Soon I'll Be Too Disabled to Do My Job; How Screwed Am I?

I work in a warehouse. The job requires heavy lifting and some manual dexterity.

I’m also well into middle age, and I believe I am in the beginning stages of arthritis. The fingers on my right hand (my dominant hand) are cramped up at the knuckles, and it’s getting worse by the day. I figure at this rate I have maybe 6-12 months left before I’m all but useless for this type of work.

I mentioned this to my boss and asked for a transfer to a desk job (there are several desk jobs at this company for which I’m qualified). His response (paraphrased) was “You’ll do the job I hired you for or go look somewhere else. Now kwitcherbitchin get back to work.”

I have neither a union nor a contract, and since my boss is the son of the company’s sole owner HR isn’t really much of a recourse.

Is it time to start looking for another job? Is there some legal recourse available to me?

Your doctor will have to certify you as disabled.

Get on State Disability as soon as you can and apply for SSDI right after that, he process takes awhile.

Keep records, document, document,document.

State Disability depends on a number of factors. I think our office still only has a ~30% allowance rate.

That said, a lot of it has to do with your transferrable skills and ability to do other work, which is based on past relevant work and a number of other factors.

Go to your local SSA field office and file for disability. The process can take anywhere from 60-90 days, more or less depending upon how long it takes to acquire your medical records from your treating physicians.

Make sure you list all of them adequately on your application. Any errors in this department can only slow things down. Work it out with your doctors to make sure your records are complete and comprehensive. Consultative examinations (CEs) are scheduled with our panelists which are required for a decision. You want to avoid this if possible, since it takes a long time (usually) for this exam to take place.

At a VERY rough glance, I’d say that you might not be disabled enough to meet a listing, but I have no idea what past relevant work you have done and what other work you may be able to do. Age, vocational training, etc. all applies here. Definitely apply ASAP.

I think your first step is an examination by your doctor, with the understanding that it is your job that is hurting you. As far as I understand, your doctor will turn that into a Worker’s Compensation claim at that point.

Is your loss of hand motion a result of some type of repetitive activity you do at work? You might be eligible for workman’s compensation.

This also. If your injury is caused by work, definitely go that route.

So you believe that you have arthritis, but you don’t actually have a diagnosis?

You do realize that there could be some treatments available to you that would prolong your ability to do your job, right?

So why not see a physician and sort that out before you race ahead and declare yourself disabled.

Also: if there are desk-job positions for which you qualify at the current company, is there no way to actually apply for them? Are there no other desk-job positions at any other company for which you might qualify? I recognize that changing jobs when one is “well into middle age” (whatever that means) may pose difficult, especially considering the current job market.

Mostly, I’m about finding out if there’s some mitigating treatments that will buy you some time. It could be that you don’t have arthritis at all but carpal tunnel, which can be treated and if caused by your work, all treatment would qualify for Workman’s Comp.

Find out what you have first. Then we’ll tell you how screwed you are.

Well I can easily work any number of desks jobs in this company or any number of other companies in town. It’s just that my boss refuses to transfer me; but that’s another thread.

I can, of course, apply for jobs outside the company, and it looks like that’s what I’m going to have to do.

And yes, my hand-cramping is definitely a result of repetitive motions here at work. I’ll defininitely be asking my doc about it.


Look at this hot five-step sequential evaluation talk. But you forget: What is Step 1? Is that step satisifed here?

To the OP: research SSI and SSDI. Because of reasons, I can’t really say much more than that. But if you think you are or will soon be disabled, it probably is worth getting to know more about Social Security’s disability programs. And your state (which is also my state) has a parallel programs, one of which is called something like Assistance to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (there might be more than just this too). I would look into these and vocational rehab as well. I think they are administered by the Illinois Dept. of Human Services.

HeyHomie, it really could be carpal tunnel, which might be easily fixable.

It’s probably not a bad idea to start researching how one goes about getting on Disability because hell, I understand it takes so long that, by the time you got it, you really might have arthritis. Of course, you could also be 97 by then… So first get a diagnosis. :slight_smile:

**HeyHomie **- We only get one go-around on this rock. Leave and find a job where you are more appreciated. If you have desk-job skills, find a job at a place where you would would actually like getting up in the morning and going to. Do it for you man!

Make sure you document this comment in your daily diary about your workplace. Don’t have a daily diary or log? Start one now and and include any and all comments made to you, and by whom, concerning your job, your job performance, etc.

Why? You fired a shot across the bow with your question to your boss. From now on, you need to be on guard at work.

SS disability is very tough to get. Two thirds of people who do get were turned down on the first go and have to get some sort of legal help to get it.

The thing about disability is you have to be permanently disabled and cannot work. Not just can’t work at your current job.

If you’re let go remember to get unemployment comp you have to be actively seeking work to qualify. If you go the WC route you have to prove that it was the job that actually caused your problem.

All of them are doable but they take time.

True enough - you could be fired soon for some trumped-up reason once they think they’re going to be paying a worker’s comp claim for you (which is totally illegal, but it doesn’t mean they won’t try it). Your boss doesn’t sound bright enough to have made that connection, frankly, but you never know.

Get to a doctor soonest - once you start documenting that your job is hurting you, it gets more suspicious for them to make up causes to fire you.

I was just giving him some practical advice if he decides to take that route. I can’t really speak for any other compensation program.

No real need for the snark.

It wasn’t snark. From the concepts you used (the listings (Step 3), past relevant work (Step 4), and other work within the claimant’s residual functional capacity (Step 5)), I surmised you were pretty familiar with the five-step sequential evaluation process the SSA uses to make disability determinations. But maybe not?

Anyway, when you said he should apply straightaway, while working, the problem would be that he would be denied at Step 1 — the claimant has not worked after his alleged onset of disability at the substantial gainful activity level. Since a claimant can’t allege a future AOD and since he is currently working, presumably above the SGA level, which is currently $1,000 per month, he would be found not disabled pursuant to this step. Unless he could show sheltered workshop conditions or impairment-related work expenses (IRWEs) that drop him below SGA, which I don’t think is present here.

Just wanted to pop in with a tangent. As far as I know, your boss can’t actually prohibit you from applying for a desk job if it’s open to the public to apply for.

Is your boss also the boss of the desk jobbers? If not, then you’re applying to his dad. Find out what you can about daddy, and make a big deal of your experience and how much you already know about the company that they won’t have to spend time training.

If your boss IS the boss of the desk jobbers, then if he says anything about it, say that you really like the company, but you want to try something different. If he doesn’t even consider your application, then is the time to start thinking about other places to work, but at least at that point you tried everything you could on the job front.

In the meantime, get a medical workup - no sense suffering if there’s a chance that there are treatments or mediations for what you’re dealing with physically.