Deciding to leave work to pursue disability is a gut-wrenching choice. In the words of the British punk band, the Clash, “If I go there will be trouble; if I stay there will be double.” Here are a few factors to consider:
How do you feel? Are pain or fatigue making it physically impossible to do your job? Are you able to concentrate well enough? Is working making your health worse? Do you feel that you simply cannot do it? You are the only person who can answer these questions.
What is your doctor’s opinion? It will be important to have your doctor support your decision and be willing to complete the appropriate paperwork. It may be helpful to have a frank discussion with your physician.
How will you live? In order to pursue a claim for Social Security Disability you do not have to stop working completely, but you must be earning less than $1,070 per month gross. Unfortunately, you cannot get your disability claim approved first and then reduce your income below $1,070. It will usually take about six months for a Social Security Disability application to be processed at the initial level. Further appeals can take two years. Can you reduce your expenses sufficiently in the mean time? Can you collect NJ State Disability for 26 weeks? Are you entitled to private short or long term disability benefits?
How will you maintain health insurance? It will be important to continue regular medical treatment, not only for your own well-being, but to prove your case as well. How long will your employer cover you? Can you get coverage through a spouse? Would you be able to get Medicaid through the Board of Social Services?
Are you eligible for a pension? Obviously if you are covered by a pension that requires a certain number of years of service, you will want to meet that requirement if at all possible.
What emotional impact will it have on you? Working provides a social network and satisfaction of making a contribution to society. Staying home can be extremely isolating. How will you fill that void?
Can you take a short leave? Perhaps taking a short leave of absence can answer your questions without jeopardizing your job. Try it out and see if the fit is right.
Speak to a lawyer. Feel free to call and I can explain what you need to prove for a person your age with your conditions. This can help you decide if Social Security Disability is right for you.