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If You're Still Working and Become Disabled

“I woke up one morning and I was disabled!” This isn’t how it usually happens. While you have some cases where someone may have had a serious stroke or been in an accident, for most people their disability creeps up on them over the course of years. They try to work for as long as they can but their condition(s) get worse. “I just can do it anymore,” is what they say. Here are the steps that I generally advise people to take if they are in such a situation.

1. Sick, Vacation and Personal Time

2. Short Term or Long Term Private Disability

3. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

4. American with Disability Act Accommodation (ADA)

5. State Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

6. State Unemployment Compensation

Of course you are going to use up all your sick, vacation and any other accrued time. When that runs out ask your Human Resources Department if you have either Short-Term or Long-Term Private Disability Insurance as part of your benefits package. If you do apply for it. In some cases you may have already purchased the insurance separately through an outside insurance broker. If you don’t have private disability insurance or it runs out go on unpaid leave through FMLA. If you are with a very small employer they may not be required to provide you FMLA. When FMLA runs out ask for an ADA Accommodation form. They may be able to change your work responsibilities or put you in another position. If they have no accommodations for you, then you will probably be dismissed at this point. Lastly, before you file for unemployment, go and enroll with the State Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. They specialize in finding jobs for disabled people that the people can do despite their disabilities.

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