Employment, Disability Benefits, Managing Debt and Financial Help

Learn about your employment rights, managing debt and financial assistance

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Disability Benefits

After your transplant, you will be unable to work for a period of time. You may be eligible for:

  • disability benefits provided by your employer
  • federal social security disability insurance (SSDI)
  • disability benefits from a state run program

Ask your employer if you're entitled to disability income while you are off work. The social worker or financial advisor at your transplant program can help you apply for the appropriate federal and state benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social security disability insurance is a federal program. To qualify for SSDI benefits:

  • you must be unable to perform your job AND
  • are unable to adjust to a new job AND
  • your disability has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least a year

The amount you will be paid is determined by how much you contributed to the social security disability system while you were employed.

If you are eligible to apply for social security disability benefits, begin the application process early. There is five month waiting period before benefits begin.

For more information about social security disability benefits:

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their job each year in order to:

  • obtain treatment for a serious medical condition
  • care for a child, parent of spouse with a serious medical condition
  • be home for the birth or adoption of a child

Employers subject to the provisions of the FMLA include:

  • private employers with 50 or more employees 
  • all local, state and federal employers
  • all public and private elementary and secondary schools

To be eligible for benefits, you must:

  • have worked for an FMLA-covered employer at least 12 months in the last 7 years
  • have worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 month period
  • work at a location where an employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite

Your state's laws may expand coverage available for medical leave. For more information on FMLA consult the U.S. Department of Labor FMLA website.

Returning to Work

When you return to work or apply for a new job, you may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA:

  • applies to employers with 15 or more employees 
  • protects you from job discrimination because of your medical history
  • allows you to request reasonable accommodations to help you perform your job

Examples of reasonable accommodations include modifications to your work space, modifying your work schedule or changing jobs within the company.

To learn more about how to request workplace accommodations visit the Job Accommodation Network's website.

Managing Debt, Financial Assistance

A number of organizations provide financial assistance for drugs, insurance co-pays or living expenses while you undergo treatment. You can find them listed in BMT InfoNet's Resource Directory.

If you are having difficulty meeting financial obligations such as your mortgage, utilities, or car payments, talk to your creditors as soon as possible. Sometimes, if you explain the situation, they will work with you to set up a payment schedule that is easier for you to meet.

If your debt is unmanageable, there are several strategies you can consider:

  • a home equity line of credit
  • consolidating credit card debt
  • a reverse mortgage
  • an accelerated death benefit from a life insurance policy.

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Next Page: Helping Children Cope

Updated June 2024