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Explaining Disability in an Interview
Oct 31, 2002

I have been on disability since February of 2001. I am planning to go back to work next year. I am in IT and have been working on my certifications while disabled. I went out with PCP. I was planning on explaining my disability by saying I had a bad case of pnumonia, went out on disability and then had trouble coming back because of the economy and decided to pursue my cert during the down time. Does that sound wise? How else could I explain so long out of work.

Am I still considered as an employee for my former employer? They are still providing me some benefits and I am still on their books. Would it be appropriate to say I worked for them through the end of my disability?

Thanks so much for all your help. Sometimes navigating these insurance/workplace issues are scarier than dealing with the virus.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Oh, you are so right--the insurance/workplace issues can be scarier than the virus itself. I'm glad you wrote.

Your absence from the workplace was a result of a medical condition. Your medical information is confidential. You are under no obligation to disclose your diagnosis to a prospective employer, or even that your absence was caused by a medical condition.

If I were you, I would explain that I took an extended leave from the workplace to deal with a family medical situation and took advantage of that absence to work on my certifications--so here I am, more qualified than ever.

As to your employment status with your former company, I confess confusion. If you are truly an employee, is there some reason that you're not a returning employee? Were they providing your benefits, or was the disability insurer providing your benefits (there's a difference)? It sounds as though you'll be looking for a new job, in any case.

I would not advise stating that you worked for your former employer through the disability period. New employers do check on former jobs, and the first thing your former employer would state (and probably the only thing) would be the beginning and ending dates of your employment. They would count as the end date the date on which you went out on disability.

Best of luck to you, and remember to focus on what you bring to a new job rather than on the gap in your resume. You used your down time very wisely.


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