You’re an active contributor to the workforce…and you have just been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. After speaking about your diagnosis with friends and family, beginning treatment under expert care and adjusting to a different lifestyle, you may ask yourself if you are ready to return to the work force.
Though many patients are unable to continue working full-time, or in the line of work in which they are trained, there are resources and options available to those who want to maintain active, productive lifestyles – regardless of physical ability.
Talk to your PH team and consult these resources to help inform your decision.
Know Your Rights
Even on days when you are feeling your best, PH can take a toll so any PH patient who continues to work should know their rights and monitor legislative protections for the workplace.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that employers may not ask job applicants about the existence, nature or severity of a disability. This includes questions about your family’s health or any past illnesses or surgical procedures you have undergone.
Employers may ask you whether you are able to perform the essential functions of a job, but must make reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform your job as necessary, such as providing a refrigerator or freezer for your medications if necessary.
Learn more about how the ADA can be used to your advantage from the ADA National Network Handbook (PDF).
Complaints against employers who may have violated provisions of this Act (i.e. discrimination against disabled job-seekers) may be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The PHA Online Insurance Guide
You can visit the PHA Online Insurance Guide to learn more about work-related issues such as applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) status, or for information and resources on dealing with unemployment and financial assistance. SSDI pays benefits to eligible individuals who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or results in death.
Ticket to Work and Work Incentives
Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program supports career development for Social Security disability beneficiaries age 18 through 64 who want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. The Ticket Program helps people with disabilities progress toward financial independence. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits because of a disability and are age 18 through 64 probably already qualify for the program.
Advice from Working PH Patients
Here are some tips and information on more helpful work-related legislation from working PH patients:
- If you don’t treat your disability like a big deal, others may not either.
- If you sign up for health insurance the first time it is offered, you may not have to take a physical.
- If you run into discrimination because of your PH and are a union member, your union may be able to help you.
- Prepare your workplace for a PH emergency.
- Join a PHA Facebook group or contact a PHA Email PHriend to hear from other patients who work.