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    Any feedback is appreciated

    I started with MS in 2004. I have been able to continue working since then in a high stress job. I am 57 and been working for the same company for 33 years. In the last two years I am experiencing cognitive decline and fatigue to the level that I do not believe that I can continue working (at least not this job). I went to the neuro 2-years ago and she had me do a baseline neuro-psych and MRI. She said that she could see I was having gait problems, that nothing new was on the brain MRI but we probably need to do a spinal MRI because I have also had numbness in my hands that has not improved (then she left her practice the next month). I have a new neurologist that I will see in January.

    My plan is to do the following:
    1. Have the spinal MRI and another neuro-psych after seeing the new neurologist.
    2. By February I plan to request FMLA and STD from my employer (so far I have never told them anything). I actually have 100 sick days banked as well.
    3. Depart work at an unknown time in the future (and that is my question). Is it better to stop working completely or to stay with my employer and use up the sick time and STD and then stop before filing for Social Security Disability. Forgive me as I am new to SSDI
    Don't be afraid of the waves- Focus on the MASTER walking on the water - you won't even SEE the waves

    #2
    One of the most important things for SSDI is to have the support of your neurologist, and your neuropsychologist if you are claiming cognitive issues that show on the test results. So make sure you discuss with them and have their support. You may need a doctor to fill out forms for FMLA and STD as well.

    I am not sure the type of work you do and if there are any reasonable accomodations that could be requested to keep you working. As an example, I went from working full time in office, to one day at home,then 2, all the way to 5 days from home. The last accomodations was extended lunch break ( I would nap), making up the time later. I also used intermittent FMLA as a strategy later, taking Wednesdays off each week.

    So if any accomodations could be made, you can also discuss with your Neuro and have them submit the request to your employer. They do not need to disclose your MS, just that you had a medical condition. In my case, it probably bought me another year plus of work.

    Like you, I had "invisible" symptoms. Right arm/hand numbness and pain, fatigue, cognitive issues, dizziness. My cognitive issues showed some on tests, but not enough on it's own to qualify as impaired. But it was a catch 22, fatigue affected my cognitive abilities and the cognitive struggles worsened my fatigue. Then the fatigue exacerbated other symptoms.

    So you want to make sure your Neuro and neuropsych understand this struggle and document it in their records. Likewise, if anyone at work has noticed your work productivity/performance dropping, see if you can get it documented. My company would not allow any manager or coworker to write anything once on STD. Thankfully I had a few emails and my manager left and wrote his observations for me.

    As for whether it is better to use your sick time/STD, I can't advise. From a financial aspect, it might make sense. Likewise, it may take awhile to get your tests and appointments done following your Neuro appt in January. So you may want to use some of this time if struggling too much at work while waiting on tests. The only thing I would caution is you want to take your neuropsych testing as fatigued as you are when working. If you are out of work and well rested, it may not simulate what your performance would be when working. I filed for SSDI once my STD ended.

    Hopefully our volunteer lawyer will be along for some insight. Lots of luck to you.



    Kathy
    DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri

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      #3
      Pennstater, thank you very much for the information. Your post is extremely helpful. My job is managing 19 locations with 134 employees. It has a variety of demands that come with employees and customers including quick decision making, financial reports, client demands, etc. It is mentally and physically demanding. I have pulled it off for 18 years, but now it is becoming evident that I am having problems (funny that I am still performing better . It is crazy when I can't remember a person's name that I have worked with for 5-years or a string of 5-numbers between spreadsheets. I am at the point that I fear impromptu business meetings because there is a chance that I will forget a pertinent issue if I don't have notes prepared. My current job requires me to be at work every day and driving between locations and meetings. I am the number one person in my region and me being absent is clearly noticed. I drag into work no matter how I feel and wing it quite often. It is not fun.

      The company has centralized support jobs that are a long distance away at headquarters and I cannot move because of my wife's job. I need to explore the chance of me being an online HR support person or something of that nature with them.

      The last neuro psych exam I did rest and "get prepared" for it and it was not representative of the dysfunction I face at work. I will follow your advice on the next exam.

      Thank you again for your advice.
      Don't be afraid of the waves- Focus on the MASTER walking on the water - you won't even SEE the waves

      Comment


        #4
        I was exhausted just reading your job description twenty miles!

        I can relate to how you are feeling. I always put extra time in to compensate and make up for deficits. It was during many impromptu meetings I realized I just couldn't do it anymore.

        Hopefully you can find something that works for you!
        Kathy
        DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri

        Comment


          #5
          My next question is how to select an attorney and how does the attorney get paid. Thanks.
          Don't be afraid of the waves- Focus on the MASTER walking on the water - you won't even SEE the waves

          Comment


            #6
            For me, I selected an attorney who only did disability cases. But I had filed on my own initially. Once turned down, I hired an attorney for the appeal. My thought process that this type of attorney would be familiar with the appellate judges and how each operates. It did work out, as he was able to tell me what to expect from the specific judge.

            Since I was on appeal, once awarded, my disability was backdated and the attorney was paid out of the back award owed me.

            The attorney fee is capped by the government. Federal law generally limits the fees charged by Social Security disability attorneys to 25% of your backpay, or $6,000, whichever is lower. If it is not approved, there is no attorney payment. Attorneys can also charge for some expenses, like medical records. So if an attorney says, they will charge per hour, go running away!

            Also, I know the attorney on here does both SSDI and employers Long Term Disability. I would have used my long Term Disability lawyer, but he only did employer law cases (ERISA). He was the one who recommended my SSDI attorney. I would not get an attorney who does all types of law (wills, accidents, etc) as you will want someone who does a lot of disability - just my opinion.

            Even better, if you can find someone knowledgeable of MS and how its invisible symptoms can affect your ability to work. Not sure, but you could try the NMSS navigator program to see if they have any recommendations in your area. You could also ask your Neuro if they know anyone from prior patients filings.

            When checking out an attorney, don't be afraid to ask what their success rate is on initial filing and on appeal. Most SSDI attorneys won't take a case if they don't think they can win, as there will be no payment, other than some expenses. You also want to understand how they get paid if successful on initial filing and it is approved quickly (prior to any back award being accrued).

            ​​​​​​​Hope I didn't confuse you. Having a little bit of a rough day myself.
            Kathy
            DX 01/06, currently on Tysabri

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