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Colorectal Cancer: Advanced

On Disability

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If you are receiving a disability income, look at the rules to find out what constitutes work so you do not unwittingly break any rules and lose your income.

Returning to work will be easier for you and others if you stay in touch with former co-workers while not working. 

  • Keep co-workers informed about your situation and progress.
  • Talk to them on the phone, send a text or email, or appoint a trusted friend or family member to do this for you. 
  • When you are able, stop in the office. 

Before you return to work:

  • If there is a question whether you are physically and mentally able to work, consider volunteering  -preferably in a situation which helps get skills up-to-date, or perhaps to volunteer in a new area of work you are considering. As mentioned above, check to be sure that disability income will not be affected even if you volunteer from 9 - 5.  For more information, see: Volunteering.
  • Consider returning to work part time for a while to get back into the swing and not overtax yourself.
  • If you have been out of work for a while, think about what skills may need to be updated. For instance, learning the latest computer program, or the newest version of a program you are used to using.
  • Think about who you want to tell about your health condition and/or treatment, and how much you want to tell. Be prepared for a variety of responses.
  • Talk with your boss about what you can and cannot do so you are both on the same page. Your boss may assume that you will be able to resume where you left off and resume a full work load right away.
  • The thought of returning to a full workload of regular responsibilities can be overwhelming. If emotions begin to get in your way, speak with your doctor or a mental health professional.
  • Consider visiting the job ahead of time to catch up with co-workers and office news.
  • See: SSDI: Return to Work

Keep in mind that:

  • The only question is whether you are mentally and physically able to work now. What may happen in the future is not relevant. 
  • If you would prefer to work for another employer, job lock because of a health condition is a thing of the past. New employers cannot ask about your health condition thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar laws. Thanks to a law known as HIPAA, if a new employer's health plan has a waiting period for pre-existing health conditions, the amount of time you have previous health coverage can count against that time period as long as the gap between coverages is no more than 62 days.

When you return to work:

  • Let people know how you want to be treated. For instance, you may still not be able to work a full schedule, or you may need help accomplishing certain tasks, or you may need an accommodation such as being stationed close to a bathroom for a while. If you need an accommodation, you may be entitled to a reasonable one. Even if you are not entitled to it, you can negotiate for it. See: Work: How To Request  And Negotiate An Accommodation
  • Let people you work with closely know that you are not up to par yet either physically or mentally. They may expect you to be back to your pre-diagnosis self and performance right away.
  • Tell your boss about continuing physical or mental difficulties you are experiencing as a result of the diagnosis or treatment. Ask for an accommodation to help you do your work. You are likely entitled to one under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Start keeping a Work Journal in case you ultimately feel as if you are discriminated against because of your health condition. See: Work: Time Off Because Of Health
  • People may need to be reminded that cancer is not catching or that you are not dying.
  • People who return to work after treatment often become the "go to" person when a co-worker or a friend of a co-worker has any type of cancer. If this happens to you, set limits and let people know what they are.
  • If you have difficulties, read: If The Attempted Return To Work Is Not Successful 

Consider whether this is the time to become self employed or to start your own business. See:

NOTE: Survivorship A to Z also provides information about how to keep disability income. For instance, your rights if an investigator calls. See Disability Income Insurance: While On Disability

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