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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Do I Take Sick Leave or Vacation Time First?

Think of Sick Leave and Vacation programs as extension of your pay check. Generally:

  • You receive both full pay and your normal benefits during these periods.
  • There is no question whether to hold your job for you. The risk is very slight that an employer would even think of taking away your job if you take vacation or sick leave.

Sick leave is the first benefit to use when taking time off for a medical condition -- unless it means telling your employer about your condition before you want to.

  • Your salary continues.
  • Your benefits continue.
  • Sick leave is not vested: if you leave the company, you usually don't get compensated for the time.
  • You generally can't carry sick leave from year to year so you lose it if you don't use it.

Postpone using vacation for medical reasons unless absolutely necessary.

  • Your vacation time is vested so you are entitled to be compensated for it even if you don't return to work.
  • However, some employers may require you use it after sick leave is used up.

If you need more time than you're entitled to, ask co-workers if they will give you some of their vacation time. It's little cost to them and enormous benefit to you.

What If I Have Sick Leave, Vacation Time and A Continuation of Income While on Disability?

In addition to Sick Leave and Vacation Time, you may be entitled to an extension of a part or all of your income for a period of time if:

  • Your employer carries short term disability insurance (either because of a state law or voluntarily) or
  • Your employer continues salaries for people on disability from its own funds

Generally, short term disability insurance or similar voluntary programs last for up to six months.

To maximize your benefit, if your employer allows it:

  • First take sick leave.
  • Then receive the continuing income.
  • Then take your vacation time. Your vacation time is vested: you could take your vacation time or be paid for it if you return to work. If your disability becomes a long term disability and you leave work entirely, you will receive a check for your vacation time.

Some employers require employees to take vacation time before receiving a disability income. In that case, take sick leave first, then vacation time, then the disability income.

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What If I Have Sick Time, Vacation Leave And A Right to Take Time Off Under The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

Generally, employers insist that you take sick and vacation leave as part of your FMLA/Medical Leave of Absence leave.

If you have a choice:

  • Take sick leave first.,
  • Then the time off under the FMLA.
  • Last, take your vacation, or get the money for it.

On the other hand, if you need the income, vacation time would have to immediately succeed the sick time.

What If I Have The Right To Leave Under The Family And Medical Leave Act And A Medical Leave Of Absence?

Usually a Leave of Absence and leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act run at the same time.

In both, your income does not continue, but your benefits do. Generally your job is held for your return.

If you have a choice, take the leave that runs the longest. Generally a leave of absence runs longer than the leave required by the FMLA.

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What If I Have The Right To Leave Under The Family And Medical Leave Act And A Medical Leave Of Absence and A Short Term Disability Benefit?

  • Take Sick Leave first.
  • Then the short term disability benefit.
  • Then the vacation, if the employer allows it.

Leave under the FMLA and a Leave of Absence runs at the same time as any short term disability benefit.

What If My Employer Says I'm Not Entitled To Leave Under The Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA) And My Employer Doesn't Have A Leave Of Absence Policy?

If you are not covered under FMLA or a similar state law, you are at the mercy of your employer's policy about people taking off work due to illness.

Some employers don't have a formal policy, others are lenient and still others will terminate you before your sick leave has expired.

If the employer has no written policy on medical leaves, ask around to see if there is one or what the employer has done in prior cases.