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Problems with their Employers when returning to work?

cbskibumccbskibum Posts: 88
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am over three months post L5 S1 fusion surgery, and my Doctor has released me to go back to work, except he placed restrictions on no bending, twisting or lifting anything over 10#s. Time loss estimated till July 8. Which means my doc estimates a full release then. My surgery was due to an accident unrelated to my job.

Pain wise, I feel as well or better than I did before surgery. I feel I can do my job as well or better than I could before surgery.

My Job does not require heavy lifting nor bending or twisting.

My employer will not let me return to work without a full realease. I understand I am now a liability. There is a part of me that thinks this is discrimination, and I feel for all of you who have gone through similar situations.

My questions to you all are: Have any of you ever had problems with your employers allowing you to return to work after surgery? And, What can I do in the meantime, ie disability, food, utilities, legal?


  • I wanted to return part time before my 2nd MicroD but my employer would not let me back unless I could return full time.

    Because it was their choice to not have me back at part time, they agreed to pay me at 100% when my doctor released me to work fully.

    I was upset when I first learned of this situation, because I felt like they didn't want me or were trying to discriminate me...

    But since I will be paid at 100% when I am released, I can't complain. It was just odd to feel that they didn't want me back for part time work.

    Good luck!

  • It just depends on the job. I was released lite duty at 6 weeks but as the injury didnt "officially" happen at work I would be a liability vs. if I was workmans comp I wouldof been forced to come back once released on lite duty.

  • They are paying you 100%? What do you do loving gardener?
  • Are you back to work already?
  • Can you get disability if your not sure when you are going to be able to go to work?
  • If you have short term disability you should be able to apply and receive it since they will not allow you to return.

    I have good benefits job, I have been off twice for 3 months at a stretch during the last three years, never missed a single pay! Once I used up all my sick and vacation time I applied for and was granted catastrophic leave. With that in place my co-workers could donate their unused sick time to me!

    Even if I have to take unpaid leave I can be off for a year before they will terminate my position. Catastrophic leave allows me to get paid that entire year!

    On top of that I have disability insurance that will kick in should I no longer be able to work here at all. I should be good for 2 years total.

    I hope to never need any of it again, but I'm not sure how this next surgery may effect my current state of affairs!

  • I also had some trouble returning to work. It really came as a shock to me.

    Finally after some back and forth stuff my work allowed me to come back with restrictions. I had been off for about 5 1/2 months by that time.

    For 3 months of that I took FMLA leave - unpaid leave, but job is protected. During that time I also had fellow employees donate their vacation time for me to take as sick leave. I am forever grateful for that!

    Then I was given 2 months of short term disability from my work. Not a 100% paycheck, but enough to get by on temporarily. They did not want me back until it was certain I could handle the job - they become liable if I am re-injured, so they take the restrictions VERY seriously.

    The donated time, disability and personal bank of sick/vacation did not cover me the whole time, so I feel terribly lucky to have been accepted back at work.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    gracefully re-introduced (each time of surgery).
    After I had the doctors OK to return to work, my work force would only allow 1/2 days for the first two weeks, then going to 3/4 days for four more weeks and then after about 6 weeks after I had the OK from my doctor, whould my employee allow me to work full time.
    Every company is different. And I need to add those times were from 1979 until 2001.. I am not sure how everything would be handled if it was today.

    To me what is so important is that you do not allow your job to push you more than you are capable of doing. And that is hard, especially in today's economy. But also keep in mind, if your employee had you return too soon and demand too much and you had new problems, they could be in a world of hurt
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Skibum, I am going through the same thing as you! I can't return to work until I am 100%, which is not happening. I had 13 weeks of short term disability @ 100%, 13 weeks of extended short term @ 60%, now I am transitioning into work's long term disability, which is taking forever!! I haven't gotten a paycheck since the first week in February. This really sucks. I also lost my position as Quality Control Technician. This was possible for them to replace me when all of my short term ran out. I am guaranteed a job somewhere in the plant when I can return, but that will be factory work. I really don't know if my Dr will ever release me to that. I am pretty scared. I also have 50% pay for the rest of my life if I am deemed unable to work at all. I have no idea when & if I will be able to get back to work! By the way, my injury was not work related....otherwise it would be another story, with work having me in there for 2 hours a day washing windows, cleaning bathrooms, etc...I've seen it done before. What a system!!!
  • At my 2 week post op (L5,S1 fusion - cage & screws) appt. my Dr. released me "full duty" to work and I was shocked! So were my co-workers and boss, but I did return to work on day 18 post op full time 10 hour days, 4 days a week. I am doing very well but still have that annoying nerve leg sensation/pain once in awhile.

    My employer has been very quite about my surgery and my duties and lack of restrictions, which is kind of weird, but I'm ok with it, I'm just glad I have a job right now. There are about 3 co-workers who I think sincerely care about me, but other than that I don't think anyone else really cares. This is not workers comp related, so I don't know if that matters with the way my employer has reacted to my surgery, which is basically a non-reaction. Again, I am just grateful that my recovery is going so well and I am able to work.
  • During the first 45 days (short-term disability) I was paid at 100%. After that, I will get paid at 75%. If it becomes long-term it will 60% but not taxed (don't know how this works.)

    I know that my doctor will probably release me to work in three weeks but the school would rather would have a substitute until end of the school year. Better for the kids--that is what I've been told. I don't quite agree 100%. Therefore, I will out until the end of the school year, but will be paid 100% once I get the doctor's release. It was confusing at first.

  • My employer didn't have a problem after my surgery L5-S1 fusion, they even promoted me! I went to work after 5 1/2 weeks, however at 5 months I fell at work and have been on Workers Comp 16 months now. I have more pain than after surgery and they have demoted me, cut my pay drastically and am now at a position that I don't really enjoy at all. According to them the last position change is to accomodate my disability - no lifting over 10lbs, etc. Don't believe it for a second - I hurt more now than the last position I was in. So, for those of you at work please be careful - it all changes when you are on Worker Comp! :(
  • rubie77 said:
    My employer didn't have a problem after my surgery L5-S1 fusion, they even promoted me! I went to work after 5 1/2 weeks, however at 5 months I fell at work and have been on Workers Comp 16 months now. I have more pain than after surgery and they have demoted me, cut my pay drastically and am now at a position that I don't really enjoy at all. According to them the last position change is to accomodate my disability - no lifting over 10lbs, etc. Don't believe it for a second - I hurt more now than the last position I was in. So, for those of you at work please be careful - it all changes when you are on Worker Comp! :(
    I believe you. What is the deal about workers comp and why does it change the employers position and attitude about the employee?
  • Workers comp costs a fortune. This is not meant as a rib as I may fall into this area one day, but once you have back problems, even after your doctor clears you, you are a HUGE liability.

  • I wonder if this is why they don't want me to return until I am completely healed

  • You were very fortunate, and lucky to have such dedicated coworkers. Short term disability is not an a benefit in my state or at my job. Still searching for the options though. Thank you so much for your reply.
  • Thanks for your reply. I have read a lot about you so I feel I already know you. lol. I wish I was gracefully reintroduced, and like you said, I think my problem is that since I have back problems already, my employer sees a future lawsuit if I get hurt further on the job. With that you are correct. But isn't it MY choice to return to work if I know the risks and willing to assume the risks? And furthermore, boy you are a friggin tough cookie!
  • Man your right amybug, what a system. How do we fix it? Or work around it anyway? I see most of "you guys and gals" are lucky to have at least some portion of your pay at your job. What fortunate people you are. I work for a non profit I guess most of our money goes to help out people in the community, maybe we should have saved some money to benefit the employees that work for it, oh well. Sorry you lost your job as a quality control tech. Thanks for your reply.
  • I bet your right loving gardener!
  • My pre SCS appt. I'm nervous about where I will end up...
    It's supposed to be a short leave till I am released for desk duty, but, and a big but here. I have been told I will not be released by my PM for work till the staples come out and that is on day 10. Then I have to file med management papers for the restriction/work release. The SCS restriction will be for about 4 weeks of NO LIFTING. I don't think Human Resources will allow me back. Once I get passed the 6 weeks of no lifting I will have to clarify my abilities to Human Resources.....

    Could be all she wrote for this chapter as I don't have a clue as to what or where they may decide to place me IF they allow me to return at all.

    For now, I am going to try and ignore the whole mess. I have a wife with a good job, the house is paid for and I have disability insurance. We'll get by. I really need to push this back and forget about it.

    But we know how well that works don't we?!
  • Oh I know it costs a fortune, but a company's rates don't go up until someone gets hurt Jak.

    So the company, if they don't take you back is betting that you more than anybody else in the world is gonna get hurt.

    The question is is it right for a company to be able to do that?
  • Glad the shack is paid for buddy and you got the insurance! Ignoring the mess and going on with our lives and hoping for the best is probably the best thing we can do sometime's isn't it?

    I hope your HR lets you back in or takes care of yah like a bunch of our other brothers and sisters in pain.

    Let me know how it works out for yah.
  • [quote=pepper09 What is the deal about workers comp and why does it change the employers position and attitude about the employee?

    See THIS is what im talking about. Worker's Comp is insurance. It's insurance for if something bad happens to employees. The Problem with WC is that a company's rates get jacked up if SOMETHING happens.

    So here I, and some of you sit ABLE to do my job, but UNABLE to work cause companies are scared of their WC rates getting Jacked if one of us gets hurt further!

    In my opinion that's discrimination, like saying a company won't hire someone in a wheelchair, cause their afraid of them trying to wheel themselves down a flight of stairs. The person in the wheelchair knows to take the elevator. I know my limitations, I'm not gonna try and lift anything over 10 friggin pounds!
  • I see both sides, both "our side" of wanting to work, being able to some extent, and I can see our employers side of us being a liability.

    I'll use myself as an example:

    I had a 3 level fusion which shows I have back issues. The injury which led to surgery did not happen at my work.

    I am a nurse and I lift a lot, I push/pull, among other things.

    So at 6 weeks I was released for lite duty, no lifting more than 15lbs, no pushing no pulling. I went up to notify my boss, and they told me I can not come back till I am off of all restrictions.

    The reason which I completely understand and even agree with:

    The "if" factor. What if a patient falls and I go to grab them, what "if" an emergency occurs and I am forced to do CPR on duty, these are quick examples.

    In either case, I could easily reinjure my back, or worse. Now who covers this? My back was still weak at 6 weeks since I was on lite duty. It becomes a workmans comp case as I was injured on the job. Then the big issues occur.

    Workmans comp won't cover me as I was on lite duty and went beyond my limits imposed by my surgeon. But my insurance won't cover it as it happend on the job! Now I am in limbo and it becomes a legal case, hince liability.

    I can say with certainity once I start back I am getting short and longterm disability. If your employer doesnt offer it you can get it privately.

    I also believe there should be a type of short term disability coverage through the government for 3-6month stents, like unemployment. There are too many who suck off of SSD for life when others get ruined from the time off they need to recover from surgery/procedures so they can get back to working. This is one thing that pisses me off.
  • Speak of the devil, my long term disability was approved today. Their ears must have been ringing!! :D I have to wait for corporate offices to send me notification on extending my medical coverage, 401K, life ins, etc.. I get company rates for up to 2 years. I'm just glad to have a check in the mail!!! Good luck to everyone, and keep fighting for whats rightfully yours. Including plenty of time off to recover fully.
  • I purchased my short term/long term disability. My work has great short term on it's own, but to buy the longer term that would cover me if between an accident that went over works standard length and keep me paid till SSD kicks in I had to buy a package. It is really pretty cheap. I think it costs me about $7-10 a month. It will pay me 60% of pay till I am retirement age if needed. If I need to retrain it will pay like 80% for two years then it stops paying. I would think that is where I will be if I don't get back in at work after this.

    I should be able to get some donated sick time from others for up to a year from May 4th, then the insuarnce will kick in for 2 years if I am deemed to be able to work but not able to work at my old job. That is intended to allow me income while I retrain. Now, if I am deemed not employable and SSD does not take me on I will get the 60% pay till I am 65 and can get ss. I see all kinds of loopholes hanging to be jumped through if I need to actually use this insurance.

    I prefer to get back to work and not need it at all.
    If I can get to a point I can do office work my immediate supervisor and his bosses want me, or so they say. They have planned to rewrite my current job to an "office" job.
    You know how corporate things can be. I have no idea as to if I will fit the critera to work here/there anymore.

    Part of me does not care. I need to find myself if this works.

    Has anyone seen ME anywhere?
  • My human resources lady neglected to give me my short term and long term dsiability papers to sign during the signups because she forgot to...

    Very mad about that.
  • Looks like you planned ahead really well rambler. I'll check into short and long term disability soon, I'm sure maybe I might be in trouble now with history of prexisting conditions.

    Jako sorry that the HR lady messed up at your work for yah. That stinks.

    Amybug congratulations, I'm checking into ssdi now and hope I can get it.

    Jako I think your right about us being a liability I just personally don't think it's right. It's just like saying to someone in a wheelchair they can't have a job cause they might roll down a staircase in a wheelchair, they have to take the elevator. You know your limitations, it is Your choice to accept the risk of working, not employers choice to tell you can't work.
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