This is a decision only you can make for yourself. Please never let anyone else discourage you from what is best for you — not a doctor or your boss or your family — only you live in your body and only you really know.
Deciding to Keep Working
If you are still working and wish to continue, here’s a few resources you may find helpful:
💮 If you need assistance to continue working, check out this Sample Letter a Disability Accommodation in the Workplace
💮 If you wish to change jobs or find a new job, your local Department of Rehabilitation may be able to assist you with finding job training, vocational assessment, or job placement.
💮 It is possible to apply for Social Security disability while working, as long as you are earning under a certain amount. You may find it more difficult to get approved, or it may take longer, but it is possible. Learn more: Applying for Disability While Working
Deciding to Apply for Disability
If you are too sick to continue working, or working is making your condition worse, you may be wondering if it’s better to just wait and see what happens, or wait and see if you recover. Here’s a few important reasons why some people decide to apply right away instead of waiting:
💮 If you have health insurance right now, but you think this might change.
💮 If you have some ability to handle forms and phone calls right now, but you think this might change.
💮 If you are well enough to leave your home and go to the doctor right now, but you think this might change.
💮 If you have transportation to get to the doctor right now, but you think this might change.
💮 If you have friends or family who are willing to help you right now, but you think they might burn out or move on.
Once you start losing these things, it may be much harder to apply for disability. We can’t stress this enough: If you lose your ability to get to the doctor, it may be difficult or impossible to ever get approved.
No Matter What You Decide
Things you do right now in your life may turn out to have a big impact on you later. Cautionary tales from readers:
💮 Avoid Getting Screwed Over if Your Employer Offers Disability Insurance
💮 Human Resources is Not Your Friend
💮 10 Biggest Life Regrets Before Applying for Disability
We have heard from many readers with invisible illnesses (like Lyme, MCS, ME, and CFS) who waited a long time before applying for disability. Sometimes so long their work credits expired and they lost the ability to apply at all.
It is not clear why people with these conditions seem to wait so much longer than other disabilities. Perhaps because it can take longer to get a diagnosis, or because it can be harder to be believed by doctors and others in your life or because when an illness is invisible it can be easier to “pass” and harder to accept when you have become disabled.
Whatever the reason, many of our readers regret this decision to wait, because of the the hardship and financial or medical crisis it caused in their lives.
“I waited too long to apply for disability. I thought I was being responsible and self-sufficient by waiting. Plus, I’d heard it was difficult to apply. It turned out I got approved in six months, but by that time I had lost so many other things. My stoicism cost me.” – AM
“Please don’t make my mistake. I did not know that disability work credits expire. I waited too long and now I am no longer eligible. I cannot apply at all.” – Owen P.
“I agree! I waited and now it is taking forever to get the assistance I so desperately need.” – JVC
“I wish I had not pushed myself to keep working. I will never know for sure, but I will always wonder what would have happened if I had stopped working when I first knew I was too sick. Maybe I would not be bedridden now.” – Eileen M.
“In 20 years of illness, I have lost count of the people I’ve met who say they wished they had stopped working earlier. I have never heard someone say ‘I wish I kept working longer!’ My attempts to work only worsened my severity level. I did terrible damage to body while trying to work very long hours in a demanding career. Once I stopped working, my symptoms never improved.” – Marigold
Thanks for Reading
🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability
🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.
🌷 Page Updated: 8/1/19
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1 thought on “What Should I Do? Apply for Disability? Reduce Hours? Change Jobs? Wait and See?”
I just want to reach out and thank you for this site and all the work everyone here does to help others. These guides have been a lifesaver for me