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Topic: MBC and disability

Forum: Stage IV and Metastatic Breast Cancer ONLY — A place for those managing the ups & downs of a Stage IV/metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Please respect that this forum is for Stage IV members only or those posting on behalf of a Stage IV patient. There is a separate forum for Stage IV Caregivers/Family in "Support and Community Connections".

Posted on: Jan 24, 2014 07:29PM

qtrmstrwife06 wrote:

Does anyone have experience with being on disability?  I've never been on disability and working is getting harder and harder.  I don't like the idea of it, but feel like maybe I should start thinking about it.  My employer can only put up with so much...I have at least one appointment a week and absolutely no leave time left.

Dx 8/18/2011, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIA, 3/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 9/13/2011 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right Surgery 10/13/2011 Lumpectomy: Right Targeted Therapy 11/25/2011 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2011 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 4/8/2012 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Lymph node removal: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Radiation Therapy 5/19/2012 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/15/2013 Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, Nipple reconstruction Hormonal Therapy 2/28/2013 Dx 4/19/2013, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 4/19/2013, ILC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 5/29/2013 Brain Targeted Therapy 6/30/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 6/30/2013 Tykerb (lapatinib) Dx 11/24/2013, ILC, <1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 11/24/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 12/20/2013 Brain
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Jan 24, 2014 07:35PM EnglishMajor wrote:

No experience but can you clarify...

are you talking about stopping work all together and going to SSDI? 

Or  do you mean short or long term disability? 

You may also be convered under Family Medical and Leave Act (not paid time off but employer must reasonably accommodate your appointments) and Americans with Disabilites Act (can't be fired for having cancer; company generally must be larger than25 employees, tho). 

Please clarify and someone can answer.

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 24, 2014 07:48PM qtrmstrwife06 wrote:

I guess I mean SSDI or something similar.  I started reading some things and got confused.  There are so many different things to look at.  I am possibly looking at stopping work all together.  My employer has been wonderful, but I'm getting to the point where I'm not an effective part of the team since I have to miss so much time and I don't feel like it's too fair to them to keep doing that.  I know that my cancer is a qualifying condition but I don't know any particulars.  Like, is there a certain amount of time you can be on disability?  Now that I've had the metastasis, as you know, the appointments are endless and I'd at least like to be armed with some information before even contemplating disability as a viable option.  I'm sorry that this answer is all over the place...

Dx 8/18/2011, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIA, 3/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 9/13/2011 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right Surgery 10/13/2011 Lumpectomy: Right Targeted Therapy 11/25/2011 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2011 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 4/8/2012 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Lymph node removal: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Radiation Therapy 5/19/2012 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/15/2013 Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, Nipple reconstruction Hormonal Therapy 2/28/2013 Dx 4/19/2013, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 4/19/2013, ILC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 5/29/2013 Brain Targeted Therapy 6/30/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 6/30/2013 Tykerb (lapatinib) Dx 11/24/2013, ILC, <1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 11/24/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 12/20/2013 Brain
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Jan 24, 2014 08:10PM EnglishMajor wrote:

I will give a general answer and ask other to chime in.  I will caution that this is my best guess and not the definitive answer.

Ask your HR person for a copy of your benefits booklet. If you feel comfortable with the HR person and that person is competent, you  might discuss this with them.

If possible, it is probably best to get on your company's short-term disabilty or long term disability plan--because you'd get a larger benefit.. Generally with STD/LTD you are getting a good percentage of your normal salary. Your SSDI benefit is probably not going to be huge. SSDI has a compassionate allowance and approval could be expedited.

In terms of LTD and STD, here's how one plan explains it:

Under the terms of your disability income insurance policy, you'll have to wait for a certain period of time after you become disabled before you can begin receiving benefits. Some policies (typically short-term policies) even offer two waiting periods--a shorter one for accidents, a longer one for sickness. Waiting periods under short-term policies generally range from 0 to 14 days, depending on the terms of the policy. Waiting periods under long-term policies are longer, ranging from 30 to 720 days, although a 90-day waiting period is most common.

If you suffer a disability, you'll receive benefits until you recover or reach a certain maximum. By definition, short-term disability policies may pay benefits for up to two years, although many policies pay benefits for only three months, six months, or one year. But long-term disability policies pay benefits for a far longer period. 

If on the STD/LTD the insurance company  will work to get you on SSDI after a certain peroid.

I'm sure there are people here who can offer a clearer response/the benefit of their own experience. 

On a related note, depending on your life insurance policy and needs, the  "Accelerated Death Benefit"  might be an option. A life insurance policy ordinarily pays benefits to a beneficiary after a policy owner dies. Those benefits are accelerated if they are paid directly to a chronically or terminally ill policy owner before he or she dies. Check with your insurance agent or company to see if your policy includes or offers the option. Group policies for term or permanent life insurance may also provide accelerated benefits; check with your benefits administrator. (Often it pays to contact the company directly, some administrators don't know about this clause.)

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 24, 2014 08:41PM Lauriesh wrote:

You can file for ssdi online or go in person to a local office. If you go online, you can see what your payments will be.  If you have young children, they will also get payments.

You can be on disability the rest of your life. There is no limit. 

3/2005 stage 2, 7/2010- liver mets. Er/pr- her2+
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Jan 24, 2014 09:02PM Bon_ wrote:

as said, don't quit your job until you've gotten all your benefits from it such as the life insurance accelerated benefit and STD/LTD as Katherine/EnglishMajor wrote about. Yes MBC is on the compassionate allowance list for SSDI. Also consider the health insurance coverage, COBRA into your plans. So many others on here have great advice on it with their experiences. I went on SSDI after diagnosis but was not working at the time.

Bonnie - bco sister since 2008, rejoined 2012, thanks for the memories, laughs, cries and all the in between. Dx 3/15/2008, IBC, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 3, 4/18 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2014 04:43AM pajim wrote:

Katherine has it right according to my knowledge.  I did all the reading about my company's plans when I was diagnosed (still working full time so I haven't carried it out).

You should go the company's route first.  You go on short-term disability for six months (usually).  Then when you can't come back to work you go on their long-term disability plan.  May not be the same insurance company.  The long-term disability company will likely help you apply for SSDI and take that out of their insurance benefits.

The real kicker -- and what you absolutely NEED to talk with your HR about, is your health insurance benefits.  At my place we are fully insured through short-term disability.  Once LTD kicks in one goes on COBRA, or applies for SSDI insurance benefits, or as she put it "we keep people on our insurance on a case-by-case basis".  Since I have the veritable king of medical insurance, losing it would be a blow.

If you really feel you might not want to work, why not try STD?  That gives you six months to figure it all out.  All that's required is your MD to sign some paperwork.

I hope there's someone competent in your HR office with whom you can discuss this.

Dx 4/20/2008, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 1/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2/1/2013, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 2/26/2013 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy 3/7/2013 Bone Hormonal Therapy 4/21/2013 Faslodex (fulvestrant)
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Jan 25, 2014 05:56AM chris1959 wrote:

I went on ssdi just after I was diagnosed and I applied online then told my drs  office and they had all the paper work readyand everything went thru very smoothly .but I was not working at the time so do not know about the insurance thru work part .I did have a phone interview and started receiving checks soon after that . hope it helps .it is confusing .

Dx 10/2011, 5cm, Stage IV, 23/30 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 10/26/2011 Mastectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary, Left Chemotherapy 11/4/2011 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 7/18/2013 Bone Chemotherapy 2/9/2014 Xeloda (capecitabine) Surgery 2/18/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery 3/18/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Radiation Therapy 6/20/2014 Bone Chemotherapy Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Gemzar (gemcitabine)
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Jan 25, 2014 05:56AM JillThut wrote:

Definitely look into  short term disability first.  I believe on my policy it was 6 months.  I'm pretty sure I could have gone back to work for two weeks and been entitled to another 6 months of std.  It's been a long time so I don't remember all the details.  I think I was out for 4 months initially then went back as long as I could..about another 4 months...then received 6 months of short term disability again.  I received ltd and Ssdi at about the same time.  If you can work at least part time and your current employer cannot accommodate part time hours for you, you might also be entitled to unemployment compensation.  Medical insurance is the hardest expense to keep up with on Ssdi income since you're not eligible for Medicare until after 2 years of Ssdi.  But perhaps you have a spouse with medical insurance making that a non issue for you.

bone, liver and brain mets Jill Dx 10/6/2009, Stage IV, mets Dx IDC, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2014 07:00AM cmhartley wrote:

I had private long-term disability that I've been on pretty much since my recurrence in 2009.  It is the best thing I ever did.  It was time to really focus on myself, my healing and my life.

Keep us posted

Katie

Original Diagnosis: 3/08/2005 Stage IIb IDC, ER+, PR-, HER2-, 3/11 nodes positive; Recurrence 10/22/2009 extensive bone mets; 11/20/2010 diffuse liver mets; 1/2013: grade 4 liver cirrhosis, portal hypertension and esophageal varicies Chemotherapy 4/4/2005 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 10/3/2005 Mastectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary, Left Hormonal Therapy 9/22/2009 Dx 10/22/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, 3/11 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 1/14/2010 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy 2/28/2010 Aromasin (exemestane) Targeted Therapy 5/14/2010 Avastin (bevacizumab) Chemotherapy 5/19/2010 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 3/21/2011 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 6/30/2012 Xeloda (capecitabine) Chemotherapy 2/12/2013 Halaven (eribulin) Chemotherapy 12/5/2013 Gemzar (gemcitabine) Radiation Therapy 1/1/2014 Brain
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Feb 2, 2014 10:12AM qtrmstrwife06 wrote:

Wow ladies, you've given me so much to think about!  Thank you so much!

I enrolled in either short or long term disability insurance at work, but I don't remember which one.  I've been paying into it for over a year now.  I'm pretty sure that I could keep working, but I keep having recurrences of the brain mets and I'm now waiting to see about some bone problems.  I feel like I'm wasting the time I have left!  I have excellent health insurance through my husband so that's not a problem but I just feel more and more like I'm wasting my life at work.  Is that selfish?  

Dx 8/18/2011, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIA, 3/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 9/13/2011 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel, Right Surgery 10/13/2011 Lumpectomy: Right Targeted Therapy 11/25/2011 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2011 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 4/8/2012 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Lymph node removal: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Radiation Therapy 5/19/2012 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/15/2013 Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap, Nipple reconstruction Hormonal Therapy 2/28/2013 Dx 4/19/2013, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 4/19/2013, ILC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 5/29/2013 Brain Targeted Therapy 6/30/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 6/30/2013 Tykerb (lapatinib) Dx 11/24/2013, ILC, <1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 11/24/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Radiation Therapy 12/20/2013 Brain
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Feb 2, 2014 10:32AM EnglishMajor wrote:

Hell no! You are totally justified, this is exactly when STD/LTD and SSDI exist.

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 14, 2014 03:11AM mkahle wrote:

I just filed for SSDI in January and found out I was approves a few days ago.  Here's what I've learned to be truth since there's so many stories out there and you never know what's accurate. 

Being diagnosed with a terminal illness, we automatically qualify. The approval process is typically expedited for stage 4 cancers. It takes 5 months from your date of disability (date you last worked) to start receiving payments.  You cannot apply for your children until after you start receiving payments. You are not eligible for Medicare until 2 years after your disability date. You can still receive sick pay from your employer as well as disability as long as you're not working. Each state has a family max that can be paid each month. Ours is around $1,600. So if I receive 1100, then my kids will split about 500. 

My personal story: I was pregnant when diagnosed in March 2013. I am a teacher and stopped working in mid March. I received sick pay while I was off.  I went back to work in August 2013 until December 2013.  Now I'm off again and receiving sick pay again. Because I haven't resigned,  I still have my same insurance. Because I tried to go back to work and realized I just couldn't do it, social security calls this an unsuccessful work attempt. Therefore, they are setting my disability date as March 2013. This means I will soon be receiving back pay from September 2013 to present (remember it takes 5 months from disability date). Your disability date is your date you last worked. Not your date of diagnosis. I just happened to "get lucky" if you will with my unsuccessful work attempt. I had no idea that even existed until a few days ago.  When I do eventually resign, I will have to decide on insurance. I can either join my husband or buy separate. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. Hope this helps! I know when I was trying to decide,  I was reading a lot of conflicting info and didn't know what to believe. 

Dx 3/28/2013, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 4/15/2013 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 12/22/2013 Bone Hormonal Therapy 1/6/2014 Chemotherapy 3/9/2014 Xeloda (capecitabine) Chemotherapy 6/1/2014 Halaven (eribulin) Surgery 10/12/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Chemotherapy 10/23/2014 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel)
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Feb 14, 2014 04:18AM Lauriesh wrote:

I just wanted to add, that in my case, I did not have to wait until I was approved to apply for my kids. A local rep called and got my children's info, and they received their first check the same month that I received mine.  Maybe this is something that varies by state, I am in Minnesota .

Laurie

3/2005 stage 2, 7/2010- liver mets. Er/pr- her2+
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Feb 14, 2014 05:23AM Romansma wrote:

Yes, Laurie, my experience was the same.  Once I applied for mine, a rep called to take my children's app.  I just received my first payment this week, along with my kids.  They do require an account with your kids name on it to make deposits to.  One more thing, the waiting period was 5 months from when I stopped working which made me eligible as of January 1st.  However 1st payment wasn't till 2/12.  That was about 6 1/2 months because of how they pay for the previous month.  Just wanted to mention for planning purposes you may want to put away a little more than 5 months.

Hope Dx 10/22/2010, ILC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, 9/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Chemotherapy 11/1/2010 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Chemotherapy 4/1/2011 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) Radiation Therapy 6/8/2011 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Surgery 11/29/2011 Prophylactic ovary removal Dx 8/2013, ILC, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) Hormonal Therapy 9/17/2013 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Targeted Therapy 1/25/2014 Afinitor (everolimus) Radiation Therapy 2/11/2014 External: Bone Chemotherapy 12/6/2014 Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 2/20/2015 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 2/20/2015 Ibrance (palbociclib)
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Feb 14, 2014 05:57AM Lauriesh wrote:

I didn't need a separate account for my kids. They put my 3 kids payments into the same account that they put my payment in.

3/2005 stage 2, 7/2010- liver mets. Er/pr- her2+