Monday, September 21, 2009

Full Time Employment vs. Long-Term Disability

Currently I am on short-term disability, which runs out on September 23. When that happens, I must either go back to being a full-time JDA employee, or I must go to long-term disability. There are a lot of confusing consequences associated with both choices.

JDA defines a full-time employee as being someone who works a minimum of 30 hours per week. I ran an experiment last week to see if I can do this. I did hit the 30-hour mark for the week, but it wasn't exactly a breeze for me. It's not clear to me that I could do this consistently, going forward. And if I do choose this road, I would not be eligible for STD/LTD again until the end of June 2010. In the event that any medical issue forced me out of action again before then, I would be forced into leave without pay, once I exhausted any accumulated vacation and sick leave time. An important related fact is that, assuming that the current chemotherapy is prepping me for stem cell transplant, that would probably happen before the end of 2009, and would probably involve a certain amount of downtime, in the hospital and/or at home.

On the other hand, if I elect LTD at this point, and then at some point switch to full time, then I would again be eligible for STD/LTD for six months, starting from the date on which I switched to full time; and my window of leave-without-pay vulnerability would extend from the end of that six months until the end of June 2010.

In either case, at the end of June 2010 the STD/LTD eligibility clock will completely reset, and I will be back to where I was before my illness began, in that respect if in no other.

No, it doesn't make sense to me either, but I asked as many questions as I could think of to reveal the fatal flaw in my understanding, and this is apparently how the system actually works.

Anyway, this morning Huong faxed my LTD application paperwork to the insurance company. On LTD I lose my JDA benefits, including health insurance, which I will keep alive via COBRA. This will cost us about $650/month, for coverage for the two of us. This is for the "reimbursement for in-network providers only" flavor that we currently have; if I elected the "reimbursement for any and all providers" flavor, that would run $900+. If these numbers sound high, then hold that thought; in an upcoming post, I will review some of the claims that have been paid on my behalf up to now by the insurance company. Spoiler: I now qualify, for the first time in my life, as being "high-maintenance".

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