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Long term sick - return to work

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by Bookworm84, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    Hi, I'm new here and this is my first post.

    I have CFS and was diagnosed about 7 years ago (although I've had symptoms since i was in high school). I work 4 days a week and can manage my symptoms pretty well.

    I experienced excruciating shoulder and elbow pain in Oct last year. The Dr suspected it was a nerve issue and i was on an NHS waiting list until January when i found out the wait would be at least 26 weeks. As i was off work sick, i decided to see a private consultant. They diagnosed me with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome which is a compression of nerves and/or blood vessels at the shoulder which causes issues through the arm. Consultant referred me for physio and said it would be 6 months to complete recovery but I should be able to return to work before then. As you can imagine physio and CFS are not the greatest mix but I've managed. I'm now 2 months into physio and practicing my typing every day to get back up to speed.

    My issue is the my physio would like me to be able to do 4hrs typing a day before returning, my manager wants me to make sure I'm fit before returning, my employers Insurance company want me to return now as they say that i can take it easy at first, the Occupational Health advisor wants me to be well before i go back and I'm lost among all these people's opinions! I'm getting constant phone calls and requests for meetings with all of these people and whenever i try to do my physio exercises or typing practice the phone rings. I can manage 2 hrs typing without too many negative effects but more than that can be quite painful.I also had a call from my manager yesterday to say that one of my colleagues has been sat in my desk for the last week and is having a 'really hard time at the moment' and wanted me to swap desks with her. That didn't really make me feel very welcome to return to be honest.

    Am i being overly sensitive and should i just pull on my big girl panties and go back to work now or should I hold out and wait until i can manage a bit more computer work? An outside perspective would be very helpful!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2016
    justy, Invisible Woman and TiredSam like this.
  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn The Diabolic Logic

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    Only one of these people is an expert on injuries, and on your injury in particular. The manager, advisor, and insurance company have absolutely no basis to be making your medical decisions. You, the physio, and/or a doctor should be the ones making decisions based on your medical status. No one else.
     
  3. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    Valentijn, Thank you so much for your reply. I'm finding it hard to see the wood for the trees and it was making me panic. My husband said the same as you but he tends to wrap me in cotton wool if i let him!
     
    Valentijn likes this.
  4. KitCat

    KitCat be yourself. everyone else is already taken.

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    I think you should research your insurance policy and fight back. They do not have your best interest at heart. They are pushing you to go back to work against medical advice. You can appeal it and fight it.

    Almost everyone on disability has to fight their insurance policy. Get a lawyer if you need to.

    Don't push yourself to be well if you are not -- make sure all your doctors know how bad your symptoms and limitations are, and do your best to get written in your medical records each visit. Do not say anything to give the impression that you are ready to work if working is putting you in pain.
     
    hellytheelephant likes this.
  5. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    Thanks KitCat. I have a Dr appt today so I'm going to sit down and talk it through with him. He's fantastic and very supportive.
     
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  6. KitCat

    KitCat be yourself. everyone else is already taken.

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    Wonderful. I'm so happy you have a great doc. That will help so much in so many ways.

    Who is it that is calling you? Is it the insurance company? Be careful. These people are not your friends. They are trained to act friendly and concerned. They are trying to get you to say things that will allow them to cut off your benefits.
     
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  7. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    I've been getting calls from my employers Insurance company, they get involved to assist with buying equipment, helping with pay etc. The insurance company also have a rehabilitation consultant company they work with and they liaise with my employer and me to set up a return to work plan. There is also an occupational health advisor who calls once a month (he is very understanding and is happy to go any my pace). Then there are catch up calls with my line manager, monthly meetings face to face with him and HR in the office. My normal physio appointments once every 2 weeks and Dr appointments as and when I need them.
    I know they need to monitor my progress but it's becoming overwhelming.
     
    justy likes this.
  8. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member

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    Do not be pushed into something that you are not ready to do. If your doctor and physio say you are not ready, then you are not ready. It really is that simple. Bear in mind: if they are putting this much pressure on you now, do you really believe that they will let you take things at your own recovery speed once you start back to work? I doubt it.

    If you return to work against the medical advise of your own doctor and physio, even if you want to go back, you may well be breaking the company health and safety code. This could potentially reduce your rights further down the line - if you go back and suffer further iinjury etc. Be careful with this.

    The insurance company want you off their books asap. They are probably also pressuring your employer to pressure you. This will continue until they can stop paying out. The constant calls and checking are part of the process to make you feel bad and keep the pressure on.

    Make it clear to your doctor and physio that you feel very pressured and that the constant calls/meetings are negatively affecting your recovery. Tell your employer & their insurer that the calls are starting to interfere with the exercise the physio has recommended and so you won't be taking calls while doing them. Let the answer machine take a message and call them back when it is convenient.

    As regards to other colleagues issues/arrangements: perhaps you could suggest to your employer that as you are not ready to return to work yet, you would rather wait until closer to the time before deciding on anything.

    Remember - your health has to come first. Good luck.
     
  9. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    Thank you Invisible Woman.
    I'm a bit of a people pleaser and I find it difficult to say no and conflict of any kind stresses me completely. However, I know that the world won't end if I let one of their calls go to voicemail. I just have to remind myself of that!
    I didn't see how much I was being pressured until yesterday. Then some comments they made alerted me to the fact that some of these people weren't as 'in my corner' as they first appeared.
    I am determined to do what is best for me and not worry about everyone else.
     
  10. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    Update:
    Dr has signed me off for a few more weeks, his exact words were 'I work for you'. I feel confident that I'll be at a good point to return then.
    I'm trying not to stress about all the reactions and phone calls I'm sure to get!

    Thank you for your support. It's nice to not feel so alone. I was inspired to write a blog entry earlier about taking a stand and being on my own side.
     
  11. KitCat

    KitCat be yourself. everyone else is already taken.

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    Hi Bookworm,

    I am very happy that your doctor is supporting you. That is fabulous!

    Right on. I am glad you are starting to stand up for yourself :)

    Please take care of yourself. I hope that you are able to return to work, but if I were you, I would protect myself, in case things do not turn out the way we are hoping.

    You may not need to go to these meetings or have these phone calls with your insurance company. I have read that it is super helpful to check your policy and know it well -- if it does not require you to attend meetings or talk on the phone, you do not have to. You can request that they put their questions in writing instead of calling or meeting with you. The people I know on employer disability all say: read your policy carefully so you know what you are required to do and what language you need.

    From what I have read, they are probably recording these phone calls and trying to get you to say something to invalidate your claim. If your policy does not require you to have phone meetings with them, I would just say "I am following the medical advise of my doctor. If you have further questions, please send them to me in writing and I will review them with a lawyer if necessary."

    If it is just a simple billing issue or paperwork for buying equipment that is fine, but if they start questioning you about your health or recovery or return to work, I would just say "I am following the advise of my doctor. Please refer to my medical records."

    Please take a look online and read a little about other people's experiences, there are many people who have been hurt by these insurance companies.

    The return to work plan makes me nervous. Have you looked in your policy to see if you are required to do this? I personally would not create one unless I am being required to. I would certainly never sign or agree to a written plan like this without reviewing it with a lawyer first. If my employer wants to meet with me to talk things over, I would meet with my employer. In my opinion, there is no reason to have the insurance company there.

    If you don't mind sharing, what is the name of your insurance company?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
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  12. CFS_for_19_years

    CFS_for_19_years Hoarder of biscuits

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    Someone here said the best way to deal with insurance companies is to ask them to NOT call you, and ask them to write to you instead. That should take off some of the pressure in dealing with them over the phone. If you put in the request over the phone and that doesn't work, put the request in writing.
     
  13. justy

    justy Senior Member

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    Hi Bookworm, just dropping in to say hi from West Wales and welcome to PR. Sounds like you have some great advice above and so gald the Dr is on your side. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
     
  14. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    Ask yourself, which of those actually do have "your" best interests at heart, that's the thing which should be important to you. I think I can surely say it wouldn't be your employers insurance company who would only be thinking of themselves and money.
     
  15. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    KitCat thank you for the information.

    The insurance company is through my employer. They provide a service to them which my employer pay for. Part of that is employee support but they are employed by my workplace. It's not a private health insurance. I don't have a policy with them, my employer does and all employees come under their umbrella so to speak. They asses each case and see where they can offer assistance e.g paying for physio, giving employer money for new equipment.

    I will definitely try the 'following the advice of my doctor' line if I'm feeling put on the spot.

    The return to work plan was created by my employer with the guidance of occupation health. I have ensured that the plan suits me and I'm happy with it.

    My occupational health advisor stated in his report that the thoracic outlet was likely triggered by workplace factors so as much as they may try to push a little, in all of the paperwork they are showing nothing but concern for my wellbeing.

    CFS_for_19_years, thanks. The rehab consultant asked that I email after my GP appointment to say how I got on. After everyone's supportive messages I decided to be more firm and contacted her in a much more business like tone than the casual one I had used previously.

    I think it worked as she replied stating that she would call me again in two weeks. (After a hospital appt). Normally she calls out of the blue every few days. So this is a great improvement.

    Justy, hello from South Wales! I'm so glad I decided to join this site. I have an amazing support network in 'real life', but its wonderful to talk to people going through the same thing. I didn't realise how much I needed an understanding ear and validation of my feelings to be honest.
     
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  16. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    I totally agree. I feel a little silly that I didn't see it for what it was from the beginning. But you live and you learn! I'm glad my GP is genuinely interested in my progress and he's known me for years. I'll be much more aware of the situations I'm in from now on.
     
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  17. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    as the other said, beware, many people do end up being hurt by being pushed into work before they are ready by insurance companies etc.

    This happened to my mother and did her major damage so that she's now permanently disabled to the point that she now cant 5? years later even do up her own buttons. (she was pushed to go back to work stacking supermarket shelves which was supposed to be "light duties" after her original injury before it had healed). She gave in to that pressure so had gone back to work part time and now both her wrists are badly damaged (she cant even drive now without pain).

    these people (insurance) are not your friends, they act nice hoping you will say something to give them an excuse to stop paying you.
    ...

    edit.. you posted a response to my other post while I was posting this one. I'm really glad you see how things are now.
     
  18. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member

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    It sounds like you have the situation in hand now.

    With PHI (Permanent Health Insurance) policies like yours some employers will let you have a copy of the policy - but I'd question whether you need to ask for it at the moment if you're happy with how things are. If your recovery became prolonged for some reason you might need to try to see it. Hopefully, it won't be necessary.

    You are perfectly entitled to seek legal advice if you need to. Again, lets hope it doesn't come to that. I would avoid mentioning the work "lawyer" to either your employer or the PHI company (you don't have to tell them even if you do seek legal advice). This may be viewed as an act of war and the situation may escalate. Things in the states may be different on this front.
     
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  19. Bookworm84

    Bookworm84

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    My heart goes out to your mum. There are a lot of cautionary tales out there. I'm so glad I came here before I got any further in.
     
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  20. KitCat

    KitCat be yourself. everyone else is already taken.

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    Hi Bookworm,

    You can call your human resources department and ask them for a copy of your insurance policy. Or contact the insurance company and ask for a copy of your policy.

    This is written by someone who used to work for an employer insurance company that handled these kind of claims. She saw how many people were getting hurt by these insurance companies, and now she works to help people:

    "Not having a knowledgeable understanding of what your policy means to you, in advance of any unforeseen medical disability is very, very unfortunate. As the certificate holder you literally hand the insurer (who is attempting not to pay your claim) a denial of financial means you need to support you and your family.

    In the world of “disability insurance” NOT KNOWING is disastrous! I strongly encourage all of the readers of to act upon these recommendations and obtain a copy of your policy from your employer or insurer especially if you have already filed a disability claim.

    Of all the reasons why and how disability claims are terminated, not reading a policy shouldn’t be one of them. It’s that important. Please, obtain a copy of your policy today if you do not have one."

    This is for the US, I am guessing that it is similar in the UK, but you would need to look at the details.
    https://lindanee.wordpress.com/lindas-consulting-services/
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
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