Question re: Short Term Disability/LTD...does anyone know?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by TerryS, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    Right now, I have a full-time job. My doc has put me out on STD for an indefinite amount of time why I recuperate from whatever this is and try to get my diagnosis. My ENT and the neurologist that I saw this past Friday both think it's CFS due to symptoms and my labwork showing chronic Epstein Barr Virus. I see a rheumatologist this Friday and am having an MRI this Thursday.

    Anyhow, initially I was thinking that if I got to where I felt good enough to work "part-time" that maybe I could do that. I know my STD will remain in effect through the insurance company and that the insurance company will continue to cover me on a pro-rated basis.

    However, I got to thinking...if I went back part-time, could my employer then say "you're part-time and no longer get benefits"? I know the STD/LTD can't drop me while I'm on it, but if I ever came off of disability (like when my doc decides I should be able to work) then I would no longer have disability benefits available should I become disabled down the road.

    So, my question is - does anyone have experience with this? Is it more than likely that my employer would officially consider me part-time and drop my benefits? If that's the case, seems I should not go back to work until I can definitely work full-time again.

    Any thoughts?

    [This Message was Edited on 09/18/2006]
  2. TerryS

    TerryS Member

  3. mezombie

    mezombie Member

    You might want to consider telling your workplace you are reducing your hours on your doctor's advice, not that you're going part-time. The word "part-time" could trigger some problems.

    Then you might want to check with your boss, and have your boss check with your Human Resources Director about the impact of this reduction in hours on your benefits. Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your boss and he/she can advocate for you with HR.

    I would definitely get any decision that's made put in writing. That way there is no debate over your employment status and whether you'll continue to get benefits.

    I had a similar situation. I cut back on my hours and used my sick leave, then my STD, for the hours I wasn't able to work. Everyone in my department could tell I was sick, so I didn't get any flak for this from them. I did, however, get some from HR, because "no one had ever used STD this way".

    My employer self-funded their STD, so no insurance company was involved. That allowed my company to make decisions regarding STD.

    I continued to accrue benefits as if I was full-time.

    My ability to work any hours dwindled to the point where I absolutely couldn't work, so I took a leave of absence and applied for LTD.

    HR did not want to grant me a leave of absence (unpaid), so my boss, also a director, went to bat for me with the HR director. Luckily, she backed down.

    I think the fact that I was unable to work full-time due to illness made a big difference. Had I cut back on my hours or taken a leave of absence when it wasn't absolutely necessary, I think I would have been treated differently.
    [This Message was Edited on 09/18/2006]
  4. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    Where I work there have been many who have come back to work shorter hours and then the STD covered the difference in time to full time. They were not considered part time employees. If you work less than full time but your benefits pay the gap to full time then you should still be considered a full time employee.

    If you get better and go back full time, then you should have no problem with getting your benefits. If you go back part time, I'm not sure what would happen. Where I work, we get STD if we work at least 20 hours a week.

    Definatly talk to someone in your human resources about this.

    Good Luck!
  5. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    I guess I'll talk to HR as a "what if" scenario. I don't see my PCP again until 9/29 and he's the one that put me out on leave; so, I have a little bit of time to play with and figure out what to do in the event I'm well enough two weeks from now to go back to work.

    I keep thinking that this "flare up" or whatever will pass and surely I'll be working again...and I sure want to make sure I don't mess up my disability benefits.

    This is my fifth week being out of work. Just HOW LONG can a person feel like all the energy's been sucked out of them, be short of breath with any little exertion, unable to sit up for more than 20 minutes at a time, dizzy on and off all day, and in pain?

  6. foggygirl

    foggygirl New Member

    If you tested positive for mono, I'd recommend that you don't "push-it" and end up worse off. I had mono, and being the Type A personality that I am, ended up with this CF/FM hitting me big-time. If there is anyway you can stay off work, at least until you are back to normal, you might ward off future health problems, STD problems.

    Good luck,

  7. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    The positive chronic Epstein Barr is from my cytomegalovirus in 2002 (cousin to mono). Never fully recovered since having that. The past four years, I've done absolutely NOTHING but housecleaning, no laundry, no cooking, NOTHING!

    Now, I can't even work. Well, I do manage now to clean up the kitchen once a day, at least, and sometimes do a load of laundry. That's something I never had the energy before when I was trying to work.

  8. TerryS

    TerryS Member

    You're right. I just looked again at the scale (actually two different ones). I would say that since 2002 I've been generally running around 50-55%, and now since August anywhere from 20-35%. I guess the best I can expect is to get back to 50% since that was my starting point.

    My plan definitely has a two-year mental illness/depression limitation, so thanks for reminding me about that. I'll make sure my doc doesn't put anything about my depression (yes, I'm mildly depressed) as my "disabling diagnosis".

    My LTD actually starts on week #13 (I'm in week #5 right now). I was reading through some paperwork they sent me. Apparently, once it's decided I can perform my job (which is sedentary) on a "full-time basis" then my benefits stop. So, doesn't look like I'm OBLIGATED to accept part-time...I just feel so guilty that my co-workers are having to work so hard to try to keep the natives happy.

    I FINALLY will see the rheumatologist this Friday. And I'm having an MRI by the neurologist tomorrow. I hope to not have too much of a delay in getting my diagnosis, and I pray that the rheumatologist is very knowledgeable of CFS and will support my disability claim on an ongoing basis.