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Need advice - Short term disability for mental health?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone. I have a bit of a pickle. A good friend of mine (yeah yeah, I know what you're thinking, but it really is a friend) is considering taking some time off from work because of a lot of things going on in her life. She's an engineer, she's put on about 50 pounds in the last year because her mother is in and out of rehab for alcoholism and it worries her sick, plus she hates her job (she's in biotech and there's a lot of pressure in that field). I'm worried sick about my friend, because now she is having thyroid problems and her cycle is completely off. I think she probably needs to take some time off, but I'm afraid that taking a medical leave would leave a severe scar on her record. I dont know anythign about this stuff, so I was wondering if you guys could give me some advice that I could trickle down to her? (I've told her to go veg like me and to come exercise with me, but she has so many doctor appts, like 4 this week alone!) I guess what I need is info about short term disability if anyone has experience with that. thanks a lot and have a great day!!
post #2 of 8
Do you live in the US? I am *not* an expert on this, but the Family and Medical Leave Act provides some protection to your friend if she has been in her job at least a year and if some other conditions apply. Check out the link below (especially the employer section). They have some good, concise info. http://www.nolo.com/lawcenter/index....AB18960A6EAB0E

However, if she's really concerned, she should probably talk to a lawyer.

I'm not really sure what you mean by leaving a "scar on her record." Do you mean with the current job-- like, hurting her chances for advancement? Or future employers finding out? Current and future employers are not allowed to discriminate against people who have disabilities. I don't think that a future employer would be able to (legally) obtain her health info without her consent.

Probably the biggest risk she would take is that her co-workers, if they knew why she was taking leave (and I doubt she'd be required to tell them), would think about/treat her differently. Hopefully this wouldn't be the case, but of course it's possible.

Money is going to be an issue, though. Can she afford to take unpaid leave?
post #3 of 8
If she wants to take some time off and get short-term dis benefits, she'll have to have lots of documentation from a doctor that work is too stressful, blah blah blah. It can be done, but I know that it is much harder to get the insurance company to accept a claim for a mental health leave than for an injury.

She should check with the benefits department at her job and/or the insurance company before making any decisions.
post #4 of 8
A note about FMLA--if she is going to take FMLA, her leave MUST be labeled as such BEFORE the leave starts--otherwise, it's just a leave of absence and most employers won't let you take a random leave, especially since FMLA came about.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
She said that her office told her to take short term disability if she could get medical justification, but the woman there is apparently very mean and doesn't "see why" she needs time off. Thanks for the links, I'll forward them to her. I'm really worried, I'm afraid that even with the time off that she is just going to get more depressed and jaded and lose motivation towards her career. I know she wants to find a new job, I was thinking that she would have much better chances finding something if she was currently employed, rather than off for short term disability! she also can consider the family medical leave thing, but she wasn't sure if that would keep her health benefits (I think it must, what an awful thing if they were cut!) I think she can afford a few months off but I guess i'm skeptical that this is going to be the cure-all that she thinks it will be. thanks alot for the links, i'll check them out. any more advice is also appreciated. you guys are the best, thanks so much!
post #6 of 8
Her benefits package may also include disability insurance so that if she takes disability, she would still get some of her income.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
They do actually, she'd get over 80% of her income if she did that. I'm just worried cause she has taken a lot of sick time and the like and I know this will kill her career at this company cause they already consider her unstable. and in biotech good references are really important, and this was her first out of school job (thats why i'm worried about the scar on her record). She's going to al anon meetings now and lots of psych appts but i'm just afraid she is neglecting her body in favor of her mind. she needs to work for both, because now her poor health is aiding to her woes. another option she has is to get an ankle surgery and go on short term for that, it will keep her out for about 3 months, but i think that will just worsen her weight problem.

thanks for letting me vent btw guys. i think it helps just to be able to talk and know that others care and listen.
post #8 of 8
She would get to keep her benefits during FMLA provided she goes back to work for at least 1 day after the leave (or has a medical reason keeping her from working beyond that time and the company has some kind of long-term disability plan in place or something). If she doesn't go back, her benefits will probably be canceled retroactive to her first day of leave or the first day of the month following her leave or something to that effect, which means any medical treatment she has during that time, she's required to pay for herself.

If she can get medical justification for mental-health disability, she will almost assuredly be required to see a psychiatrist or therapist in order to get the std benefits, so hopefully she'll be able to get the help she needs.
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