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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.


Returning to work after time off because of a health condition can have psychological as well as financial benefits. It can be powerful to feel like a productive member of society, able and willing to work.

At the same time, returning to work can be a scary prospect both emotionally and financially, particularly if you have been out of work for an extended period of time. Even a seemingly simple decision such as whether or not you are ready to return to work can actually be quite complex.

Since so many people re-enter the workforce before they are ready and regret not thinking through the consequences, we urge you to take your time to evaluate what's best for you. Job skills, resumes, interviews, benefits, salary, disclosure, and discrimination can all be issues with the potential to complicate a return to work. We recomend that you take the following steps before returning to work. 

Step 1. Test whether you are ready to return to work.

Step 2. Identify your ideal job.

Step 3. Consider whether to update your skills. Depending on the work you've decided to pursue and the length of time that you have been out of the workforce, your skills may need to be updated. If so, low cost sources of help are available. To learn how to update your skills on the cheap, click here.

Step 4. Decide whether to return to your previous employer, go to a new employer, or perhaps become self employed or start a business.  For ideas to consider to help make the decision, see: Do I Want To Return to My Previous Employer, A New Employer Or Do Something On My Own?

Step 5. Consider the effect that a return to work will have on your finances.
Step 6. Consider the effect that a return to work will have on your benefits.
Step 7. Think about what would happen if you have a relapse and have to stop working.

There are also steps to take before and after returning to work to make the transition easier.

If you decide to look for a new job, see: Work: Seeking New Employment.

How Would A Return To Work Affect My Finances?

A return to work will affect everyone's finances differently. However, there are some common elements to consider in addition to whatever may apply to your particular situation.

Consider the following:

What will your income be compared to what it is now?

  • Compare what disability income you're receiving now to what you will receive if you return to work.
  • Keep in mind that in many cases, people returning to work start at lower salaries than they made when they went on disability. What would your situation be? 
  • You can get an idea of what a salary should be for a person who has not taken a break from web sites such as the following:
  • Keep in mind the information on these sites is only a tool and does not necessariliy reflect the job market at the moment you're looking or what a particular employer pays.
  • Be sure to think of the "net" - not just the amount of your paycheck. For instance, think about taxes and other deductions.  

What will the difference in your expenses be?

  • The only expenses that spring to mind that will be lowered by returning to work are the costs of benefits that an employer may pay for. (See the next section about benefits.)
  • On the other hand, expenses may increase. For example:
    • Expenses that may be waived now because of your disability that you will have to start paying again if you returned to work. For instance, if you are not paying life premiums because of a waiver of premium for disability, you will likely have to start paying premiums when you go back to work.
    • The cost of commuting to and from work.
    • The cost of clothes you require because of your work (both to purchase and maintain)
    • Other costs you wouldn't incur except for the job (such as the need for a vacation to deal with the stress.)
    • To get an idea of costs that you may incur that you wouldn't normally think about, see Real Earnings

What will happen to your benefits?

Look at your current benefits, and what will happen to them, as well as the costs of benefits you can obtain by returning to work. To learn more, see Return To Work Effect On Benefits

What will happen to your debt?

  • If you are in debt, a return to work can change the way your debtors view you and/or your situation. If your creditors have been giving you a break because of your disability, this may change with a return to work. If you have amassed debt as a result of your condition, consider reviewing your financial condition with an experienced financial planner or a credit counselor to know what your options are and what you can expect. To learn more, see Credit and Debt.
  • For some tips for living on a reduced income, and some budgeting ideas, see Spending Less.

Do I Need To Update My Skills?

Depending on the work you've decided to pursue and the length of time that you have been out of the workforce, your skills may need to be updated. If so, low cost sources of help are available. To learn how to update your skills, click here.

Do I Want To Return To My Previous Employer, Go To A New Employer, Or Perhaps Become Self Employed/Start A Business?

If you've decided that a return to work makes sense medically and financially, you can now move on to thinking about what you would like to do. That decision involves three steps:

  1. What do you want to do?
  2. Do you want to do it for an employer or for yourself?
  3. If for an employer, your former employer or a new one?

For information, see the article(s) that may relate to your situation:

How Would A Return To Work Affect My Benefits?

Consider how a return to work will affect your benefits such as your health insurance coverage. How benefits will be affected depends on whether:

If you've been on leave under the Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you need to give notice to your employer prior to your actual return.

If you have been receiving an income from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), check out the incentives they include to return to work, as well as the impact a return to work has on your SSDI and/or SSI income. 

Return To Work: Before And After