Individuals with CF must be more selective in finding employment than people without a chronic illness. This often requires more research on the employer and benefits prior to accepting a new job. In some cases, it may make sense to accept a job that pays less but has better health insurance. Also, persons with CF need to be in an environment that is not a health risk, for example, free of smoke or irritating fumes. If you have any questions about environmental risks, please ask your CF team.
Typically, employers will not be very supportive of a new employee who is out frequently due to hospitalizations and/or other medical problems. If you are considering a change of employment, you will want to be as healthy as possible when starting the new position. Talk with your CF team to see if they have any recommendations.
Once you have established some longevity with your employer, you may want to consider talking with your supervisor about CF and how it affects your health. Today, more people than ever with CF are in the work force. An increasing number of companies are flexible about allowing employees to administer medications, including IV antibiotics, at work. Some supervisors will also allow employees to work from home when they are recovering from infections.
Short-term and Long-term Disability Insurance
When starting a new job and selecting benefits, look into the possibility of short-term and long-term disability insurance. These benefits can be very helpful if you need to consider leaving work on permanent disability. Many times this benefit will see you through the months that it takes for Social Security to be approved and checks to begin arriving. Some people with CF have used their short-term disability as a test for themselves, to determine the need for permanent disability.
For anyone who is considering applying for Social Security Disability, there are several categories applicable to CF. The most common one relates to lung disease. The reviewers will review an applicant’s lung function over the past year, as well as other factors like hospitalizations and the need for IV antibiotics. The other potential areas to justify disability are digestive problems and bone disease. Your CF team should be able to help provide you with data that is helpful when filling out the disability application. The entire process may take several months or longer, so it’s imperative that you have a plan to support yourself through this lengthy procedure. The social worker from your CF team can help you explore the options for financial assistance in your community.
Source: Advocacy Manual of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation