Cancer survivors need disability insurance

I wanted to post some advice to cancer survivors who are still working. Once you have had cancer or any serious illness, opt in for any and all extra insurance options that your work offers. If your job doesn’t offer short and long-term disability, look into changing companies. I know that might seem drastic, but…we all respond differently to the treatments and you don’t know what kind of long-term, latent (delayed) side effects you might have. Once I recovered from chemo, radiation and surgery treatments, I was fine for about 4-5 years. Slowly I started getting neck pain, nerve pain, dental issues, fatigue issues, immune issues, and mild cognitive impairment (possibly from chronic pain). I had to stop working in 2017 and we would have been totally screwed financially had I not opted into short-term disability (60% of your income for 1-90 day leave) and long-term disability (60% of your income for 91 days and beyond) insurance at work. It took some out of my pay every month, but it was minimal. My office also offered supplemental disability insurance (pays remaining 40% of your income). These are not as hard to get approved for when compared to social security disability because typically you have to be unable to work in your existing role (initially).

Most long-term disability providers change the definition after 2 years, so you must be deemed unable to do ANY occupation, but for some, that two years may be long enough to get some new skills, or save and reduce expenses so you can live on a reduced income. Or maybe it’s just better than nothing.

If you need to file, I also recommend getting a lawyer that specializes in private disability insurance. There are some important things to know when you fill out your paperwork that can make or break your case. It’s hard to afford one when you’re already dealing with health costs and the threat of losing your salary, but it can make the difference between getting approved or not.

It’s good to hope for minimal effects long-term, but much of it is out of our control. Once I recovered, I didn’t think having had cancer would effect me besides maybe having some dental issues. I was living my life, happy and contented. And then slowly I started having these issues and they became more intensified and the duration was longer until I was struggling to function day to day and struggling at work because of it. I didn’t even really understand what was happening because it was such a slow boil. I hope this is helpful to even just one person who is adjusting to life after cancer.

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