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how to approach returning to work issues after years of disability
Jun 2, 2001

Big problem, Many HIV+ people are now feeling fine and enjoying stable health thanks to HAART. People who were once on their "death bed" with 4 T-cells are now strong and ready to take the step off of disability. They feel they are physically capable of returning to work but do not now how to approach the interview question of "So... your resume shows a large gap with no employment history...what exactly have you been doing for the last five years"? Of course, no one wants to disclose their status. There seems to be no clear cut solution... and with a disability income no one can afford a career consultant to help them through this... Suggestions to help people with this impossible scenario? not to mention the myriad of other problems that they may encounter (i.e. losing Long Term Disability and related non-SSA benefits permenantly).

Response from Ms. Franzoi

This is a problem that anyone who has been on disability for an extended period of time encounters in attempting to return to the workplace. However, the only answer is to be honest. I would state that I had been out of work due to an extended illness and now had a doctor's release to return to work. Emphasize the expertise and experience you have with respect to the job you are applying for, arm yourself with examples of how you performed in prior jobs, be confident in your response, not apologetic, rehearse in front of a mirror, have a firend "interview" you and practice response, etc. The disability insurance is important. Most disability policies have a requirement that if you beomce disabled during the first twelve months of coverage for an illness you had during the 90 days prior to coverage, that illness is excluded for the first twelve months. Although you wil see some changes in this provison in the future, they are not here yet (but could be as soon as September in some policies). Check your disability policy for a residual disability benefit. If it has one, this will assist you in the transition back to the workplace.

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