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Short Term Psychological disability
Jul 25, 2000

Hi, I have been positive for over 4 years. My current viral load is less than 40 and my tcell count is 900. I am taking Sustiva, Lomotil, and Combovir for the HIV. I have also been seeing a psychiatrist for over a year for depression. Some of it is HIV related and some of it is not. I am taking Paxil, ambien, and valium for the depression/anxiety. My job is very stressful and I am expected to work 50+ hours every week. I just do not seem to be able to deal with the stress of work, my HIV, and all the drugs I have to take. I do not know what to do. I cannot quit due to the loss of my health insurance.

My psychiatrist has suggested that I apply for "Psychological Disability". I have worked for the same company for 18+ years and was working there when I became positive. We have both Short term and Long term disability as well as a 1-800 number to call to self identify as being disabled. Should I self-identify my HIV status? Also, how does "psychological disability" work? I am terrified about applying for it. I am afraid that I will be turned down and then possibly fired after my bosses find out about my mental problems and possibly even my HIV status. Any advice is appreciated. I do not know how to proceed.

Response from Ms. Franzoi

I don't understand what you mean by "self-identifying as being disabled." Is this how one would apply for short or long term disability benefits in your company? Your application for disability benefits and the reason for applying is confidential information. I am assuming that the 800 number is a direct line to the insurance company. Therefore, your employer would not know of the nature of your illness.

Typically, disability plans limit benefits for disability that is due to a mental or nervous disorder to 24 months. You should review the summary plan description for your long term disability plan to see if there is this type of limitation on a disability that is due to a mental or nervous disorder.

Lynn



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