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Work related issue



  • It really seems unfair that you wouldn't be able to work at home as another worker already does. I guess you're not in a Union otherwise they would be able to help you. I think there should be a meeting with HR and your Manager with your Dr. letter and if there's a Occupational Nurse at your company even better. Mark down the reasons why you need to work at home and present it in the meeting and find out why there's an issue with them not wanting you to work at home.
    I had an issue when I started working Sunday to Thursday and I wanted to work Monday to Friday nights and the Manager wouldn't give me that option so I had to leave work. It was an agency working my days off so I can't see is why they didn't change it for me. Mangers need training on workers retention and helping their employees work efficiently and best for their company otherwise they lose their good employees. Even if you go in Monday and get your work for the week and meet the standards and bring the results into your Boss on Friday to show that you are indeed doing your job that may work. I wish you all the best in sorting this out. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Scott,

    First off, I am sorry to hear that you are going through all this. I don't see in your post that you are bitter or feel targeted (yeah, you state one manager has issues, but with *men* and not you in specifics). I agree with DisabledAmerican in a LOT of ways here. I am with the Federal Govt. (till *my* disability ret. goes through), and a supervisor. The ADA is similarly written be it ADA or the Rehabilitation Act. If an employee has a condition that under "reasonable accommodation" the agency can accommodate, they are expected to! Now if you have something such that a company would have to spend like a hundred thousand dollars and you make like $30,000 they could (probably rightfully so) argue that is isn't "financially" accommodating for the company to do so. Okay, that being said....

    The job you state you have allows for you to complete it be it from home (tele-commute) or when physically there. The list of medications you say you take daily, whew...Pain and pill schedule, I wouldn't be driving period, but that is me. I agree again with DA in that you should call in sick until HR gives you an answer one way or another. If you even drive in for a couple of days, that could very well nullify to your agency that in fact you *can't* handle the drive due to pain or meds. You could basically be kicking yourself in the foot if you go in after you have now advised them verbally and in writing. See? Not to mention your putting yourself and others in possible danger?

    I've had the surgery's and still have issues such that 25-30 minutes is my driving limit. Work falls barely within that range for me. I take my Lyrica after I get in the office - I won't drive on it. I don't know given the list you take if you can drive without meds and take them at work. Then too, ahh pain is worse - lose lose for you there Scott.

    Can a doctor intervene? Yes and no. What I mean is they can submit letters of advice, and too "direction" to follow (doctors orders). The company can choose to work within its boundaries or tell you to stay home until better, or terminate you for cause. Cause being "unable to meet company standards" or some phrase of similar. They can be of help with legal ADA issues, workers comp., retirement assistance etc. Hell, there are some fields out there that would LOVE to have an employee that works from home - saves them on liability, sick days etc. Have you looked around for similar employment if it comes to that?

    You mentioned that "no one else in the office heard of this new policy..." If that indeed turns out to be the case, if you can afford it, a consult with an attorney might be prudent to see if you have a case for where you live. Just my thoughts there. If you decide to do that, don't "tip your hat" to your management, else they will cover their (you know) and everyone will have to come in. That could be good or bad depending I guess. I hope it works out well for you Scott.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Yeah, the tidal wave you mention scares me. I was never someone that wanted a lot of attention. I am a shy person and hate confrontations. Part of me just wants to quit to avoid the attention. I'll probably never get another good raise or bonus because of this.

    My manager is located in CA and I am in FL. I won't even see him. My only contact with him is by phone or instant message. The HR rep is located at my site. There is no one else in the office I will be working with.

    I'm working on an important project and the project manager is that nasty person I mentioned. I've been working overtime on the project for months. I am afraid to get behind on it by calling in sick. Now driving in will add even more time. And I'm afraid they will stall on making a decision. I'm a wimpy person, so they probably think I will eventually give in.

    At my managers request (that's what the HR person said), HR mailed me a form that looks similar to the sample ADA letter. I brought it to my PM doctor and he said they would take care of it. When the doctor's office called to say it was ready, they gave me the letter instead of the completed forms. I gave the letter to HR. Maybe I should have completed the form myself and attached the letter? I never sent anything certified either as I was trusting.

    I know of three other employees that are allowed to work from home because they live further away from the office. All three are women. They didn't have to do anything. I think I have a justified reason for working from home, but they don't seem to want me to do that. Just the thought of it being so easy for them and hard for me has made me very depressed.

    I've also made an appointment with my PM doctor. Maybe he can do something since they are already going against his advice.
  • Scott,

    In government I have seen many managers go after folks they "know" (really they don't know how a person will react when backed into a corner!) will not fight back. That is systemic everywhere! It could be as AD alluded to that they are bringing you in to terminate you. I don't know as I don't know your company or the people dynamics for politics. I too am in Florida, and this is a "shall work" state. Meaning they can really remove you with pretty much no reason. Not good there.

    I use to feel "guilty" calling in sick because of things I needed to finish or continue at work. My partner (I am in law enforcement) reminded me one day "The job will go on without you! Look out for number one first." His words couldn't have been truer! I see that even more so now that I told them I was in process for disability retirement! I am ignored (which is fine by me), and a lot of what I was doing is being spread out amongst many! Yeah, most of the things I did aren't being put on 1 person, but about 10! ROFLA!!!

    Scott, sad as this sounds, if you were to drop dead right now, would that project still get done? If the answer is yes, then you need to look real hard before you decide (because it is sounding to me that you are going to take the risk and drive in) to drive and risk health and others. It really has nothing to do with "giving in" but with doing what is right for you. There is only 1 YOU!! Sit in front of a mirror and have a honest talk with yourself! Yeah, it sounds stupid, but we can't lie to ourselves now can we?

    Being in govt. for almost 30 years and knowing how they function, I would have filled out the form, and attached the letter. I would not be surprised if they "kick it back" for not having the proper forms filled out. My NS made a "statement letter", and then got fussy when my lawyer went back to him and told him he NEEDS to fill out the govt. forms and insert his statement. He did it, but it was like pulling teeth! When my doctor was told gently that by not filling out the paperwork would slow my retirement (which he agrees with my retirement), he complied.

    Now as for the others (women) being allowed to work from home and such. That is valid of an argument if you pursue and EEO complaint or (I don't know your age), if you can prove the discrimination is due to your being over 40 (protected category there). If you aren't going to pursue either of these venues, then you need to concentrate and focus on your situation.

    As for the PM doc. A double edged sword here. He can not force an employer to comply with his directions, the directions are for you. So if *YOU* drive in contrary to his directions, then it can be argued legally that *you* went against doctors orders. The employer is only laying out requirements for employment. It is up to us as individuals as to whether those instructions or conditions are acceptable to continue or accept employment. I am sure that is not what you want to hear, but they can argue that you (you) are going against doctors orders. Conversely, a good lawyer can argue that you felt "undue stress" by your superiors to comply. See, double edged...could be for or against you in the end. Be careful - talk in that mirror!! Best wishes...


    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • My husband and I were talking of your situation, and he reminded me of something that happened with me that could be of "reasonable accommodation" use for you.

    They directed me for a "Fitness for Duty Exam" last month. I advised my Director that I could not drive (pain) for more than 30 minutes - the doctors office is about an hour and a half away. They paid for me to get there and back.

    Okay, with that stated, if they "really" "need" you in the office, then put it back on them in the arena of "Reasonable Accommodation"...have them provide transportation (taxi, limo, a co-worker) drive you back and forth to work. It is hard for them to then state (though they can of course) that your request (as to it gives a solution) is not normally one that would be deemed "unaccommodating." A lawyers letter might add teeth to this request. Companies don't like lawyers, especially when they think they have you on the ropes!

    Reiterating...you might want to look around and see what other companies would WELCOME your skill set from home. You might be surprised, even with this economy. Take care.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Scott, I'd think your manager would be your strongest ally in this fight. Has he spoken to HR for you, or have you asked him to?

    The other thing I was thinking was that if they are going to change your job description, you could file an immediate disability claim. That could protect your job until it's resolved.
  • This thread seems very adversarial to me. Would it not be better to get a ride into work on Monday and go talk to HR. Maybe the woman 100 miles away has been given the same spiel. This doesn't necessarily mean they have a problem with Scott because of his condition.

    Scott, on a side note. I take the same amount of prescription drugs as you do every day. Every day, I get up and drive myself to work, take my drugs and go about my day. I do the same thing as you do except I work virtually all around the world. No, I cannot work from home because I work in a secure environment.

  • Thanks for all the advice. I really appreciate it because I'm concerned about doing or saying the wrong thing.

    I've scanned the forms and letter into my computer so I'd have copies. I will complete the form this weekend and email them to HR (read receipt requested) ASAP. I will mail a certified copy to HR on Monday.

    I start work early and since my manager is in CA, I can send an email telling them I am unable to come into the office for some reason. Funny thing is, I have two cars that I rarely drive.

    I don't see how they could deny me from working from home, other than because they can. It has no impact on my ability to do my work. In fact, it would be better for me to work from home as I am always available and can be more flexible. I work with people in India, the one that already works from home in FL and the rest of my team in CA.

    I think my manager is reluctantly helping me. Before I got the letter from the doctor, I had told him what I was taking and that I had a harder time turning my neck. That it was not a good idea that I drive. He claims he never heard of my meds. Then I got the story that HR wants to see the letter so they can read it and make sure no one else has my problem and drives in, because that wouldn't be fair. I don't see how they would be able to do that.

    I think finally, since I didn't back down, he got HR to send me the forms. My manager is kind of wimpy too. Since I hadn't heard back from HR before the deadline, I asked him if I could continue to work from home until HR decides. He said to drive in and hopefully, HR will decide Monday. I think he is using HR as an excuse. Make HR look like the bad person. Pretty much all these conversations are via email. We rarely talk in person. I pretty much just do my job.

    I know the project manager I mentioned is a bully. She's a tyrant. She needs to bully someone and I am the weak person. My manager and the other manager are afraid of her. It's much easier for them to give into her. The first 10 years I worked there, everything was fine. Once she came along, I've always have been afraid of her. When we reorganized last fall, I told my manager I was afraid of her. She tried to get one of my male coworkers fired and two of them laid off. She resents men. I've heard her in action when we were both in the office. She treats the other female coworker that works from home great, me like dirt. And management does nothing about it when I say something. I've tried to switch to another group, but there are never any openings in the US. I've always been a hard worker and tried to be obedient. That's one reason, I don't want to get behind on the project... so I don't have hear her complain. One time I got sick and caused one of her projects to be a week late and ended up with a number of lies in my review. Somehow, she believed I "crossed" her (her words) and needed to be punished. She was also my supervisor at the time, but not my manager. My manager at the time, let her put it in my review. The next year, I had a different supervisor and projects and everything was fine. The same manager said my supervisor "though highly" of me.

    So, now I am back on one of her projects and it's been hell for the past six months. The other woman that works from home on the project gets treated great and I don't. I'm terrified of her, because none of the managers stand up to her and she gets her way.

    It's hard being in pain, taking meds that mess with your mind and dealing with her. When I asked my manager if she will have to start coming into the office, he said it would be up to her manager, where I was told it was a new policy with no exception other than living too far away.

    If I call in sick Monday, she will have a fit and do her best to make me look bad. And she gets away with it. That's what she did to the other guys. And what if HR still doesn't make a decision Monday? They could hold off for a long time. I would think that since my manager has read the Doctor's letter, it would be pretty clear that I not drive in. But he decided otherwise. Should I keep making up excuses to stay home forcing them to do something?


  • Hi Dave,

    I can tell you the other woman was not given the same spiel. I talk to her every day. Plus my manager said she was allowed to work from home. I know she has called me a drug addict. Which does make me wonder about my own judgment though or what they think about it.

    I know what is good for me and driving is not one of them. Why would I take a chance when I don't need to? I avoid riding in a car altogether, because of the bouncing.

  • Scott,

    I guess I'm in the minority here. Personally, I think you're about to open a can of worms and its not going to turn out well for you. I wish you all the luck.

  • You're probably right. I'm 52, I've worked hard all my life and I'm in pain. I've sat in my chair at home and worked many frantic hours to get my work done. Even though, the longer I worked, the more pain I was in. But I wasn't going to give in to it.

    In the past 9 years many of the jobs in my company went to India. Seeing that the future wasn't that bright there, I began saving extra money. I don't think many people are happy at my company and wonder how long they will have their job. I tried to keep busy so I wouldn't think about it. In fact, I like being busy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fearful people there.

    If it wasn't for my condition, I would have found another job with a better future. I know I have good skills and ethics. But I knew I couldn't commute and hide the pain. It was too risky. I would never know if it was going to get worse. Being able to work from home was a big advantage with this job.

    Like I said I am not an assertive person. The woman I work with that works from home is very bossy. She puts on this tough attitude to scare people. No one messes with her. I know it's her defense. My manager is not assertive either. The nasty project manager is very assertive.

    What bothers me is that I have a documented medical condition, yet they would let someone that bought a house 100 miles away work from home because the drive was too long. When she and her husband first got their jobs at my company, they had to drive in 5 days a week as did everyone else. When they started giving everyone a laptop, she managed to get them to let them work from home one day and then two days a week.

    Over a year ago, after one of the reorganizations and we no longer worked on the same team, we all began to work from home full time. Then in 10/2008 her husband was laid off.

    She's 54 and I'm sure they would feel bad making her drive in by herself. She and her husband chose to move where they did. I did not chose my condition. But why do they ignore me? Because I am such a pushover and she isn't? She didn't have to get involved with HR, nor has any one else that still can work from home. Because the project manager has so much influence and thinks men need to be punished for their treatment of women? Because they think I will give in? Who knows. I'm just in pain and tired of the hassles. I don't like being treated unfairly and I know I am.

    We have a lot of work to do on the project. I get stuck with working on more than can be done in a normal work day. I like working on it and I'm proud of what I have done. I feel responsible for getting it done. I know they would survive without me. I know my coworker takes advantage of me. That's why she was worried I'd quit. Every time I wanted to take vacation this year the project manager fought it. She said the project was too important. My manager and I ended up bargaining with her so I could take it. I also ended up losing vacation because I reached the limit. Yet my coworker was allowed to take two weeks off in the middle of the project. When the project manager was my supervisor, I wasn't allowed to take more than one week or one vacation per month. She was afraid there would be a problem and I wouldn't be there.

    Sorry for writing so much. I guess I could go on and on. It makes me feel better to tell someone. And this problem seems so big to me. If you've read all this, I appreciate the attention :-)

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Hi there. I've been in the same boat! First let me preface this by apologizing as this may be long but your story reminding me a lot of what I went through.

    I worked for a large multi-national finance and insurance company. While some of our offices in the US were huge and the work done required people be in the office, in my case I was in a regional office that was 2-3 people at any one time.

    My first boss, who hired me, had no problem with me working from home much of the time. I still had to travel as needed and be in the office for specific meetings and dates, etc. And I would come in at least twice a week to pick up my mail, print large documents I didn't want to print at home, etc. When he hired me I had just had an ACDF.

    Two years later he left and I was also having another surgery. I came back to work at 6 weeks post op and was now reporting to a manager in TX. He too was fine with me working at home and was of the "work when and where you want as long as it gets done". Again I told them I would be at any meetings, travel as needed, etc. It was no problem and I continued to be rated 5 out of 5 by both this guy and my prior boss.

    Last December they moved a manager from our Chicago office to the Phoenix office. He was one of those that didn't want to know anything personal but had been told about my surgery. I told him that I work from home at least a few days a week and sometimes have appointments and/or need to alter my work schedule. And again that I'd meet whatever other requirements they had (travel, meetings, etc). This guy was not tolerant of anyone having a personal life in any way. Although we were all encouraged to work at home it held no interest to him and he was opposed to it. I sucked it up and introduced him to all our area brokers and consultants and customers and business partners. In March I had some neck problems and had occasional tests (CT, MRI, etc). I never had to worry about this before as I made sure I had no calls or customer visits that would conflict. But my boss then said in his office "You have too many problems". Of course this is illegal but ther's no one to hear it when the department is just he and I. Finally in April I had severe back pain and my doctor said he wanted to try a new medication. He said sometimes it makes people a little loopy or tired so for the first 24 hours I should plan on not driving. I called my boss and told him and he said "not acceptable, we'll talk when you get back". I did find on the medication and was back at the office the next day.

    He then said that I was now required to be in the office daily from 8-5, no late arrivals, no outside personal appointments, etc. I said that my job didn't require that but I would strive to meet his needs. I called HR and this is where I found out HR doesn't care....they are all about the business an not the employee. They said my boss had the ability to define my job and what was needed. I'm in AZ and HR was in Georgia. They sent me a 12 page form for my doctors to complete to justify my need for accommodations. All my doctors said that was fine but I'd have to give them at least two weeks to get it together etc. I told my boss that I need him to understand that I need to be accommodated while this process was underway. He said no. HR again said it was his right.

    I called HR and, having been in Benefits related insurance and issues for years as part of my job, I said "Essentially the company has been accommodating my needs by default since my start date. I have been consistently rated as the highest in my division and my performance has not suffered".
    They responded that "If it's not in writing it's not an accommodation".

    Now, in the meantime the company and my division was encouraging work at home for people in my position. In fact I knew of others in my region who worked at home at least 75% of the time and that's all I was asking.

    I was in the office one day in pain but it didn't affect my work. He could tell in the way I carried myself and slowly rose from my chair, etc.

    Here's where it got personal and I was finally convinced the company as a whole did not care. He insisted I go out on Short Term Disability (STD) until the accommodations could be ironed out. I was fine with that as our STD was quite generous. Keep in mind I used to work in disability claims for years and worked myself up to senior management before getting on the sales and account management side. I responded to email while at home and all of the sudden he revoked my remote access and my blackberry wiped itself out. I was also hearing from co-workers in other states that he was already implying I was gone for good. But of course verbally, never in writing, and never in a way HR would be told.

    The nurse from the disability insurance carrier (who did our STD) called me and said "I just got your job description from your boss, it says you are required to be able to lift and carry more than 75 lbs frequently during the day. This must be wrong as it doesn't make sense". I agreed. My *&^% boss had also figured he could get me out by creating a job description he knew would exclude me. He told them, and HR, that I could only return if I had NO restrictions whatsoever. Well that's never going to happen when you've had some spine surgeries. And it makes no sense. At that point I started to fight HR but I saw it was a loosing battle. My boss had a new boss who was one of these "women are weak if they can't work 80 hours a week" (and she was a woman as am I). They promoted another person in our region and I swear it was in preparation for getting rid of me.

    Finally I had fought and wanted to return part time and work up to full time. As soon as I wanted this I got a letter that my position was eliminated and if I could prove no resritions they would see if I could fit into another position. Ummm, there was NO other position in our office in our region. It was he and I. He soon hired an entry level support staff. That saves him money, and he farmed out my work to our other regional offices.

    Now normally having STD approved to the max (26 weeks) and then having LTD approved is an uphill battle. While an outside company administered our STD, our internal staff does our LTD (as our company does disability as part of our business offerings).

    So here I sit on LTD and as it turns out am heading for surgery likely in February.

    So after all that...here's what I suggest
    (1) Fight to get your needs accommodated. It sounds like your situation is similar in that being in your office or being at home makes no real difference. Mileage is an arbitrary condition of who can work at home. I'd even consider an attorney if it gets to that point. The only drawback is some employers will try to make your life miserable, though within the letter of the law and not violating anything, if they are upset by accommodating.
    (2) If you at all sense this may get ugly check out the benefits available to you. Sounds like your company may be large enough that you may have an internal intranet wtih benefit information. If so download and copy all the information on STD and LTD (I'm sure hoping you have those)

    When everything hit the fan in April I made sure to print it all out. And I have friends who are still there and they've also printed out and sent me additional stuff as needed.

    For years, when I worked in disability claims, I was amazed at some employers who had their HR staff call "concerned" over the claim of a specific employee - would they be approved? They felt so bad for them. Now, looking back, sometimes that was just "can we loose him now the easy way".

    In my case this all worked out for the best as my company is in trouble. They have to sell of much of the insurance businesses to remain in existence so there have now been layoffs. I'm guessing that even objectively (even if I was loved) I'd have been on the layoff list in September as our office has declining revenue and it is hard to justify the need for a full time account manager. I'm on LTD and the way our plan works, for which I'm greatfull, is that as long as I'm on LTD I am covered by the health insurance. I pay what retirees would pay (so more than if I was working but less than if I was on COBRA or out seeking my own insurance).

    I hope this helps in letting you know you are not alone. I don't want to scare you with all this but want to let you know this happens more than you know. Please let me know if you have any questions.


    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Hi Karin, thanks for taking the time to explain your situation.

    I know not to trust HR. I don't really trust any of the managers. The last one I had, went to the conference for the software I use that was held in Las Vegas and only attended one hour of the conference. The rest of the time was spent in the casino. She had gotten the project manager to go with her. She's the one that told me about it. I still work with that manager. How can you trust someone with those ethics. Two years ago she told us that if you made more than the midpoint for your job's salary range, you wouldn't get a raise. I was told there were less fortunate people in our group that needed money. Me and another wimpy woman I work with got the call we wouldn't get a raise. We were the only two I know of. I went to HR to check where my salary fell within the range and it was just short of the midpoint. When raise time came the other woman and I got one percent instead of zero. Probably had to do with me going to HR. All during the year the project manager, which at the time was also my supervisor and rated our reviews complained she wasn't paid enough. I wonder where my raise really went?

    I don't know what the story is with my current manager. He seems like a nice guy. He never cared that I worked from home before. He was always nice to me. I think something is putting pressure on him to get me to come into the office. I have a feeling that he will blame HR so he's off the hook. He could have told me that I could work from home until this is cleared up and no one would really know. But he chose not to. I have a feeling HR will drag their feet and in the meantime I am expected to drive in. I might drive in for a couple of days, but not more than that.

    My company does have an intranet site with all the benefit information. I'm not familiar with how short term and long term disability works. I think the STD is at full pay. I think the LTD is pretty good as well. I think the project manager would be really angry if I was not at work. They sure would not volunteer me for it. How do you get to use either of them?

    I have contemplated getting a lawyer. I know I have not been treated fairly. I just hate to create a big mess. All I want to do is get my job done and do it from home. I could see them complaining if I had a team there in the office, but I have no one. I know a woman on another team that does have team members in the office and she still works from home full time. I don't know why she was allowed to do it.

    I have been participating in the employee stock purchase program and have collected quite a few shares over the years, about 68k worth. I was thinking of cashing it in Monday in case I am going to be unemployed or just get fed up and quit.

    I don't think I am asking a lot of them. It costs them nothing. I really think they expect me to be a wussy and not fight it and give up. But I don't want to do that.

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Be sure to get the plan documents for the STD and LTD. First, that will help you see what the benefits are for you. Second, it will be your guide should you find you are unable to work and need to file a claim.

    Many employers have information on the intranet as to "What to do if you need to go out on leave" and they will post information about STD, LTD and FMLA along with other leaves they may allow. It should tell you what to do, who to call, etc. My employer has a single phone # employees call (it's outsourced to a third party) for any leave. So when it came to going on STD I had to call that number and initiate my claim. I had, in hand, all of the names and contact info for all my physicians and practitioners (including my massage therapist if needed). Some employers have you complete a claim form but that is becoming more rare (it's usually the case with smaller less technologically advanced companies).

    I'm hoping LTD was something provided for you as an employee. Some employers require you to enroll in LTD and pay for premiums. This enrollment generally happens when you begin employment.

    In my case my employer offers STD at 80% of my pre-disability earnings for 26 weeks. After that I transition to LTD if still deemed disabled. My company offers 50% LTD (50% of my pre-disability earnings) and can last until I reach SS retirement age if I continue to be deemed as disabled under the specific plan definition. Upon hire I chose to buy-up to the 60% non-taxable LTD plan. I payed for this every month in the form of a paycheck premium deduction. And I am now SO glad that I did that as my benefits are non-taxable. STD and LTD are taxable to the extent to which the employer paid the premium.

    Did you recently do benefit enrollment for 2010? Was there any indication of an ability to elect, or already be enrolled, in LTD?

    STD and LTD pay you a % of your income if you are unable to perform the requirements of your job. So it's not just based on having a diagnosis, but having objective medical information to support that the person is unable to perform the essential duties of his/her job.

    For example, someone who is diabetic may be considered "disabled" in some ways, but my not be unable to perform his/her job. So the diagnosis alone doesn't qualify one for benefits, it's the exact things that would limit the person from working. If that same person with diabetes were to develop kidney complications and eye sight problems it would be the kidney and eye problems that may qualify him/her for benefits.

    The company that administers the STD and LTD (usually a disability insurance company or third party administrator hired by the employer) evaluates the medical information in comparison to the specific job description and job info provided by the employer. So since my &^%$ boss said "Must be able to lift, carry, and handle 75 lbs frequently" and the medical data showed I could not do this, I was then deemed to have met the definition of disability. If after my upcoming surgery I improve and they deem that I could return to my job, at any time, then my benefits end (even if there is no job to return to - it depends on my ability and not the existence of a job at my employer or any other).

    Most plans have a period, often 24 months, during which they evaluate your ability to do your job. After that they look at your ability to do any job for which you are reasonably qualified. With my education, experience, and salary history it would not be expected that I would take a minimal wage job. It has to be reasonable.

    The reason to get all the documents together is to get ready if/when your employer becomes too difficult and/or your condition becomes worse. I started gathering all my information, seeing my doctors to verify they understood what my current medical problems were, etc, just in case. And I'm lucky I did. When my boss basically demanded I go out I already had the support of my doctor. Unfortunately many doctors don't understand nor do they support employees going on any type of disability. I'm lucky in that mine all do.

    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I looked at the intranet site and only checked on STD. It's administered through Metlife. Like you said, you start by calling a number. It covers something like 100% for 6 weeks and then a reduced amount up to 26 weeks.

    I think the only way I would qualify for it is if they make driving a job requirement. My job description does not list driving as a job duty. But it seems they want to make it a requirement for me to be in the office.

    When I mentioned to my doctor that they wanted me to begin driving in, he said he would be glad to give me a letter recommending against it. He said he had seen this done to others when they can't tolerate it and they end up quitting and on disability. By giving me the letter, he figured they would agree to let me work from home and all would be good. I'm still in pain at home, but at least I'm earning a paycheck.

    My fear is that they will stall in making a decision. Then what do I do? Drive in or force them to decide?

    I plan to go into the office tomorrow. I can make it one day. I have an appointment with my PM doctor, so I will have to leave early. I will check the HR person's Outlook calendar to see if I can setup a meeting. I guess it will come down to them letting me working from home or since they made being in the office a requirement, I will then be disabled. Is that right?

    The doctor's letter says "Mr X has demonstrated consistently diminished extension and rotation of his neck with pain produced at the extremes of these reduced ranges- motions typically utilized in driving a motor vehicle- such a commute is likely to be poorly tolerated by Mr. X and, in fact, potentially dangerous to himself and others if performed on a regular basis.

    Based on my knowledge of Mr. X's condition and my expertise, it is my medical opinion that he would not be able to tolerate the described commute from a pain management perspective and every effort should be made to allow him to continue working from home."

    There is more prior to this part that explains that I have to travel through a busy highway interchange.

    I thought that would be enough to convince them. Would this be enough to get disability if the say that I have to be in the office? Or do I need to be completely crippled?

    I had told my manager that I did not feel comfortable making the trip medicated and unable to turn my neck sufficiently. I have a hard time switching lanes and backing up. I always worry about my judgment and reaction times, especially on a busy highway. I currently drive as little as possible or get someone else to drive. And as I said, even riding is uncomfortable due to the bouncing and shaking, etc.


  • I went into the office this morning. Around 8:00, the HR woman called my cell phone. She apologized for not getting back to me sooner. She told me she was on unexpected medical leave last week as she had broken her arm. She told me to continue working from home until they have made their decision. Of course she said I also need to have the forms completed by the doctor before they can do anything. I explained I would have the doctor's office do that, but it may take some time. I called the woman that composed the letter and told her what I needed. I also canceled my appointment with the doctor as I am still working from home for now.

    While I was in the office, I did notice that the project manager did not come in. She lives closer to the office than I do. I know she was working, because around the same time my coworker that works from home was about to have a meeting with her. I had a feeling she wouldn't be in the office.

    I had asked my manager for a copy of the policy that said no one in our division can work from home. He wrote back saying I can read the company's policies on the intranet. But working from home was at management's discretion. That's not what he originally told me.

    Boy did that made me feel sad. They are so accommodating to these other individuals, but not me. I never made a big deal about my condition. I just did whatever they asked me no matter how much it hurt. But they were aware that I had it and they knew I was being treated and it caused me pain.

    I keep thinking they want me to quit, but I just recently received an above average review. A friend at work said they would have had their opportunity during their recent round of layoffs. I've always done well with everyone except the project manager. Even she told me I was a top performer until I called in sick and caused her to miss a project deadline by one week. That was unforgivable, but I was really sick. She told another team member that the stress got to me and I had a melt down like a robot that stopped working. That's not what happened.

    Maybe, I'll be OK at my company, but I doubt it will ever be good.

  • Hi Scott,

    I'm glad your day went better than you expected. I hope the trip didn't cause you too much extra pain.

    You showed dedication to the company by going into work today and that is very commendable.

    Whenever policy revisions are made, HR obviously plays a major role in this. There are specific questionnaire forms circulated to all management personnel within the company, prior to policy revisions, which need to be completed and returned by a certain date. In this situation, I have a feeling your "limitations" were not brought to the attention of HR.

    From what you have shared, you are a valued employee. You have also been with the company for quite some time. HR is now aware of your physical limitations and you have been advised to continue to work from home. Once the necessary forms have been completed from your doctor and HR receives this information, a conference call is usually held. If an updated revision is decided, you will be one of the first to be notified.

    I am not 100% positive... but I really think you are going to be able to continue to work from home, Scott. Keep your focus on your health and your work. (There is no need for you to bring up that wicked project manager with HR, at this point. Talk about pain relief with your HR lady... lol. She would probably appreciate that).

    Best of luck to you,

    (An HR Lady)
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Some of it sounds eerily similar to mine with "management discretion" which seems to become an arbitrary decision based on wanting someone to leave.

    As for me I ended up lucky in that I went on STD and then LTD. My position would have been eliminated even if I had stayed as my employer is falling apart financially and there was sufficient justification to get rid of my position in this state. So LTD is better than no job. Had I hired an attorney I would have likely had a job until September when they eliminated my position. As it turns out my medical conditions got worse thus I'm having surgery 2/3 (if all works out with insurance). Had I really had a problem with HR and didn't have STD/LTD to fall back on I may have hired a lawyer. But then again I know that my multi-national huge employer wouldn't be intimidated by a lawyer at all.

    I would think that the letter from your doctor, and the form completed, would be sufficient. He's not saying you can't do your job - just your commute. And as long as you agree to come in on occasion if needed (i.e. mandatory meetings for all, etc) I would hope it would work for you. The form is probably required for records and for uniformity of approach to accommodations. It's possible that accommodations have to be reported and the form makes sure everyone is treated the same. m I will tell you that for my STD form I sat with my surgeon's medical assistant and we completed it together. So consider that as an option.

    STD/LTD is more tricky. In my case driving was a part of my job so I was unable to do that part due to the pain medications. But in most cases the disability carrier will not consider someone disabled from working if it's solely a commute issue. (I can tell you that the insurance carrier that does your STD will likely be of that mindset as well).

    But I also wanted you to be aware of STD and LTD for the future and not just for this current issue. As you go along should you get to a point where this, or any other conditions, preclude you from being able to work you now know you may have options. If you don't have LTD but later get a chance to enroll, please do. Unfortunately usually you must enroll within 30 days of hire but maybe your employer provides it to you thus you never had to enroll. All to often I've seen people quit or get fired when they should have considered applying for disability through their employer.

    Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • It's good to hear from someone from HR. I wouldn't bother telling them about the project manager. It would probably make me look bad and do no good. I just know to watch out for her.

    I think I have LTD as well as STD. I never really investigated it since I thought if you become disabled, you would get Social Security Disability. I guess I thought STD is for when you are out of work when recovering from surgery or an illness. I'm not sure if I really know what LTD is used for.

  • SSD is very difficult to get! It is for when you are permanently disabled. LTD is for when you are disabled long term, but not permanently or in a way that qualifies for SSD. One person I know who has had multiple failed surgery has been trying to get SSD for more than a year and is still fighting.

    There are also some state disability programs, but the payout on those is usually pretty low, so if you're a professional LTD insurance is usually a good idea!

  • I really hope things work out for you in your favor and you can work at home. I'm on LTD and have been off work 23 months. If I don't get back to work my LTD continues but I lose my job as they hold it for only 2 years but I don't think I'll be able to go back to work although I would like to of course. Best wishes. Chary
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I'll have to check on what LTD I have. I never paid attention to it. I was 39 when I got my job and in good shape. One of those things you never think you will need. Wow, even back then my health insurance was free. Little did I know that a year later, I'd wake up one morning with a herniated disc.

    So, if you have STD and LTD and at some point you cannot work, you would apply for STD. If after 26 weeks and still unable to work, you would go on LTD. How long does LTD last? Is SSD for when you don't have STD and LTD and you become disabled?

    I have to say, that sometimes the pain gets to me and I get moody. Things bother me that wouldn't have before. I think the pain meds make me moody as well. Sometimes it feels like an endurance test to make it through the workday. Today was bad. I don't ever give in and always make a point to get my work done. It gets extra difficult when the project manager gets nasty or my coworker gets bossy. The people at work just don't know what it's like.
  • My LTD lasts until I'm 65 when my pension starts or if I get better. But I have heard there are some Insurance companies that make you go on SSD. But not where I am. My STD paid for 15 weeks at 100% and LTD pays only 60% so it's tough to pay the pills right now. I may even force myself to go back to work Feb. 12th and then go out on LTD again just to keep my job. I wish they had an extension on LTD so I could take more time to heal and I may get better. I hope we all have less pain days ahead. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hey ScottM, sorry this is off topic, but was your herniated disk caused while sleeping?
  • Think very hard before you return to work! You could open a big old can of worms and find they now consider you able to perform your job.

    HR here where I work is so screwy, they give you 6 months of Medical management rights if your manager agrees to your restrictions. At the end of six months they are supposed to bring in their ADA people and accommodate, or send you back on leave, something, anything.

    When I turned in my six month papers with 50lb weight limits and no end date, plus No regular repetitive tasks, requiring bending stooping or overhead work, HR said they would take a week to talk over what they needed me to do.

    That was the week before Thanksgiving! I have never heard back from them and my supervisor does not care about my restrictions, he lets me do as I am able, so I just get to work and wait. I expect at some point HR will remember me.

    I pay into both STD and LTD, so I am not worried. Just seems like a strange way to do business.

    Not much help to ScottM I know.
  • Yes, I went to sleep feeling fine and when I woke up in the morning it was bad, really bad. I had no warning at all. Prior to it occurring, I had no pain. It all changed in one night. I imagine it must have been deteriorating for years and finally failed.

    My doctor's office called today and said she had given the forms to the doctor and they may be ready tomorrow. I have to say, for a large organization, the doctor I am seeing now seems to really care about me. I can't thank him enough!

    I checked and my STD is at 100% for 6 weeks, then 66.67% through week 26. LTD pays at 66.67% also. I don't pay anything for it. I don't think there were any options available. I just hope I don't ever need to use it.

    I have a question regarding the pain meds, I'm taking. I started out approximately 2.5 - 3 years ago taking Vicodin 7.5, then 10s. Then I graduated to the Percocet 10s. After a number of months, I wasn't getting enough continuous pain relief. They put me on Kadian 30s for more continuous relief.

    For over a year now, I've been taking the Percocet and Kadian and I don't get nearly the relief I used to. I remember years ago, if I took a Percocet 5, I'd be so spaced out. Now when I take the Percocet 10, it's like taking an aspirin.

    I know I have developed a tolerance to them. Sometimes I think my pain is getting worse, but then it might be the meds not working as well. I had an MRI last January and they commented that there was little change from the one taken several years before. That was great news! Since I have accumulated extra Kadian and Percocet over the year, sometimes, when the pain is worse, I give myself a break by taking a double dose of one of them. I don't do it very often.

    Should I be asking my doctor to increase the strength of my meds for better relief or should I just accept that this is as good as it gets? I've mentioned this to the doctor before, but never pushed it because I wanted to take care of the work situation first. Is what I'm taking now already considered a lot?

    I have a TENS unit, traction device, do stretching exercises. Their surgery center was dropped from my insurance, so I can't get any epidural nerve blocks or other procedures. The doctor did give me a trigger point injection at my last visit. It helped a little, but not significantly.

    Thanks for any advice!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Lucky people in the work force have STD and LTD. I will never accept a job that does not offer these benefits. My husband's job did not so we purchased him and individual LTD policy. I also have an individual policy but it excludes my low back (they do extensive medical review before giving you an individual policy).

    Disability Insurance is something that many people don't think about. But as the years pass and your financial responsibilities change, you may begin to think about the effects a sudden disability might have on you or others that depend on your income.

    The Social Security Administration claims that nearly 30% of working Americans become disabled before reaching their normal retirement age.

    Info on STD and LTD and SSDI:

    *STD pays for any condition that leads you to be unable to work. You have to first meet the waiting period, usually 3-7 work days, during which benefits are not payable (STD is not meant to cover minor illnesses and injuries. The insurance company or third party administrator (TPA) reviews all job and medical information to determine if you meet the policy definition of disabled and for how long. STD can be used for anything such as appendectomy, maternity, broken limb, coma, terminal illness, etc. STD is a short duration. Every policy differs. Some STD policies max out at 90 days, some at 26 weeks and even some at 52 weeks.

    *LTD kicks in after STD has maxed out. If there is no STD then LTD usually has a 3-6 month waiting period before LTD begins. LTD is payable for any condition that prohibits the person from being able to work. Again the insurance company or TPA makes the decision if you meet the definition and often are exhaustive in the review. And the case is reviewed on an ongoing basis even after approved as needed. LTD can be payable for anything including long recovery from multiple fractures after an accident, cancer, pregnancy in which the mother is on bed rest early and maxes out STD, MS, AIDS, spine conditions, permanent hearing loss, amputations, paralysis, etc. Most LTD plans require that if you are out of work for over 6-12 months that your apply for SSDI. If SSDI is awarded the LTD policy likely states that any SSDI benefits are deducted from LTD.

    *SSDI benefits are often less than what an employee would qualify for under LTD. It's based on a formula that takes into account when you worked, what you made, etc. Each year about 1-2 months before your birthday SS sends you a summary of what your retirement benefits would be depending on age you choose to retire. In addition it shows what your SSDI benefit would be if you became disabled in the near future. Right now the maximum is around $2000/mo for SSDI (even if you earn $100,000 a year or more). Compare that to what you get from LTD under your specific plan. Thus even if you get SSDI, LTD will supplement it.

    An example:
    -Employee earns $5000/mo
    -LTD plan is 60% benefit so LTD benefit is $3000/mo
    -SSDI benefit is $2000/mo
    -LTD carrier would deduct $2000 and pay $1000/mo

    LTD and SSDI are not meant to replace 100% of what you made before you went out of work. The expectation is that people would live on the reduced amount and possibly an additional resources.

    This is much of why I have always been financially conservative. When I did claims I saw people who brought in $5000/mo and could not survive on $3000/mo. Needless to say when we bought our house 8 years ago we based it on one income only.

    SSDI can take years to get, even for those severley disabled. Unfortunately the system is dysfunctional and backed up beyond belief. Those out there without LTD can end up without income for years. The advantage of SSDI is that after two years of SS the person can get medicare. Often with LTD medical insurance can end. I'm lucky as my employer places anyone on LTD on the retiree medical plan. Paying more than I was as an employee but less than I would if I was on full COBRA.

    Most LTD plans pay until you are deemed able to recover or until you reach Social Security Retirement Age (SSNRA differs based on the year you were born). The new trend is plans that last only 5-10 years.

    In my case my SSNRA is 67 so if I continue to be disabled I can get LTD until age 67.

    I know this answer is long but if at least one person besides you reads it, and the next job they take they make sure to enroll in LTD (if required to enroll) and buys up to the better benefit...then my soap box stance has been well worth it.

    Thanks for listening
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I'm really glad you explained this! I was totally unaware of how the system worked. I thought if I couldn't work, I would have to quit my job and get SSD, that is if I was eligible. It sounds like it is better to stick with the job until you are unable to work and then use STD and LTD. Is the doctor the person that decides whether you can work or not and then you need to convince the STD/LTD provider?

    On my company's intranet site, in the benefits section, they listed COBRA and retiree insurance. My company doesn't have a pension plan, so what is retiree insurance? Is that for people they've laid off?

    I've been striving to pay off my house. 36k remaining, which is about two more years of payments. I don't have much credit card debt and I did cash in my stock yesterday. I'd rather have the cash in the bank than watch the price go up and down. It's enough to payoff the house and have some leftover. I'm trying to prepare myself for when the time might come.

    Health Insurance is my concern if I don't have a job. Other than my neck problem, I'm in pretty good health. I could always go on my partner's insurance, but I have no idea how that works either. I know my current COBRA payment would be around $430. Crazy.
  • No offense to anyone, but this discussion would be better if it was had in the Health Insurance Topic Area.

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    COBRA is for employees who are separated from employment. Retiree coverage would only be for employees who retire from the company (whatever time/service rules the employer has). Many companies are ceasing retiree coverage to save money.

    I am lucky as my employer provides retiree medical coverage as long as I am on LTD (this is rare, all my years in disability claims I've seen this very few times so I'm very lucky). This costs $400/mo. If my LTD ends then I'd be eligible for COBRA. Many employees on LTD would have to revert to COBRA as there may be no other coverage. But it's hard to know until the time comes. Although you should read up on the Retiree coverage to see if it mentions those on disability may qualify.

    My husband was laid off so I could not be added to his (so he's on COBRA only) but if he finds a new job I will enroll in his new coverage if it saves me money.
    The STD/LTD insurance company decides if the person is disabled. In reality most doctors don't understand what jobs require so all they can say is what you can't do (lift "x" amount, stand for "x" amount of time, etc). Then the disability insurance company evaluates your job requirements in conjunction with the objective medical information provided by your doctors to determine if you are unable to work. But, you must have a physician who is supportive of the idea of you going out on disability. So always discuss it with your physicians if it's even a thought.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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