Topic: BC, workplace accommodations, EEO/discrimination, etc

Forum: Employment, Insurance, and Other Financial Issues — Employment, insurance, and financial concerns are common. Meet others here to discuss and for support.

Posted on: Aug 22, 2018 04:40PM

Posted on: Aug 22, 2018 04:40PM

lumpie wrote:

Many of us have encountered workplace "challenges" while confronting breast cancer. There are a number of threads on BC.org which discuss related topics. I thought it might be nice to have a thread that seeks to share press coverage of these issues on an ongoing basis. Links to "self help" resources may also be valuable. While threads aren't a structured research tool, ideally this could serve as a resource for those interested in the topic or trying to do enough research to gain a basic understanding of how workplace rights and responsibilities may apply to them… at least enough to identify relevant issues, frame a discussion and advocate for oneself. Please share resources that you have found useful. "Lessons learned" may be helpful, too. Thanks!

PS: BC.org offers a "Breast Cancer and Your Job" page here: https://www.breastcancer.org/tips/your_job


"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast
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Jan 5, 2019 12:36PM - edited Jan 5, 2019 12:46PM by lumpie

Hi candy-678,

Good point. The presenter did not go into much detail on what is called compassionate allowances. MBC is covered under compassionate allowances. Long story short, there are a couple of different way they evaluate people who apply for SSD. Most, they do a complex and detailed evaluation of whether the person is able to work, as you describe above. For people with certain diagnoses, including MBC, they never get to that step. If you have the diagnosis, you automatically qualify. It is shown on the flowchart/algorithm - but that is a bit complicated/tedious to work your way thru that algorithm.

Here is the compassionate allowances home page: https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/

Here is the page with the list of conditions, including "Breast Cancer - with distant metastases or inoperable or unresectable"

https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/condit...

Sometimes we "don't look sick" and our status can change from day to day. All of which which can make things confusing.

Hope this info helps!

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast
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Jan 5, 2019 03:25PM - edited Jan 5, 2019 03:40PM by candy-678

Thank you Lumpie.   I know we have talked about this topic before---even PM'd about it.   I am still working.  It is just so confusing. And you hear so many versions of how it works.  The presenter in this video spoke clearly and no he didn't really go into the "compassionate allowances" but he did mention "listings" and the flowchart showed if you were able to work the process stops there and you are denied for coverage.  If I would quit my job ( my choice ) and then apply, wouldn't they ask why I left my employer.  If I said I wanted time with family, etc I could see them saying I COULD work but don't want to and would be denied.  My physician could not state I am unable to work, because I am.  I could see Soc. Security telling me to go to work at McDonalds or be a cashier at a store vs giving me benefits.  It would be great if they really would allow me to qualify for benefits. I have been in the workforce and contributing to Soc. Security since I was 15 years old and I am now 48----33 years working.   And what about the 'out of work for 5 months' thing??  I thought you had to not work anywhere for any amount of time for 5 consective months or more.  The presenter didn't mention that.  Also is the $1,180/month salary you are allowed to have and still qualify for benefits  gross or net pay??     I think they make it confusing on purpose.   Loop holes to deny coverage.  

April 2021 first progression and flip ER-/PR+ now. Current treatment as of Sept 2021 is Lynparza, Lupron (been on since Nov 2017), and Xgeva (been on since Nov 2017). Dx 6/2017, ILC/IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 9/2017, ILC/IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2017 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 11/1/2017 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2017 Dx 4/2021, ER-/PR+, HER2- Targeted Therapy 9/1/2021 Lynparza (olaparib) Chemotherapy AC Surgery Lymph node removal; Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left)
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Jan 6, 2019 01:44AM - edited Jan 6, 2019 01:48AM by lumpie

candy-678, It can be confusing. If you decide to apply for SSDI, assuming you are MBC, the decision about whether you qualify should be made solely on your diagnosis. The law says you are entitled to benefits if you have a stage 4 diagnosis. I have done a fair amount of research and, though anecdotal, it seems that the vast majority of MBC applicants sail right through the process. If you should be denied, there is an appeal process. I have never heard of an applicant being denied on appeal. Again, it is not discretionary. You are entitled to benefits based on your diagnosis. Given that there is virtually no possibility that any of us diagnosed young can expect a normal period of retirement, this entitlement seems appropriate to me. After all, we have paid into the system. (Much like you, I started paying into the system via summer and part time jobs when I was 12. I have paid in for almost 40 years.)

As far as work goes, my impression is that MBC applicants typically are not working at all when they apply. As long as you are earning less than the threshold ($1,1,80 per month), it should "count" the same as not working at all. But like you said, this might raise questions - even though it shouldn't. If you are working and earning more, you will not qualify. If you should choose to apply, you should not need to get into a discussions about family priorities, etc. Even if true, it's not relevant so don't go there in discussions the SSA. If asked, you should focus on your diagnosis and the complications you do face working. For most of us, it is stressful which can interfere with healing, there are challenges arranging time off for medical appointments. We can become so fatigued that all we do is sleep when we have a moment off. Our sub-optimal health may keep us from doing an effective job. And, frankly, some employers may not want us at work for a variety of reasons. But what is really relevant is your diagnosis.

Also, your doctor does not have to "endorse" your application or attest to your inability to work. You just have to show from your medical records that you have the diagnosis. It is my understanding that your doctor does not even have to fill out a form.

You can and should apply for SSDI as soon as you stop working. Here's the five month provision: "If you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, there is a five-month waiting period before {Social Security} can begin your benefits. We will pay your first benefit for the sixth full month after the date we find your disability began."

Remember, you can decide to go back to work any time your health allows. And after you have been out on disability for a certain period, you can return to work under special provisions which allow you to retain Medicare benefits. For a period of time (5 years, I believe), if you find that your health does not permit you to continue to work, you can return to disabled status without having to wait the 5 months again. Many of us would be interested in going back to work either full or part time if we had an appropriate opportunity. Read more about the "Ticket to Work" program here: https://choosework.ssa.gov/index.html

If you have the luxury of time, something to think about before leaving work is your plans for healthcare long term. Most employees are entitled to COBRA coverage. If you leave because of a disability, you can continue your COBRA coverage until you qualify for Medicare after 24 months, but you have to provide timely and proper notice to your employer (I believe it is within 60 days of concluding work - but check carefully). A few lucky people who work for large companies may continue to have access to work-based insurance as a "medical retiree" but this is unusual. Once we qualify for Medicare (after 24 months), in many states, we are not entitled to Medigap coverage so that can leave us on the hook for substantial medical expenses. Check carefully to find out what options are available where you live. It is my understanding that if we qualify for COBRA coverage and later Medicare, then we do not qualify for ACA coverage. But there is some "gray area" there. I found information saying that we may be able to continue (unsubsidized) ACA coverage if obtained BEFORE we qualify for Medicare. While expensive, this could at least provide maximum out of pocket protection - which could be critical if our therapies are expensive.

If you just want some time off but not permanent disability, you might think about whether some FMLA time (up to 12 weeks) would address your needs. Unless you work for a very small company, most employees are covered by this law. Sometimes a disability plan at work would provide income for FMLA time off. It would require a form that your physician has to complete. And different employers handle requests differently, but for some people, FMLA time could allow you to have some time off to .... do what you need to do.... {Side note about workplace disability policies: if you change employers after your diagnosis, most disability (income protection) policies will not cover your time out of work due to pre-existing conditions - even if you are paying premiums.}

I didn't mean to go on so long. But lots to cover here.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast
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Jan 6, 2019 09:22AM candy-678 wrote:

Lumpie-   Thank you for all the information and explaination.   I am able to continue work for now.  I am 'stable' and even though there are uncomfortable times---pain, fatigue, etc.--it is doable.  I think I have decided when there is progression/and change in treatment plan I may revisit SSD application then.  I just pray when that time comes and I stop work and apply I don't get the 'loop hole' situation and they deny coverage. Then I would be out of a job AND no benefits coming.  Really screwed.  I just don't see how so many in the community get disability (SSD) for lesser things--a hurt shoulder, bad back, anxiety. ( Not to simplify their issues, I don't walk in their shoes )    I talk to people and they say "I am disabled and on SSD" and they are running around town, going to activities, etc.  I am Stage 4 and still work full time and afraid will be denied coverage. That Soc. Security will say I can do SOME  type of work and stay in the workforce. I guess time will tell.   I am keeping your posts to refer back to when the time comes for me to apply.  To help me in the application process. 

April 2021 first progression and flip ER-/PR+ now. Current treatment as of Sept 2021 is Lynparza, Lupron (been on since Nov 2017), and Xgeva (been on since Nov 2017). Dx 6/2017, ILC/IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 9/2017, ILC/IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2017 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 11/1/2017 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2017 Dx 4/2021, ER-/PR+, HER2- Targeted Therapy 9/1/2021 Lynparza (olaparib) Chemotherapy AC Surgery Lymph node removal; Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left)
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Jan 6, 2019 01:15PM lumpie wrote:

Gratuitous share: Someone posted this on another site and I am sharing because it is just what I needed!

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." ~ E.M. Forster


"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast
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Jan 6, 2019 03:00PM lumpie wrote:

candy-678 - That sounds like a totally reasonable mindset to me. I have been using a similar guideline: work until progression or some bump in the road that changes my situation. I really appreciate that these posts create a permanent reference that we can share and come back to. Good luck with everything!

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast
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Mar 20, 2019 12:36AM - edited Mar 20, 2019 12:46AM by Kaelia

This Post was deleted by Kaelia.
Dx 10/5/2012, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Mar 20, 2019 02:36AM lumpie wrote:

Follow up to post above:

Stanley Black & Decker Will Pay $140,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit(link is external)

Stanley Black & Decker Inc. will update its reasonable accommodation policies and train management staff, as well as provide $140,000 in monetary relief to a former employee of its Towson, Maryland facility. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had charged the employer with violating the ADA when it refused to grant unpaid leave to a sales representative who needed time off for cancer treatments.

https://www.adainfo.org/e-bulletin/e-bulletin-marc...

https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/03-05-1...


"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast
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May 1, 2019 04:07PM lumpie wrote:

"Need to Know: What Are Disability Laws?"

This article outlines a variety of federal disability laws, including the ADA, that may be of interest to individuals with chronic or invisible conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) {or cancer}.

https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/2019/04/03/need-to-know-what-are-disability-laws/

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast
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May 1, 2019 04:17PM - edited May 1, 2019 04:20PM by lumpie

Trump's Budget Is Full of Cuts Aimed at People With Disabilities

"The Trump administration's fiscal year 2020 budget would make cuts across multiple agencies and offices that serve Americans with disabilities, stripping them of essential resources. Of particular urgency to me and many of my colleagues are the devastating impacts that the weakening of these agencies would have on job seekers with disabilities.

"... on the chopping block... is the Office of Disability Employment Policy. This office, within the Labor Department, is the only nonregulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.

"...any budget proposal by any administration should reflect the goals of the A.D.A.: equal opportunity, independent living, full participation and economic self-sufficiency. The exclusion of any group of people from our economy is not only a problem for those who've been excluded. It's a scourge on our democracy that touches us all."

This opinion piece by Tom Ridge is dated 4-17-2019.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/opinion/disability-budget-cuts-trump.html

(Without subscription, NYT allows a limited number of accesses per month.)

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." "Buy the ticket, take the ride." Dx 2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/14/2016 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/14/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Dx 2017, IDC, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast

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