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HIV Dementia & The Workplace
Feb 4, 2014

I have been infected 26 yrs and asymptomatic until I has recently diagnosed with HIV Dementia. I have completed both ADA form and submitted them to my employer. What rights do I have if any?

Response from Mr. Chambers

First, I need to clarify that you are hoping to continue working. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to help people with disabilities continue working. It usually takes the form of requesting "reasonable accommodation" at work so you can continue to work. While you and the doctor can request a specific "accommodation" such as a less stressful position or fewer hours, etc. it is up to the employer to decide what reasonable accommodation he/she will allow, if any.

As admirable as it is to want to continue working, often the reasonable accommodation results in lower pay. This can become an issue in the future if you have to leave work on disability as disability benefits from work are based on what you are earning at the time the disability starts. I'm pretty sure lower salary would be the case since a diagnosis of HIV related dementia would probably force you to take a lower, less stressful, less responsible position which would almost certainly result in a lower paycheck.

If I misunderstood your question and you are asking about leaving work on disability, let me know. That's a different animal that usually involves the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Finally, if the dementia is progressing, I would encourage you to document that. Your neurologist may want you to meet with a neuropsychologist who can conduct a neuropsychological evaluation which will put some relatively objective numbers on your condition which will facilitate you receiving disability if and when you apply for it.

Good luck, Jacques



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