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LTD Application Process
Dec 26, 2002


I have been positive for 15 years. During this time my t-cells and v. load have always become worse. My current t-cells are 110 and my v. load is off the charts - began new cocktail last week, the last one I haven't already been on. As a teacher in the inner city schools, a very stressful job, I have become multi-drug resistant, for HIV. Using my voice all day, I have reoccuring ulcers in my throat which make it impossible to teach, as well as the many side effects of all the medications taken over the years. During the past month I have lost 15 lbs., and sleep most of my evenings and weekends.

I have night sweats, bloating, diarrhea, cramps, restless leg syndrome, chronic low fever, and of course a bit depressed by all of this. Over the past few years I have had to take a nap right after work, being so tired after work. This year I had to take naps during lunch to make it to the end of the day, and then again when I get home. As mentioned earlier, today sleep takes up most weekends.

It seems the only thing to do at work is plan for as many videos as I can find, doing anything else requires more energy than I can muster.

My question is qualifying for LTD. My doctor says that I am a good candidate. It's clear my health is not improving, in fact, it continues to decline, however, there isn't any real life threatening illness. I do feel it is time to stop work, I feel guilty not working at the performance standards of my past, and the students are not getting the best! I also feel that the stresses of the position are in some part also causing my health to decline. Fighting HIV and fighting and the politics of teaching is just too much.

What advice can you give to make the LTD application process a positive outcome on the first try. Any examples would be helpful. I've been of the family emergency medical leave for two months, the application for LTD is due in three weeks.

Thanks for all you do, for all of us!


Response from Ms. Breuer

Mark, You are so right. I'm nodding in response to several of your statements. The only one you haven't made, that I'm looking for, is that your health is your first priority now. Yes, you're a good candidate for LTD. Are you seeking Social Security Administration designation of disability, or are you seeking to make a successful application to your employer's LTD carrier? I'll assume it's the second. I recommend that you seek advice from three experienced sources: 1. a benefits specialist at your local ASO who does this all day. 2. in confidence, the seniormost person you can reach in your own human resources department who submits these claims to the LTD carrier. 3. the carrier itself. Ask what characteristics a successful claim has, what common errors applicants make and how you can avoid them, and ask whether you can call this person back for advice during the process. Create allies, Mark, in all three places. I wish you well, and thank you for the work you have been doing. We need more people like you!

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