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Disability/Reduced work schedule

dogloverddoglover Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Chronic Pain
My partner is dealing with chronic back pain and neuropathy down her leg. It has been especially acute since she had a slip and fall at work in December.

She's having trouble getting through a full workweek. Her boss will not let her work from home one day a week, since he thinks he would then have to let everyone do it.

So she's at the point of wanting to temporarily reduce her work schedule. Ideally, I think she should work half time, and have her disability insurance (liberty mutual) cover the other half. She's even trying to just get a 20% reduction, unpaid.

The problem is, her doctors refuse to write her a note allowing her to reduce her work schedule. Both her primary care physician and her pain management doctor say they just don't do that. They are basically saying pain is not a reason to not go to work. I guess since she's still able to walk, they think she should keep going, because being active will help her heal faster I guess. What is the point of dragging into work every day if she has to spend half the day lying on her office floor?

So we are at the point of looking at switching doctors. To do so means switching medical groups, since she has an HMO. So it's kind of a to-do, and I want to make sure we are making the right decision if we go that route.

So I guess my question is, is there any reason to expect anything different from a different set of doctors? Have a lot of people run into this issue? Part of the problem may stem from the fact that they still don't have an exact diagnosis for what's causing her pain. She had an L5-S1 fusion 12 years ago, and the discs above it are degenerating also. But they haven't come out and pinpointed what is causing the nueropathy. She's having some nerve testing this week, that we're hoping will give us some answers.

Anyway, just wanted to get a consensus on whether others have had issues with getting a reduced or flexible work schedule ordered by doctors.



  • Maybe she could just do a consultation with a couple of docs before swithcing entirely? Or, perhaps it is a matter of trying a new doctor in a different specialized field? (For example, a neurologist versus a primary care physician). Good luck in your search!

    I'm not sure where you live, but I lost my job when I didn't recover fast enough and ran out of FMLA. Your partner may need to seek legal advise. It could be that the employer should accomodate her under the Americans with Disibilities Act. Diclaimer- I'm not a lawyer but just speaking from my own personal experience.
  • Hi; and i agree with NaptownGirl.

    I think she will get better results on her accomdations she needs by going to a specialist.
    Neuroligist, or a neuro or ortho doctor.
    Should be able to find one in your HMO network.

    Best of luck to ya.
  • She has a Pain Management specialist. She was finally referred to a neurologist last week. That's who ordered the nerve testing.

    The PM doc and her PCP are the ones that are refusing to allow her time off work. She hasn't asked the neurologist yet. Maybe she should try him?
  • Yes, try the neurologist. They tend to be more understanding about these things.
  • Welcome doglover (love the name, I too am a dog lover) to Spine-Health.

    I think that seeing a spine specialist who can more understand the limitations we face with spine problems is the way to approach this. Be it a neuro or ortho, just make sure it's a spine specialist, someone who understands spines like no other kind of doc can.

    Absolutely have her ask the neuro and let us know what he says. Hopefully she'll be able to get some rest and get back to feeling better.

    Take care, and again, welcome to Spine-Health.
  • as a lot of you know i teach and have had back and pain issues for over 10 years and 4 back surgeries. i just went to my ortho and neurologist and they wrote a list of accommodations that work had to follow, ie, no climbing stairs, can't stand or walk for long periods of time, ortho chair provided by work, you get the point. i think if drs see you are trying to work and also have accommodations, they might be more accommodating at work.if you just say i have pain and i can't work, they get suspicious. it has to be backed up by a dr and if dr does not want to do it get another one and take all test results, x-rays, disographies, results of surgeries, and mri's and show him. the more the merrier as far as test results. unfortunately the sign of times is that drs think patients are trying to scam them, especially back patients. so come prepared. dr notes, and test results, along with accommodations can't hurt. back injuries are hard to prove especially at work,they are the most common reason to go out on disability so watch out.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Perhaps rather than approaching it from a time off of work or working from home standpoint, she should approach it as one of the others suggested, getting accomodations to make her more comfortable while she is at work, whether it means getting a different chair, desk, support pillows, etc. I've done a lot of that for my work and automobile on my own dollar to avoid making such a big deal of my pain issues with my employer. I don't want to give them any reason to be concerned about whether I can perform my duties 100%, so I grin and bear it a lot of the time and do what I can to make myself as comfortable as possible when I'm working. It is hard enough to tell them that I have yet another surgery approaching and will need to work from home for one month while I recover.
    Getting up and taking short stretch breaks and even just walking down the hall and back have helped me as much as anything. I get up at least once per hour if not more.
    Hopefully your partner can find a way to make it work without having to resort to disability.
  • Her disability insurance is going to be difficult regardless of what doctor she sees - if she feels comfortable with her current doctor get a lawyer to try to deal with the disability. I'm afraid if she goes to a new doctor - she may be subjected to a lot more tests and/or invasive procedures which may or may not help...maybe the EMG will give some answers.
    Anyway, my advice would be don't change medical care because of disability or legal reasons - see the doctors that she believes will be the most understanding and compassionate.
    Regarding switching out of an HMO - check with her employer - normally there is only a one month period out of a year called an "opt-in" period when she can change plans...I think anyone with ongoing neck or back issues is better served by a PPO, you end up paying one way or another.
  • when i had accommodations through work, at first i brought all test results, mri, cat scan, nerve conduciton test, disography, x-rays, proof of cortisone injections the whole ball game. along with this, i had a dr note that he wrote al my accommodations on. the dr worked along with the pain dr and by reading all test, they determined what i could and could not do. if it has been a while since your tests or surgeries, then i would go back and have all of these done again. on my previous posts, i believe i mentioned this. do you have copies or have you done all of these tests? if not than that is why they might be hesitant to write you a note.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • If you can get documentation of your disability and recommended accomadations the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) would apply and your employer would need to make "reasonable" accomodations. Going on permanent disability is a long tough process and you usually need a lawyer to get it through Social Security. It can take anywhere from a few months to many years to prove a permanent disability where you can't work.
    It is tough sometimes to be in pain and work, it's worse to be in pain and unemployed or just sitting at home.
    My dad has been on disability for over 30 years and if you asked him today he would have continued to work. He was a machinist and quit after he had 4 level fusion in his lumbar region. Not working and in pain put him through hell as he didn't have anything to occupy his time, he turned to alcohol, thank God he has been sober for over 20 years otherwise he'd be dead. What saved him was taking up a hobby of wood carving.
    Best of luck to you.

    Best of Luck to you.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
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