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Author Topic: Returning to work after disability  (Read 335 times)

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Offline Buckmark

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Returning to work after disability
« on: January 22, 2015, 10:04:01 AM »

After my lengthy ordeal with lymphoma (which isn't really over, but I have been in remission for some time now) I will be returning to work on Monday February 2nd. Am I crazy for doing so?  I'm not sure -- I've received varying opinions.  So I am starting this thread to document my experience returning to work after receiving both SSDI and private disability insurance, and also to (hopefully) benefit from the experience and advice of other forum members.  I think this is the right forum for this post, as there are many threads here about returning to work.

I will be returning to work part-time initially (30 hours per week) since I'm slowly overcoming my cancer-related fatigue.  I work in the tech industry (software development), and as a manager no less, so it is a rather fast-paced environment.  That's why I insisted my doctor release me to work only part-time, so I could get back on my feet again slowly.  My manager is fine with that, and overall has been one of my biggest supporters.  Of course, by going back to work, I am giving up both my SSDI and my private disability insurance.

Why did I decide to try going back to work?  I think I can do it, as my health has continued to improve (albeit more slowly than I would like).  I want to do it -- or do something.  I want to feel productive (not that all of my activities for recuperation haven't been productive).  This may not be the dream job I want to do the rest of my life (cancer, like HIV, has a way of changing your perspective and priorities).  But it is a job that is right here in front of me for the taking, complete with a nice salary and benefits.  And people that I really like.

I've received some good counseling (from a forum member who knows who she is  ;) ) about how this impacts SSDI.  Here is my understanding of returning to work on SSDI.  When I engage in "substantial gainful activity" (SGA, i.e., earning income above a certain level), it means I am enter a "trial work period" (TWP).  After 9 months -- assuming I make it that far -- my TWP ends and I will no longer receive SSDI benefits.  There is then a 36 month extended period of eligibility, where I could receive benefits if my SGA (earnings / income) falls below a specified level -- but if my SGA is above that level, my benefits end. 

After my SSDI benefits end there is still a 5 year expedited reinstatement period (though I am skeptical about anything related to Social Security being "expedited").  At *any* time in this process, I could be reviewed to determine if I am still medically disabled or not.  The cynic in me wonders why they don't do that to everyone who tries to return to work from SSDI.  Also, I need to promptly report my earnings to the folks at Social Security, lest I run afoul of the beast.

My private disability ends as soon as I return to work.  I do get a 90 day period where I do not have to reapply if my disability returns (though I'm sure they will want evidence).

A few people (not here on the forums) have said I am crazy for giving up my SSDI and private disability.  It is certainly a position of some security.  But I haven't been receiving SSDI long enough to receive Medicare yet.  I am really missing the daily social interaction of the work environment.  I could get that by going back to my volunteering, but I'd have to report that to my private disability company.  And that company is already contacting all of my physicians, asking them what is preventing me from returning to work (in their words, returning to my "sedentary" job   ::)  ).

I really don't know what the future holds for me (but none of us ever really do).  I'm eager to jump back in to something.  And I think that going back to work will mark another important milestone in my journey with lymphoma -- a personal triumph, of sorts.

Thoughts?  Advice?  Perspective?


"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
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     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline wolfter

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Re: Returning to work after disability
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2015, 01:10:36 PM »
Henry, I wish you absolutely the best in whatever you decide.  This is such a personal and difficult decision. 

I'm reading about the need to be productive and I totally understand that.  The first 2 times I was on disability, I only remained on it long enough to get healthy enough to return to work.  I did not enjoy not working. 

Both times, I applied and was approved almost immediately.  This last time (when I was the most AIDSY) required a 3 year ordeal.  I've always felt that people should work to their ability but the current system isn't designed to individualize that.

I would absolutely love to return to work but am terrified of what would happen in the future if my health declined again. 

take care and best wishes buddy
Complacency is the enemy.  ;)  Challenge yourself daily for maximum  return on investment.

Offline WillyWump

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Re: Returning to work after disability
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2015, 05:24:27 PM »

Henry, I dont have any experince with Lymphoma or disabilty but I think you are doing the right thing by getting back in the workforce. It seems you have plenty of safety nets with the trial periods, etc. to give it a go. I certainly understand your desire to become productive again and be amongst people, so yeah I think this is good for you.

Best wishes bud!
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Current Meds: Prezista/Epzicom/ Norvir

Online Jeff G

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Re: Returning to work after disability
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2015, 05:54:18 PM »
I think you are doing just the right thing and as Willy said, you have safety nets . I nearly lost my mind from boredom when I had to quit working … it wasn’t so bad when I was really sick but when I recovered I felt like I had no purpose anymore. I know you have a great job and that you enjoy the work so if you go back and feel its too early you can always say you tried … nothing to lose in trying . Best of luck .

Offline mitch777

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Re: Returning to work after disability
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2015, 06:41:13 PM »
I agree with the above posts Henry. Give it a try and if it doesn't work out you have some outs.

I'm just wondering if 30 hours might be a bit much at the beginning but you know your capabilities best. Would 20 hours be an option if need be?

Your private disability company sounds typical from what I've read. Pushy, pushy. Grr...

I totally understand your cynical view about the SSA and have no idea about the aspect of dealing with the "expedited" process. Hopefully someone here can address that.

I've had to adjust my perspective on what is important to me this past decade but it was slow going. You are a smart cookie and I have no doubt you will find your way as you go.

Hope everything goes your way! Best wishes.

32 years hiv+ (oct. 2013) with a curtsy.

Offline initforlife

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Re: Returning to work after disability
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2015, 07:47:57 PM »
Good luck. I too understand wanting to go back to work. I haven't worked since the end of may and that is a lot of my problem sitting at home alone with way to much time to think. it is destroying me! anyway I hope it all works out for you!
sometimes it is best to say nothing at all. then to offend

Offline Lou-ah-vull

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Re: Returning to work after disability
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2015, 12:14:49 AM »

You already know I am ALWAYS in your corner.  I especially salute the careful process you used in making the decision to return to work and to recognize that for you "the socialization of work" was very important to you.  I have admired through this entire "crisis" your ability to weigh the options, gather feedback, and empower yourself to make a decision.  You continue to be an inspiration to me, and I am sure, to others. On a forum like ours, who knows, it might be life saving or at life changing for someone else who will benefit from your witness.

I sure hope we are going to see you in Memphis this summer.  We have much reason to celebrate and anticipate.

Diagnosed Oct. 2005
10/05:  367 (26.2%), 24556 VL
01/06:  344 (24.6%), 86299 VL
04/06:  374 (22.0%), 87657 VL
05/06:  Began HAART 05/15/06, Combivir/Kaletra
07/06:  361 (27.8%), 1299 VL
10/06:  454 (32.4%), 55 VL
01/07:  499 (38.4%), UD
02/07:  Switched to Atripla 2/8/07
04/07:  566 (37.7%), UD
08/07:  761 (42.3%), UD
06/08:  659 (47.1%), UD
01/09:  613 (43.8%), UD
07/09:  616 (47.4%), UD
01/10:  530 (44.2%), UD
07/10:  636 (48.9%), UD
01/11:  627 (48.2%), UD
07/11:  840 (52.5%), UD
01/12:  920 (51.1%), UD
07/12:  857 (50.4%), 40
10/12:  UD
01/13:  710 (47.3%), UD
07/13:  886 (49.2%), UD
01/14:  985 (46.9%), UD
06/14:  823 (47.2%), UD
01/15: 1366 (45.2%), UD

Offline BT65

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Re: Returning to work after disability
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2015, 06:37:42 PM »
Henry, I knew you were going to decide to do this when we talked and you know your body better than anyone.  If you need anymore support or just to talk, don't hesitate to call me again.  I may call you in a couple weeks to see how you're doing.

M, I have some experience with expedited reinstatement.  Pm me if you want to know anything.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow


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