Here’s another topic touched on in Chapter 12, Show Me The Money, but I could easily dedicate a whole blog series to it (and I will), because it is one of the top stressors for anyone dealing with cancer.
One of the hardest things for an able body and minded person to do is to accept that they are technically “disabled”. Even if it’s meant to be a temporary situation like a broken leg or hip replacement. Whatever the situation, most of us are too proud for our own good, tend to get in our own way and make matters more difficult than they need to be. Case in point would be me. I had every intention of continuing to work full time at my job (with the help of remote access) during my expected 12 months of treatment. It took one determined doctor, several nurses, family members, good friends and one incredibly angry boss to convince me that was not really an option. My doctor knew the forms by heart and so did the people at work who handled the HR stuff so I sat back, signed what they put in front of me and voila. Shortly after my first cycle of chemo I was on short term disability (which I insisted on calling “medical leave” to anyone who’d hear it) and was sleeping a much needed 12-16 hour days from then on.
You could fit as a fiddle right now and benefit from knowing the difference between State Disability, Federal Disability and Supplemental Disability benefits, so listen up peeps, because I can’t tell you how much smoother the road would’ve been if I’d understood it all before I started treatments.
I’m telling you right now that if you have been diagnosed “Stage IV”, you need to get a grip and get to filling out the paperwork now because this cancer thing and fighting it will soon be your full time job and your new company is backed up in the paperwork department and understaffed so they could use all the heads up you can give them. Stop jerking yourself and the company you work for around. Let them get on with finding someone to cover your duties. I know here in the states we have a 90 day Family Medical Leave act which means they can’t replace you or close out your position until 90 days after you start your medical leave, but let’s all be honest here. There isn’t a person on the planet who’s finished treatment for stage IV cancer within 90 days. Maybe one day, yes I do believe it’s possible, but not today, not this year and not next year so wake up and get this crap done now while you have the brain cells and the energy to deal with it.
Here’s a breakdown of the Disability benefits available:
- State (temporary)
- Federal (permanent) – you have to be
- Supplemental (additional insurance you’ve purchased like Aflac through your employer or elsewhere)
is available from the day you stop working (minus about a 2 week waiting period) for about one year. After that, you’re considered permanently disabled and you are no longer eligible for state benefits (money). State disability amounts to about 60% of your income. Do NOT apply for Unemployment benefits EVER when receiving State disability.
is available one year from the time you became disabled. The monthly benefit amounts to a percentage of the total amount you’ve earned throughout your lifetime. In my case it came about to under $2,000 per month, but as the guy at the SS office explained it. It’s less per month, but it’s for the rest of your life. And you are allowed to work and earn up to $1,000 per month without penalty or deduction from your SSDI monthly benefit. You should apply for it shortly after you’re setup on State disability though because it takes months to process and often times the first claim may be denied. If that happens, don’t be discouraged, just turn around and file again. Again, there’s a huge backlog of applications on these people’s desks and things fall through the cracks. Stage IV cancer is definitely on their list of eligible conditions for permanent disability. I know. I am speaking from experience remember?
After all the times I watched those funny Aflac commercials and never signed up for it…I could kick myself. However, I could kiss my old company’s finance guy for convincing me to sign up for the supplemental disability insurance plan they offered. It kicked in an extra $300 per month that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. They also offered liaison services, meaning that a nice person filled out all the SSDI paperwork for me, so all my jumbled brain had to do was sign the paperwork where she put a yellow arrow with the word “sign” next to.
So, there you have it. State is temporary, but gives you more money (about 60% of your recent earnings). Federal is permanent, but gives you less money (a percentage based on your overall earnings since your first real job). Supplemental helps to fill in the gaps. If you don’t have supplemental now, what are you waiting for…
Watch for more detailed blogs on the ins and outs of State and Federal Disability and lessons learned via one really obstinate woman’s resistance to sensibility coming next~