Should I keep working or quit my job if I have a Chronic Illness or Disability?
I am suffering from a chronic illness, should I quit my job or keep trying to work?
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
Most employers allow employees to take time off for short illnesses like the flu, but policies concerning long absences due to chronic medical conditions can be sketchy.
In the U.S., employers are not required by law to pay employees for absences due to sickness.
A serious illness or medical condition that causes an employee to miss work or impacts their job performance causes both emotional and financial stress. Though the employee wants to continue working at their current position, they may wonder if they should file for disability or quit before they are fired. Both the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act offer some protections for American workers and there are other steps a person with a chronic illness or sudden disability should consider before quitting.
Inform your employer.
The first thing you should do is tell your employer about your illness and let them know it may impact your work performance. Having this discussion at the outset will eliminate any assumptions your employer has about your condition, and in most cases where an employee is valued, your employer will work with you. If the treatment you receive seems unfair, contact your human resources department.
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Ask for the accommodations you need.
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” The Americans with Disabilities Act requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations for employees who have a disability, providing the accommodation is not prohibitively expensive or difficult to implement.
Even if you are not considered disabled, your employer may be willing to make adjustments in your work environment or schedule such as:
- Making existing facilities accessible
- Modifying a work schedule
- Job restructuring
- Parking and transportation modifications
- Providing new equipment
It’s best to submit your request in writing, but if your workplace is small, that may not be necessary.
Make sure you understand your company’s policies concerning sick leave and time off.
You may be able to use sick leave or personal time for surgery, chemotherapy or other treatments. Consider taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks unpaid time off from work for medical reasons or to care for a family member. To be eligible, you must be employed at least 12 months and at least 1240 hours over the previous 12 months prior to taking leave. Also, your employer must employ at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the work site.
Check your company’s short-term and/or long-term disability insurance.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 private industry employers paid full cost for 85% of workers for short-term disability coverage and 94% of workers with long-term disability coverage. Short-term disability payments begin within two weeks of an injury’s onset and may pay up to 100% of an individual’s salary. Benefits typically last between three and six months (and in some cases up to two years), after which a person may file a long-term disability claim if they are still disabled.
Long-term disability pays a portion of your salary for illnesses and disabilities that last six months or longer.
Under most LTD policies, payments continue as long as the disability lasts or until retirement. You should file your claim for long-term disability benefits as soon as possible or when short-term disability payments max out as the waiting period before payments begin ranges from three to six months. If you are able to return to work before that time, you can cancel your claim. Note that after 24 months, the definition of total disability in most LTD policies changes to whether an individual is unable to perform the duties of any occupation they are suited for and the benefits may terminate.
If you are unable to work at all because of your medical condition, you can apply for Social Security Disability Income.
Most long-term disability insurance will require you to file for SSDI as part of their policy terms. The process is long, but if you are approved, benefits will provide much needed financial assistance.
Managing a chronic illness or disability involves making important decisions with the help of family, friends and medical providers.
Do not hesitate to consult a qualified disability attorney about disability benefits and your options.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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