Saturday, June 29, 2019

Making Decisions When Disability Affects Employment

More Than One Way

 Perhaps you acquired a sudden disability due to an accident or illness.  Or possibly a progressive disability has gotten to the point that it is affecting your capability at work.  Or maybe it’s a combination of aging and a chronic illness.

Whatever the reason, many of us will face complex and painful decisions about our employment status.

Disability symptoms that can impact employment include:
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • cognitive changes
  • vision changes
  • anxiety or depression
  • reduced mobility
Other factors to consider are a sense of decreasing quality of life or a work-life imbalance.

Your employer or supervisor may notice that you have high absenteeism, which can be due to an increased need for medical care or for symptoms that cannot be managed in the workplace.  You may also be getting less positive performance reviews or negative feedback about your work products.

Before making any changes in your employment status talk with your doctor about symptoms that affect your work.  It is possible that a change in your symptom management plan or your prescriptions can provide all the accommodation you will need to stay in the same position.

If not, you will next want to consult a vocational rehabilitation counselor who can evaluate how your symptoms are affecting your work and suggest options for accommodation.  You will probably want to check with your doctor and the vocational rehabilitation counselor before your employer or supervisor calls you in for “the talk.”

It may be possible to stay in your current position with modifications of your job as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This US legislation required employers with over 15 employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” for qualified employees whose disability impacts their work.

If you decide to invoke the ADA and ask for workplace accommodations, you will want to be sure that the accommodations provided do in fact improve your effectiveness at work.  If not, or if your symptoms continue to change and require additional accommodations, there may come a point where you feel you must give up your job.

In making this momentous life decision, be sure to do some careful financial planning.  Evaluate your health insurance coverage.  Will you need to work part time to maintain coverage under your employer’s plan?  Do you qualify for insurance under Medicare or Medicaid?  Do you have a disability insurance policy or long-term care policy?

Create a reasonable monthly budget based on your projected income from all sources (savings, spouse’s income, disability support, etc.) and your expenses.  You’ll probably need to think about ways to cut expenses.

You will also need to consider costs in the longer term.  What about the costs of modifying your home to make it more accessible as you age or become more disabled?  Would it be wiser to move now to a smaller, more affordable, more accessible place?

You will also want to think about the social and emotional impact of leaving your career.  Because adults tend to identify with our jobs, you may suffer grief at the thought of becoming “medically retired” (AKA, unemployed).  You may feel a loss of a sense of purpose.  You may feel that your family will suffer from your lack of income.  Your self-worth may be impacted since you are no longer a “contributing member of society.”

The change from career to non-working requires both adjustments and acceptance.  You will recognize that job-related social activities and friendships fade over time.  You will miss the weekday routine.  You may feel you are becoming isolated and depressed.

However, the emotional impacts of stopping work are not all negative, it’s important to remember.  Trying to achieve work goals that become increasingly difficult to meet creates harmful stress.  Leaving your job can offer you more time to spend with friends and family, and you may have more energy to accomplish household tasks or devote to your hobbies.

As part of your adjustment to your new non-employed status, be sure to involve your family members in deciding changes in roles and responsibilities in the home.  Reach out to your friends and support network.  Create some daily structure that will keep you active.

Your vocational rehabilitation counselor is also a good source of information about volunteer positions in the community.  Volunteering keeps you involved mentally and socially if you do have to stop being a paid employee.  It can also be a source of new friendships.

Always remember, if your disability is impeding your career, your life is unbalanced.  Sometimes the best way to obtain a quality life balance is to quit the job and move on to a new phase of your life.

Leap Of Faith for Better Opportunity

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got a Comment?