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Anyone have advice on filing for disability?

  • By sc

    Hello, I am new to this site, so I apologize for the long comment. I’m a 57 y.o. female web designer at a major medical center in Chicago. I became ill 12 years ago when I was 45 y. o. with what I thought was the flu. Total body aches. This morphed into cervical and lumbar spine pain, bilateral joint pain in hands, wrists, elbows etc.

    My current diagnoses are: I am seronegative so my RA diagnosis turned into by Psoriatic Arthritis default, Bilateral carpal and cubital tunnel (told that it is caused by my immune system, so no surgery) Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroid disease (my thyroid is mostly scar tissue) Eosinophilic Esophagitis ( I have had 4 esophageal dilations due to strictures) Raynaud’s disease (hard to control) DD cervical and DD lumbar spine disease and Osteopenia.

    I have tried an exhausting list of alternative and conventional medications and types of physical therapy over the last 12 years. I was on Enbrel for 6 weeks, and had to stop due to the horrible neurological side effects and a severe upper respitory infection. I will start Humira next week.

    My job requires long hours of keyboarding and mousing, which aggravates the inflammation in my hands, wrists and elbows and spine. I am in constant pain.

    I am to the point of applying for disability. My job provides me with health insurance (husband is on my policy as he is self employed), short term disability, and long term disability.

    I am terrified of this process and want to go about this with armed with as much knowledge as possible. Since a few of you seem to have experience with this I was hoping to get some input. Any advice is appreciated. Especially disability attorneys in the Chicago area. Thanks for reading this.

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    • By sc

      Thank you for the reply Andrew. I am looking for people’s personal experiences.

      I am really concerned that even taking extended sick leave from my job as a web designer at a large university, will impact any hope I have of continuing my career.

      Two years ago, I went to HR and started the process of filing for extended sick leave. This involves getting a doctor to advocate, filing with Hartford Insurance Company, and getting my supervisor to approve the leave.

      My supervisor was not happy and said he would only approve a reduced hour schedule on a temporary basis. Then, when my co-worker, a software engineer resigned from his position, my supervisor said that he could not approve the leave, so I dropped the entire case. HR rep said that I should register as a “disabled employee”.

      The experience left me feeling scared and vulernable. I feel like the my supervisor, and the university would rather I quit (I will be 58 in September and they could get a young healthy person to fill my position). I know that I feel better (my arthritis pain is in my hands, wrists, elbows shoulders, and neck) when I take a few days off from work, which makes me think I have RSI in addition to inflammatory arthritis, but I was told by a worker’s comp law firm, that I did not have a WC case due to my health issues. It is all very confusing.

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  • By Mariah Z. Leach Moderator

    Hi SC~

    In addition to the articles that Andrew mentioned, I just finished a couple of new articles that go over the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits. They should be posted to RheumatoidArthritis.net shortly, so stay tuned for those as well!

    Best of luck to you!
    ~Mariah~ (Site Moderator)

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  • By Andrew Lumpe, PhD Moderator

    SC, I’m in the same place as you…needing to keep working to keep insurance but not sure how long I can keep it up. It’s unfortunate your supervisor is treating you this way. The American with Disabilities Act is supposed to protect workers. What is RSI and WC?

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    • By sc

      Thanks for the advice Andrew. Sorry that you are facing the same dilemma with insurance.

      My supervisor has allowed me to work remotely, which is nice, as my commute is 1.5+ hours each way. I drive in to the office 1 day per week. The problem is that I still have to do the work. Typing and mousing is really tough on my tendons and joints.

      RSI= repetitive stress injury and wc= workers compensation.

      I am going to register with the university as a disabled employee, try to take a short leave to get some rest from computer work.

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  • By Tish

    I’m in the same boat, I’m in process of filing for disability, and omg, its such a headAche, but hoping it will pay off in the end, literally!! 😁😁 Lol good luck to u SC!! 😊😊

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  • By kary

    I am going today to get the papers from doctor to file for my short and long term disability from my doctor. I’m afraid that my job will give me a run around. Does anyone know if my boss won’t sign the leave of absence form that Hartford will still pay for my leave. They can’t just not sign because of a medical leave. What if they let me go does my pay from my short or long term disability stop? I’m confused and scared but can not continue to work at my present job.

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  • By Mariah Z. Leach Moderator

    Hi Kary~

    I can completely understand being confused and scared in your situation! It is important that you know and understand your rights in the workplace. For example, if you have been diagnosed with RA and work at a company with more than 15 employees, your employer is legally obligated to provide you with reasonable accommodations to make it easier for you to do your job. So that may be something worth considering during the time that you are in the process of filing for disability. You can also consider FMLA (or extended leave under the Family Medical Leave Act). Here are some articles that might be useful for you!

    Workplace Accommodations Under the Americans With Disabilities Act: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/workplace-accommodations-under-the-americans-with-disabilities-act/

    Rheumatoid Arthritis and Social Security Disability Benefits: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/rheumatoid-arthritis-social-security-disability-benefits/

    Best of luck! Hang in there and remember that we are here to support you.

    ~Mariah~ (Site Moderator)

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