Sick--but must keep your job

    Lesley Alderman, NYT, June 20, 2009, says hard times can be bad times for people with chronic illnesses, Yet these are the people least able to weather a job and insurance loss.

    So now what?

    Most of the policies on the chronically ill in the workplace are company rules and practice. Companies may provide short- and long-term disability payments, for example.

    Of the 22 richest nations, only the US does not guarantee paid time off for illness or treatments, such as cancer therapies.

    The Family and Medical Leave Act allows 12 weeks off—no pay.

    Advice? Inform your employer of your situation. Be honest. Don’t be ashamed.

    Ask for adjustments—if your illness meets the terms of a disability, the company has to make reasonable accommodations. Even if you take meds for it, it may still be a legal disability.

    You have to be reasonable—asking for a car and driver probably does not meet this.

    Read the office procedures manual. You can take family leave all at once or a little at a time.

    See if you can work part-time if the job is too much for you.

    If you are worried about losing your insurance or not being able to get by, check with the organization governing your disability.

    As for govt disability, it’s hard to get, often requiring a lawyer to beat back the bureaucrats. They get paid when the payments start. After you have been in this for two years, you automatically get Medicare. Two years can be a long time., though.

    My advice: take it one day at a time. But remember Auntie Star’s motto: You can ask anybody anything.

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