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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.


Looking for a new job is never easy. Having a serious health  condition or a history of one can complicate the process. However, the good news is that just the existence of a health condition no longer prevents finding a job. As a general matter, prospective employers cannot ask about the health of a job candidate. Prospective employers also cannot ask about genetic make up which can indicate probability of contracting a serious illness in the future.

You are likely to improve the chances of getting what you want, and minimize the number of surprises, if you look for a job as an educated job seeker. For instance, consider the following. (For more information, see the articles mentioned below.)::

  • Before applying for a job:
    • Think about how your current and reasonably foreseeable health condition may affect your work. 
    • Consider what would be your ideal job.
    • Think about the benefits you would like. Start the process by reviewing benefits currently offered by employers, such as health insurance or group life insurance for which no health questions are asked. 
    • Consider whether your skills are up-to-date and whether you have the education needed for the job you want.
      • You can update or learn new skills on your own or by taking courses, many of which are available on line. There may be free state or local programs (generally known as Vocational Rehabilitation) that you may be able to qualify for. If not, there are ways to update skills on the cheap.  
      • The federal government helps all states fund a CareerOneStop center where job seekers can obtain credentials certifying that they possess the minimum skills needed for certain jobs. To find a center in your area, type into your favorite search engine, "CareerOneStop" plus your city and state.
      • Consider returning to school. Education does not have to be costly. You cannot be prevented from getting an education because of your health condition because of the Americans With Disabilities Act and similar laws.
      • To make the most of a retraining program or additional education, start by finding a field that is hiring people and is likely to grow.  New skills don't do any good if no one is looking for them. 
  • It is advisable to prepare as follows before making first contact  with a potential emloyer.
    • Decide who to use as references. Find out what they will say about you.
    • Check your credit. Many employers will check it. It is useful to know what they will learn. (For information about improving your credit score, click here.)
    • Try to get a copy of your personnel files from your previous employer so you will have an idea of what the new employer will be told if the previous employer is contacted. 
    • Let your neighbors and work colleagues (both past and present) know that you are looking for a job. 
      • Informing people alerts you to possible problems. It also lets them know that there is no reason to be suspicious if someone contacts them with questions about you. 
      • Tell them that they might be asked to provide information about you. Remind them that a potential employer cannot ask about your health condition and there is no reason for them to volunteer it. If they are asked none-the-less, it is best if they just confirm a diagnosis and not talk about specific symptoms or what the future could be.
    • Think about what you need to do to look good in an interview.
    • It is helpful to have a resume. Many employers will require it. 
      • Of course, prepare your resume with your best foot forward. 
      • If you have gaps in your employment history because of a health condition, there are different ideas to consider to deal with them..
    • Many employers do an internet search about you before even agreeing to meet. After a meeting, they may do an even more detailed search in addition to checking references and possibly even neighbors. It  helps to do your own internet search. 
      • If you do not want to disclose your health status before you are offered a job:
        • Remove any indication about the condition from your social network pages, such as Facebook.  For instance, if you are a member of a disease specific non-profit or are registered for any of their services, including chat rooms and buddy programs. If there are public references, either take them down, ask the non-profit to block your name, or change the posted name to a fictitous one. If you cannot have the identifying information removed, ask the non-profit to block your name, or change the posted name to a fictitous one.
        • Ask friends and relatives to remove any such postings from their sites as well. Also search on your name on the internet. Look for any references to your condition
      • Add information to your postings that would make you more likely to be hired.
    • Set a block on your browsers to prevent prospective employers from seeing searches for health information or support.
  • When thinking about potential employers: Keep in mind protections from laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • In general, the ADA prohibits discrimination because of your health condition. The ADA also requires that a reasonable accommodation be made if needed to help you do your work. 
    • The FMLA provides time off for medical leave - without pay but with continuation of benefits. 
    • If these protections are important to you, limit your search to larger employers that are covered by these federal laws or similar state laws. 
  • Once you identify the job you seek, there are many alternatives for learning about available jobs.  
    • Alternatives range from the internet, to newspapers, friends and employment agencies.
    • If you are older, consider looking for work through an agency that finds jobs on a temporary basis. Such firms care more about experience than age.  Temp jobs often result in being hired permanently. Also consider buying AARP's book: AARP Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy... and Pays the Bills. Information includes salaries, qualifications and tips for finding jobs on line. 
    • Consider joining LinkedIn ( offsite link). Recruiters and hiring managers do keyword searches on LinkedIn. Be sure your profile:
      • Includes all important key words for your profession and industry so an employer searching for people with those skills can find you
      • Showcases your achievements
      • Is well written
  • Learn how to maximize your chances of acing an interview, including how to act an interview, what to say and not say, and how to dress. For instance, while it is against the law to ask about your health condition,it is wise to be prepared with an answer just in case. It is also wise to keep in mind time tested tips for completing an application and acing a job interview. For tips about an answer, and other tips for acing a job interview, click here. For information about your legal rights during a pre-employment interview, click here. (NOTE: There is no reason to volunteer information about your health before a job offer is made. While as a general matter it is illegal to not hire you because of a health condition, it is difficult to prove. Once you are hired, unless your condition can be harmful to co-workers or others, it is up to you whether to disclose it. For a helpful discussion about that issue, click here.)
  • In addition to the normal facts to consider before accepting a new job, consider the following:
    • The health insurance you need for yourself and/or your family.
    • The other benefits the employer offers.
    • The impact of the new job on your current benefits.
    • Whether the employer is friendly to people with your health condition. This may not be easy to find out. Your local disease specific non-profit organization may know. So may friends, or friends of friends, who work for the company.
    • How much time you will have outside work to do the things that have become even more important to you since your diagnosis.
    • Your  "Real Earnings." Real Earnings reflect what you will really earn per hour as compared to what it appears that you will earn. To calculate Real Earnings, take into account the expenses you will incur with respect to the job that you wouldn't otherwise have to pay. "Real earnings" also involves all the time that relates to work, such as commuting to and from. We have an interactive tool to help you determine Real Earnings.
    • To help determine whether a less than perfect job offer works for you, read Evaluating A Job Offer.
  • Keep track of your search related expenses.  They may be deductible from your income taxes.


  • If you have been unable to work because of your health condition, and are willing to disclose this fact to a new employer, you may have an advantage over other applicants because of a tax credit offered to employers who hire people with a "disability." To learn more, see: Work: Employer Tax Credit.
  • If you know other people who are looking for work, consider forming an informal club to help each other. Together you can share ideas, leads that you may not be aware of or have overlooked, and generally support each other. It does not have to be other people with your health history, or any health history, and they do not have to be in your field to be helpful.

For additional information, see:

How To Block Employers From Seeing Where You Have Been Searching

It is possible for other people to get a record of the sites you go to (browse) via your computer, tablet or other device because of the cookies left from the sites you visit. This can out your health status if you go to several disease related sites or on-line support groups. You can block this from happening by setting your browser appropriately on each device you use t o access the internet.  

Each browser has a different procedure for blocking people from seeing where you search. For example:

  • Internet Explorer: use "InPrivate Browsing". 
  • Google Chrome: use "Incognito". 
  • Safari and Firefox: use "Private Browsing."

NOTE: If you use Facebook: There is free software to stop Facebook from tracking you as you browse the internet. For example, Facebook Blocker offsite link.

Internet Social Networking (such as Facebook and Linked In) and Searches: Cautions And Tips

Before applying for a job:
  • If you do not want to disclose your health condition to a prospective employer, do your own search (or ask a knowledgeable friend to do it for you) to find and remove any mention of your health history. 
    • It is advisable to type your name into at least Google and Bing  ( offsite link and offsite link respectively). 
      • Of particular concern are the entries that show up on the first page. If items appear that you cannot change, consider the following steps:
        • Go to the primary source to ask for a change. 
        • Try to push positive content to the top of search results. One way to do this is to create your own web site using your name as the domain name if available. (A popular site for this purpose is WordPress offsite link). Another way is to blog in your area of expertise or provide insightful comments to online articles you read.
        • Get help from companies which help fix what people say about you. For instance, offsite link
    • If your name comes up as associated with a disease site, (including any of their services such as chat  rooms or buddy sites): you can ask the organization to remove your name, or change what the public sees to a fictitious name. 
    • Also check all social pages on which you may show up such as Facebook. 
      • Even if your security settings are at the highest level, there is no assurance that your postings will not be seen. In addition to obvious areas to check such as your telling friends about your illness, keep in mind that if a batch of your friends indicate they have the same serious health condition a potential employer may conclude that you likely also have the same health condition. If this fits you, consider making your friends list private.
      • Also keep in mind that the Facebook "Timeline format" makes it easy to search back through your old Facebook posts. You can hide Timeline posts. Hold your cursor over the post, click the pencil icon that appears in the upper-right hand corner. Then click "Delete" or "Hide from timeline."
    • If you cannot scrub your name from the internet as connected with a health condition, be prepared to explain how it will not affect your ability to do the job or your long term prospects. 
  • Do what you can to modify information about yourself on the internet to make yourself more like the person you think an employer would want to hire. For example, It helps to be part of a site which relates to your occupation. 
    • Professionals would also do well to register on LinkedIn.
    • Make your profile as attractive to prospective employers as you can without lying. 
    • Make frequent updates.
    • If your work involves contact with people outside the employer, try to get as many links as you can that help show an extensive network.

Additional tips:

  • On sites with a "like" button: Be aware that each time you click a "like" button, you note your interest in a subject on Facebook. 
  • Set up a Google Alert offsite link of your name to monitor the internet for each time your name is added. You will receive an e mail each time the search engine finds a new entry with your name.

Government Programs To Help Learn New Skills

There are government training programs to help learn new skills.

  • To find out about training programs in your area, contact your local government employment agency or visit the Labor Department's web site:  offsite link In the "Popular Topics" section, click on "Training" for a list of state-run programs.  Note that programs are not limited to training workers who want a job with an existing business. Some programs provide training for people who want to start a business.
  • To learn about Vocational Rehabilitation programs, click here.

When you find a program: check eligibility to see if you qualify. Most programs are not restricted to laid-off workers.

NOTE: Consider how you will continue financially until you get a new job, including maintaining your health care coverage and covering medical and other costs that are not covered by health insurance.  For tips that can help, see How To Deal With A Financial Crunch Or Crisis.

References 101

References: Identify current references to provide to a prospective employerThe more respectable the people are, the better. Preferably include at least one person to whom you reported in a previous job.

Check with each reference before using their name to be sure they are agreeable to acting as reference for you, and that they will give you a good reference. If you detect the slightest hesitation, whether about your health condition or for any other reason - thank them, but don't use them as a reference.

Let each person you do use as a reference know:

  • If you would like a particular part of your work experience or qualifications emphasized.
  • If they know about your health history, and you're not going to disclose it to a prospective employer before a job offer is made, be sure to tell them to keep the information confidential. If you have disclosed your health history, your reference should tell the truth. It would help if they would emphasize that in spite of your health condition, you were able to do your job.
  • To let you know if they were contacted, and what was said.

Thank people who act as references. In addition to it being good manners, you may need them again in the future.

Neighbors and Work Colleagues: Even if you do not use them as references, it is advisable to tell neighbors and work colleagues, past and present, that they might be asked to provide information about you because you are looking for a new jobThis kind of heads-up helps avoid suspicion. It also alerts you to possible problems.

You can also let them know that potential employers cannot ask about your health condition.  However, you can also suggest that if they are asked, it is okay to confirm the general diagnosis. You would prefer that they not provide any details about symptoms etc.

Former Employers:  As a general matter, most employers are concerned about potential liability and will only confirm that you were an employee and possibly the dates you worked. However, some will tell more.

Check with the human resources department of your most recent employer to find out what kind of information will be provided in response to requests about former employees.

If an employer will give personal information, ask for a copy of your personnel file to try to get an idea of what will be said.  (You may even be entitled to one under state law.) This gives you an opportunity to prepare a response.. For tips about getting your personnel file, click here..

If you fear that an employer may give you a less than glowing reference, consider sending the employer a letter indicating that you do not want any information provided other than your dates of employment and your salary.

How To Learn About A Prospective Employer's Benefit Plans Without Disclosing Your Health Condition

When trying to learn about a potential employer's benefits, the first step is to a look at the employer's web site, if there is one. Most large employers describe their benefits on their web site. If you had previous health insurance, and the gap between jobs is no more than two months, you don't have to be concerned about whether the new employer's health plan excludes coverage for previous health conditions or includes a waiting period for coverage. For more information about this subject, see HIPAA.

If the web site isn't helpful, contact the employer's Human Resources department and ask for a description of the benefits that go with the job which you are considering. So an employer doesn't think that if you apply for a job, you are only looking at the benefits (and not what you can contribute to the company), it is preferable not to use your own name. If the job is unique so there are likely to be few applicants, try to describe the job by its type so you learn about the benefits for that job level instead of the specific job.

You can also ask any people you know who are or were employed by the company.

If all else fails, you can apply for the job, but not accept it until you learn about the company's health benefits. 

How To Do A Background Search About Yourself

Assume that a prospective employer will search on your name in at least one of the popular search engines. To learn what the interviewer knows, type your name both with and without your middle and/or maiden name into the popular search engines to see what comes up. For instance, use Bing offsite linkDogpile offsite linkGoogle offsite link and Yahoo. offsite link 

If more than one page comes up, review all of them, or at least the first 10 pages.

Particularly look for any references that could indicate your health condition, such as a posting on your Facebook page about participating in a relay race for a specific disease.

For the future, do not assume that whatever you put on line remains private. It probably doesn't.  


  • Let your family or friends know not to post your full name on line in a setting that would indicate your health condition.
  • If your health condition comes up, it is possible to hire a service such as offsite link to either cleanse the reference or move it so far down a listing that an employer is not likely to find it. Keep in mind that even such services have a difficult time changing the high ranking of content in such sites as Facebook or Twitter which usually appear near the top of a search.


Deductible Expenses To Keep Track Of When Job Hunting

Certain expenses related to your job hunt are deductible from your taxes. 

Deductible expenses include the following whether or not your job hunt is successful:

  • Employment-agency and career-counseling fees.
  • Want ads.
  • Telephone calls.
  • Printing, typing and mailing resumes.
  • Travel when the primary purpose of the travel is to look for a new job. According to the IRS: The amount of time you spend on personal activity unrelated to your job search compared to the amount of time you spend looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job.
  • Meals and entertaining.

In order to be deductible, the amount that you spend for job search expenses, combined with other miscellaneous expenses, must exceed a certain threshold. To determine your deduction, use Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. Job search expenses are claimed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction.

NOTE: The above expenses are not deductible if:

  • You are making a career change 
  • You are seeking your first job.
  • If there was a substantial break between the end of your last job and the time you begin looking for a new one.

To Learn More

More Information

Real Earnings