I've been in so much pain lately, depressed, crying a lot and just so fatigued I can hardly function. I suppose I'm having a flare-up. I saw my doctor this past Saturday and we discussed me taking some time off work to alleviate stress and give myself time to rest. I do have short-term disability available (and also, long-term disability) and she wants to put me out on it. I'm terrified of losing my job. Does anyone have experience with how this works! She also wants my employer (when I go back to work) to allow me to work from home on days that I am unable to drive.
Do our employers have to give us those accomodations? Are we protected under the ADA rules?
I have contacted an attorney to consult with to know my exact rights. My employer wrote me up yesterday for attendance. It's interesting because in 2009 I missed 15 days due to being sick (mostly brought on by my Fibro/CFS). In 2010, I missed 8 days (a significant improvement). I just don't understand the reasoning.
I told her I might need to go out on short-term disability and that my doctor also suggested that I be allowed to work from home on days the Fibro is too much for me to drive, etc. This is a national company I work for and they have about 200 employees within a 75 mile radius from my location. She said that the company will most likely answer, "No." It's interesting that she said that as I do not think it's an unreasonable request. My job can easily be done from home. The short-term disability is okay and I'm supposed to let her know by next week what I want to do with that.
Anyway, I'm hoping the attorney can steer me in the right direction.
By federal law, FMLA covers you once you have worked at that employer for a year and worked a certain number of hours. I have been under intermittent FMLA and since Dec 21st have had to out out totally. After waiting the timeframe specified I applied for short term disability which covers like 25 weeks and then you have to go on long term. I am now waiting for a decision. I have also gotten Allsup to represent me for federal disability--SSI
Make sure you have a copy of your employee hand book. Now, I doubt they have to accommodate you working from home, but they do have to let you take FMLA, short term, or long term as long as you have medical docucmentation from your doctor.
I work for a large national financial institution, and just went through this EXACT situation! Let me tell you right now, it is NOT easy, nor is it likely to be successful. I hate to say that, and I'm sure it's not the kind of news you were hoping to hear, but unfortunately, it is a sad fact.
Here's my story as summarized as possible;
So I was diagnosed w/ fibro in early 2006. I was a real estate agent, selling investment properties at the time, so most of my time was spent working from home. This was so nice for me b/c I was able to work in my pjs and take time to rest when I needed to. I was pretty successful too, and made a reasonable amount of money doing it. My pain did become increasingly more intense, but I still felt lucky to be able to manage it from home w/o taking a hit on my income.
Well, as everyone is very aware of, the economy took a large hit toward the end of 2007, and unfortunately, that meant I took a huge hit as well, especially since I worked selling the investment properties that people could no longer afford to buy, and weren't profitable anymore anyway.
I tried to keep my head up and cut back on expenses, as we were now living solely off of my husband's income, but after a few months, he got hit w/ pay cuts and benefit reductions as well, and it became increasingly difficult to survive off of what he brought in. At that point, I knew I had to get a job quick, or we would drown financially, and en up losing our house, or possibly even more than that!
I immediately began looking for jobs that would bring in enough money to help support our family, while paying for 2 children to be in full time daycare ($1100 per month!), and ended up being hired by a very large bank (who I'll leave nameless, although they don't deserve it in my opinion!) working as an online sales and customer service agent in a call center.
The money was good ($14.50/hr + sales comp & phenomenal benefits) and after being there for a few months, I was bringing in closed to $3000 a month while working only 32hrs per week (I chose to go part time to start b/c of my health problems and want to see how I did before taking on anymore hours). I worked my butt off, trying so hard to be successful in my new environment, and pushing myself to a goal of promotion to a higher "elite" sales team that got fed only the best sales calls, and made double what I was currently making, by doing pretty much the exact same thing. Eventually, an opening became available on that team, and I was the first one considered for the highly desired position. I got the job, and made $7000 my very first month! I knew it was too good to be true (I was still only working 32hrs per week) to make that kind of money selling bank accts over the phone, but the rest of the team had been riding this gravy train for over 2yrs, so I tried to stay positive and enjoy my good fortune during a time where most of the country was suffering terribly.
Meanwhile, I was still struggling w/ my fibro, but I had so much to be happy about, that I kept pushing myself to make things work b/c I was happy and was making great money! Things were really looking up, we were paying down our debt, and looking forward towards the great future we felt we had in store for us.
The entire time I had worked for this company, they had been acquiring another large bank, and changes were happening across the board, although not too much in my dpmt, until about 1 month into my new job that is... Suddenly, all sorts of difficult changes were being handed down left and right, and I knew it was only a matter of time before the higher ups realized that my team was making way more money than we should have been (we made about the same or more than most supervisors) and would decide to put a stop to it.
The tension and fears of losing jobs was mounting, so I decided to be "smart" and start interviewing for other positions within the company. Sure enough, within a matter of a couple weeks, we were told that our special little sales team was being discontinued and broken up among the all of the other standard sales and service teams (where I had been prior to this). Everyone was heartbroken over it, and many people decided to quit, or move elsewhere in the company (including myself). I got a job at a local branch about 10min from my house, and started there a few weeks later.
I thought it would be a good step for me being that it was close by, and would be a great alternative to "moving backward" (in my eyes) to the portion I had been in before (even though I liked it a lot, but just couldn't bring myself to do it b/c I wanted to always be moving in a new direction rather than back to something I'd already done before).
Anyway, this new job ended up being absolutely horrible!! My manager was a nightmare, my job was nothing like I had expected it to be, and the sales goals were impossible (even for me when I had always been in the top 5 since I had started w/ the company) and totally unreachable unless you cheated, which I was unwilling to do. My pain increases immensely, and I found myself barely able to get out of bed each morning, much less function at work all day.
This is where the story of disability finally begins. I ended up applying for intermittent fmla and being approved for up to 7 days per month (8 is the max) an although I tried so hard no to use them (no pay and hard hits on sales stats), I was getting to the point where my sales numbers were dropping so drastically even when I only took 1-2 days off, and my manager was writing me up for it! I ended up reducing my hours twice before being written up once again, and realizing that at this rate, I was going to get myself fired if I didn't do something.
I was in excruciating pain everyday, and my manager was not forgiving about it at all! In fact, she was so angry about me getting fmla when she had no say in it, that she actually took it out on me by unfairly punishing me for things that other employees did far worse, but never had any consequences for. I couldn't go on like this. I had to stop working.
My doctor recommend I go on medical leave, so I did. I filed for short term disability benefits through the company, and was immediately denied for "insufficient info" even though I had tons of medical records (including a brain scan showing multiple lesions that pointed to very possible MS which I'm still in the process of getting a diagnosis for) to back up my claim. I immediately appealed this decision w/ Liberty Mutual by providing additional medical records, as well as a long letter from myself, and one from my doctor.
After waiting the first 45 days, I was notified that they need an additional 45 day extension, which was incredibly frustrating b/c all the while, I'm struggling financially, and the premiums that were usually deducted from my paychecks for med, dental insurance and otter benefits, were mounting every month. Not to mention my credit cards were almost completely maxed out from using them to live off of while waiting for this appeal.
Finally, after almost 4mos from the time I stopped working, I received a letter stating that I was denied yet again for the same exact reason! One day later, I received a $1200 bill from the company for all of my accrued benefits premiums that must be paid within 90dys or I will be dropped!
I have one last level of appeal that I can file directly w/ the company, but they make it as difficult as possible, by requiring you to get all of your information, and records together all over again and send it to them in the mail, after which they will have up to another 90 days to come back w/ a decision.
I'm just throwing my story out there in case someone is interested in knowing what to expect w/ this process. It is not an easy one, and most likely won't end up working out, so just be prepared for that when you start it.
I think a lawyer is a great idea if you can afford it, but just remember, these insurance companies make a living by denying people, so don't expect anything from them.
Social security disability is a better option. Yes, it is difficult as well, but not as difficult as going through insurance companies, and the nice thing about SS, is that you can hire a lawyer to fight for you, and you do not have to pay them until they win! That is my next step, and I am very hopeful it will work out for me b/c I don't have any other options available at this point!
I have been off work since 111011. I was approved the FMLA but still awaiting my STD to be approved. My pcp sent in the form completed with my Chiari and Syringomyelia diagnosis and also that I am having back, neck and headpain along with numbness and tingling. My Pain clinic doctor responded that I also was under his care. I had a physical evaluation which also stated I could not work at this time do to my limitations and pain. I have yet to receive any payments for STD. They stated that they were still looking for more info as to why I can not work.
I am contacting them again today if if they do not have a resolution then I may need to contact an attorney as well.
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