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Time for Disability?
Aug 11, 2005

I am a 46 year old banker who has been HIV positive for twelve years. I have been on various medications for HIV over the years and have developed type II diabetes. Due to the diabetes and meds, I have fairly sever peripheral neuropathy in my feet. About three years ago I had a stroke which left me paralyzed on my right side. After a day, the paralysis subsided and I recovered from the stroke without any rehabilitation therapy.

I am currently undetectable with a CD4 count of 465, but the medications have taken their toll on my overall health. I wake up fatigued and throughout the day, it gets worse. I don't have any good days anymore. It is very difficult to concentrate and as I push myself to go on, I get dizzy spells and find it unsafe to drive. The neuropathy gets worse through the day to the point it is hard to walk in the afternoon. I take the maximum dosage of medication for the neuropathy, but it doesn't help much anymore. I don't feel depressed, but my family doctor has per scribed an anti-depressant.

I have discussed disability with my family doctor and he agrees that it is time. According to him, he doesn't believe anyone would dispute the fact that I qualify for disability given my circumstances. I don't have any savings and LTD at work has a 90 day elimination period. I would have no choice but to file bankruptcy, given my financial circumstances. Having done that, there would be no going back to banking, since I am an officer and bankruptcy is a big no-no. I was fortunate to get this job 20 years ago since I have only a high school education.

I don't know what to do since I know I can't continue to work physically, but if I am denied benefits, I could easily end up on the street! I know you cannot offer any guarantees, but I need your advise. Should I attempt to obtain disability now or try to stay on and hope my employer doesn't terminate me for incompetency?

Response from Ms. Franzoi

This is a difficult question to answer. If your doctor feels you are disabled and would qualify for LTD and after 5 months Social Security disability, you should consider going out on a medical leave of absence. However, I think your doctor would be the best judge of whether or not you will qualify for LTD as he will have to complete the medical evaluation portion of your LTD application. What is your company's policy for a medical leave of absence under FMLA? You might have sick pay or vacation pay that you could use to subsidize your loss of income during the 90 day waiting period for LTD. I encourage you to discuss this with your HR department.



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