weeks. With a benefit period of 52 weeks in duration, it is not possible to access all special benefits, if required, without extending a claim. Accordingly, a claim may be extended (beyond the initial benefit period of 52 weeks) in order to pay special benefits as follows1:
- for a maximum of 56 weeks, when parental, illness and compassionate care benefits are combined;
- for a maximum of 56 weeks, when maternity, parental and compassionate care benefits are combined;
- for a maximum of 65 weeks, when maternity, parental and illness benefits are combined; or
- for a maximum of 71 weeks, when maternity, parental, illness and compassionate care benefits are combined.
In order to receive an extension, the following two conditions must be met:
- at least one week of each type of combined benefits was paid; and
- less than the maximum weeks of entitlement were paid for the benefit type(s) being requested in the extension.
The type(s) of special benefits payable during an extension of this type are only the types of special benefits paid during the initial benefit period. For example, where maternity, parental and compassionate care benefits were paid during the initial benefit period (52 weeks), the claimant would be entitled to receive additional weeks of maternity, parental and compassionate care during the extension. Illness benefits were not paid during the initial benefit period and therefore are not payable during the extended period.
The implementation of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan on January 1, 2006, has introduced, among others, a principle of equivalence for the purposes of the EI program. This principle now applies to EI special benefits for the self-employed.
In that context, a regulatory provision made on January 1, 20112, provides that each week of provincial benefits paid to a self-employed person in a benefit period is considered as a week for which benefits are paid under the EI program if the claimant would have been entitled to the corresponding benefits under the EI program. Accordingly, each of these weeks is taken into account in calculating the overall maximum number of weeks of EI maternity or parental benefits payable during a benefit period and in calculating the maximum number of weeks of EI benefits payable with regard to a birth or an adoption3.
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