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Any Experience With Short Term Disability?


iheartcats
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Hi,

With worsening symptoms and recommendations to get in a cardiac rehab program, I may be needed to use my Short Term Disability benefit through work. I've known people who've used this for maternity leave, but that's it.

Has anyone had to do this? I think the only way to fully concentrate on treating myself is to have time off to do my rehab, appointments, etc. That can be 3-5 times a week easily, I've been told.

I'm wondering what kind of 'resistance' I'm likely to meet from work, how much my doctor has to reveal (you and I know POTS is a serious illness, but many others just don't understand). I'm not mentioning this at work until I'm ready to go into rehab (have to get approval through insurance and acceptance in a local program, etc, which may take a bit)>

Thanks in advance!

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I used STD a few times for POTS during my career, when things got very bad. Before finally having to leave my career of 23 years in 2007. My workplace was always pulling for me to get better. I was in a very special place. They even made special arrangements to let me work some of the time from home. But in the end I was still going downhill year after year, and the job was getting bigger and bigger by the moment!

In my case, when an employee took STD it was paid by the insurance company. In terms of bottom line payroll budget, that saved the college pretty much my entire salary while I was out. So there certainly wasn't any resistance from the administration. The staff that I supervised however all needed to pitch in and cover tasks during my absence. So depending on what kind of gap you leave behind, that may give you a sense of where you might meet some tension.

Take care of yourself!

~EM

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i used STD several times during my short career in the full-time workforce & neither time was i ever given a problem aside from having to have the requisite paperwork turned in & the like. it's a bit different at different places of work, but as E.M. mentioned most all STD is paid through a third-party insurer rather than your actual employer so other than the "cost" of your not being there to do your work (obviously not to be minimized) the dollar-for-dollar cost is paid by a third party. there may be some exception to this somewhere but generally speaking if the employer is still paying the days off are still called "sick days"; the term "STD" in & of itself generally represents the transition to the third-party payer/ insurer. which may be something you already know/ knew &/or don't care about anyway. so moving on....

at my workplace anytime someone missed more than a week (5 days) of work in a row it automatically "became" STD leave, so under that context i was on STD twice. the first time i did know/ plan on doing so in advance; in my case i was having surgery (indirectly related to an injury from a fall down a flight of stairs due to syncope years before) & knew that i would be out of work 4-8 weeks per the surgeons' expectations & prognosis for my recovery. things went as planned & i was able to go back part time after 6 weeks & full time a week later or so. the way the STD worked at my office was that it couldn't be arranged/ approved in advance. obviously with a planned surgery i had let my boss, supervisor, colleagues, etc know what was going on so that i attempted to wrap up loose ends with things i was handling at work & whatnot, but the official STD approval couldn't happen until i actually missed my "more than 5 days". a bit odd, but the formal way things worked at my office & how i know it works at a good number of places. i don't remember the exact details but it entailed our (me or my mom aka caregiver post-surgery) keeping in touch with the HR rep at my office & when i was out past the 5 days paperwork was automatically sent to my home address for my doctor to fill out which i was readily able to get doen at my first follow-up appointment. having since done a LOT of disabilty-related paperwork over the years, not only for myself but for others, i can attest to the fact that it was pretty straight-forward, simple, painless, etc. obviously any paperwork is a pain to some degree, but all in all the STD stuff wasn't really too bad. and if i remember correctly the first several days (perhaps even weeks) of the STD was paid out, with the stipulation that they could technically take it back, even before they received any official paperwork from my physician(s). i never had any problem with approval, though of course surgery that's deemed necessary is one of the most clear-cut things out there, not to mention that having a neurosurgeon do all the paperwork, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, adds another level of validity to whatever's going on. so that was "use #1."

the 2nd time i was on STD was unfortunately the beginning of the end of my working life. that time it wasn't planned so i unfortunately left many loose ends for my boss & fellow workers...obviously not the ideal, & not something i would have done had i had any choice in the matter. that time i was actually hospitalized emergently (in the middle of a work day at that) & while initially i only used a week or two of my STD & tried to return to work, in less than a week i was again hospitalized and while at that time i never anticipated that i would never be able to return to work "when i got better", that never came & my STD became LTD & here i am several years later. one thing that is worth pointing out from that part of my story is that despite my return to work for a short while after my first hospitalization (& several weeks off), when i had to leave again it fell under a specific time period that meant it was counted as a continuation as my initial STD leave rather than a new/ separate leave. different policies/ companies will have different specifics re: the number of days out, back at work, etc but what i'm getting at is that while people generally think of STD being used for one big chunk of time, many of the policies can also be used for several periods that all fall within a specified time range. not sure if this might be something that would be worth looking at for you somewhere along the line but thought i would mention it.

along those lines i would HIGHLY SUGGEST that you get a copy of the ACTUAL POLICY for your STD policy. not the one-page description or the ten-page summary but the ENTIRE policy, which is probably hundreds of pages. you might get a bit of a run around before you can get your hands on it but you have a legal right to it & any hassle that anyone gives you is likely due to the fact that they don't know themselves where to get it & don't want to be bothered finding out &/or that they don't want to bother with copying or printing out that many pages or something else that, in the big scheme of things, doesn't matter at all. you really should have a copy. i've worked in the insurance field myself & there's no reason that everyone shouldn't have the full print-out of any & every policy you have, be it disability, health, car, etc. and best to have it BEFORE you really need it (i.e. are in the middle of filing a claim). just a friendly pointer to you & anyone else that might be reading....

one more thing worth mentioning is FMLA leave, which is likely to kick in for you if you use your STD. not everyone realizes it but your using STD leave doesn't mean that FMLA won't still kick in as well. i'll leave it at that for now but if you have any questions on that &/or how the two work together let me know. in addition to personal experience with their use (both myself & my mother as a caregiver for me) i have also done academic research on FMLA for graduate school so know more about it than anyone would ever want/ need!

i'll be honest with you that i don't know how open/ easy STD will be in your situation. i certainly would encourage you to look into it - it's there for a reason - and it sounds like your doctor(s) is supportive of you taking the time off which is HUGE b/c it means that s/he will be much more likely to fill out the paperwork in a way that makes it much more likely for it to be approved...obviously not a guarantee but you'd be surprised how much difference that one factor makes. something else that might be looked at - though i'm not sure - is how much your illness has already affected your ability to work, i.e. have you had to miss work, get there late, etc? it's not a necessity but if there's "proof" - sick days you've had to use already, conversations with your boss/ supervisor re: difficulty making deadlines, getting to work late &/or leaving early, etc - that your health has hurt your ability to work in recent weeks/ months, it can't help the "argument" that making your health a priority is a worthwhile thing for them to take a chance on with the hope/ intent that giving it more attention in the short-term will make it less of a hindrance in the workplace moving forward. obviously we all know that there's no guarantee re: what the rehab/ time off will do for you health-wise, but it doesn't need to be a guarantee for it to still be a logical argument for the sake of STD coverage. if per chance your workplace has NO clue about your health situation/ struggles, you might want to make them aware of it now in a way that makes them - or at least your supervisor/ boss - aware of the affect your health is having on your ability to work &, as such, your value as their employee. if they don't know that you're having any trouble then they're less likely to be supportive of your taking leave to improve your health as they won't be aware that there's a problem that needs improving.

hope this helps (& good luck with your decision!)

;) melissa

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earthmother: that was positive, the one benefit is my workplace hasn't been extremely busy due to the economy!

sunfish: i am currently on FMLA. i've had to take about 1/4 of it so far...they make me turn in anticipated fmla time each quarter, but i am listed as intermittent so i can take a day for an emergency situation/bad flare-up. how will this affect my taking an 8-12 week chunk of STD? i'm afraid if i use up the rest of my FMLA on STD, i'll be in trouble as i won't have any more time off for my illness. should they have mentioned STD for when i was out longer than a week once?

also - my work is aware because i used up all vacation and sick time for POTS (all but one day this year)...so i had to go on FMLA. i'm doing my best, they know this, and my boss has been decent about everything.

i'm hoping to get better so i can keep working (i really need to)...but i'm getting to the point if i don't take time to focus on my illness and treatment, i'm not going to get better/even get worse. my doctor is supportive and thinks a strong rehab program will help me and i'll need to focus on that for 8-12 weeks in addition to adjusting meds during this time. if rehab is a few days a week, i'm likely going to be exhausted the other days and am fairly certain i wouldn't do well (or make it in some days) to work. i need to focus on getting better.

if the STD eats the rest of my FMLA though, i don't know where i'll stand with appointments and time off.

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well, i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but chances are great that your taking STD WILL in fact use your FMLA as well. while your employer DOES have the option of not counting STD days toward FMLA, in reality i've never heard of an employer not counting STD (or sick days or LTD for that matter) as FMLA. so while i can't say 100% it's a high likelihood & i wouldn't want to mislead you or have you caught offguard thinking otherwise.

re: the "more than 5 days off" issue as it relates to STD, that's something that's very individual & specific to each company & their/ your STD policy so just b/c that was the guidline/ rule for me/ mine it does NOT mean that it's the time after which STD kicks in for you. another reason why it's a good idea to get a copy of the full STD policy, though the point (number of days) after which STD becomes an issues should be readily available information that is available to all employees at any time (& at the point of making decisions re: benefits) via your HR department &/or rep.

while i'm of course sorry to hear that your health has been so tough as it relates to work, speaking from an objective viewpoint as it relates to the possibility of being approved for STD that actually bodes very well b/c, as i was saying in my earlier post, no one that knows you can turn around & say "but she's already healthy, working at the best of her abilities w/out health constraints, etc" as they know full well that you've been struggling. i hear what you're saying re: the concern about using your FMLA now so obviously that's another issues in & of itself, but looking "just" at the STD the fact that you've already been using your intermittent FMLA & whatnot speaks well for the STD being approved.

last but not least, while obviously this is a decision that only you (with your family, doctor, etc) can make, all that you've said does push me to encourage you to do what you need to put your health & well-being first. i know (trust me, i've been there) how hard it is to make any sort of decision that could endanger your job in the future, i.e. using up your FMLA now & not having it for later, the little bit that you've shared makes it sound that if you keep pushing there's the chance that working might become an impossibility anyway such that, if there's anything you can do to take care of yourself in order to get to a better place health-wise why wouldn't you do it? i am NOT trying to be negative in regard to your not being able to continue working but am only trying to reflect back what i heard you saying via your reply. nor am i trying to minimize the difficulty of a choice that would "eat up" your FMLA. so if i sound harsh in any way no that it's only with good intention. you obviously have tough decisions to make in the midst of a situation that is full of details that aren't within your control. if i were you i'd probably do some fact finding (getting a copy of STD policy, finding out if STD & FMLA are counted/ used up concurrently, etc); it may or may not make your decision easier or harder but at least you'll be as informed as possible which, as least in my experience, tends to help in even the most difficult of situations....

hang in there & feel free to let me know if i can help in any way as you proceed (like if you need any help figuring out any of you STD policy if/ when you get it). and know that whatever decision, as long as you think it through (as you obviously are), will be okay and that, no matter how insurmountably difficult the situation seems that life will go on....

B) melissa

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At my place of employment they ran STD concurrent with FMLA. Once I was out, the clock always started ticking. However in my case, I think I pushed myself too hard to get back and then once I was back I kept on pushing. Until finally the decision was no longer in my hands at all and I simply could not get my body to push any further.

My mother is also disabled, has been for more than a dozen years if I recall. And the one thing she always told me as I started to go down hill was to take a leave of absence while I still had the chance. She feared in her case that she worked past the point of no return and has suffered a much diminished life in terms of her physical ability than she would have had she heeded her body's wisdom. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I can look back now and see that I failed as well to take the time to heal when my body was in a position to be receptive to healing.

Salubrious,

~EM

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