In about two weeks my short term disability (STD) insurance will end. My health will probably be no different than it is today, but my insurance will disappear. Luckily, I paid into my company’s long term disability (LTD) insurance. Last week I got all sorts of information about this benefit. I learned how much it will pay, how the money will be taxed, and how my other benefits, such as health insurance and the FSA, will be affected. Of course, this is assuming that I get LTD.
My rheumatologist has been on vacation for over a week. When she gets back later this week, she will find some forms that are waiting for her at the office (assuming the postal service delivered them on time.) I hope that she fills out these forms and sends them in quickly. I must fill out my own set of forms, with crazy questions like asking me to list all of the illnesses I’ve had in the last 5 years, and send them in. And then I wait. I wait and I hope that my application is approved the first time around. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, after years of people not believing that I had a real health problem, I still get nervous about this kind of paperwork.
Still, I will probably be approved. I now have years of medical records that document my condition, and doctors who will explain why I can’t work. I feel so fortunate. The payout is decent – enough to pay all of my bills if I’m frugal. I get to keep my (very decent) health insurance. I lose some benefits, such as the FSA, but so be it. I can even work to a certain extent while I am on LTD (when I eventually feel up to it.) This is all much better than what I had expected. But there’s one thing that really bothers me: fairness.
Ok, the world isn’t fair. We all know this. Still, it doesn’t seem right that I get this benefit because I worked at a company that provides LTD, while so many others do not. If I had gotten sick 10 years ago, I’d simply be unemployed now. And if my current inability to work doesn’t improve within the 2 years that I have LTD? Then what? Social security is a joke – it wouldn’t even cover my rent right now. Even if I moved out of state to an area with a lower cost of living, it wouldn’t be enough. I would be on Medicaid and food stamps and would still have trouble paying the bills. Is this the way we want our system to work?
I feel so grateful for the amazing benefits I have, and so horrified that they are not standard. I can not understand why more people don’t stand up and insist on receiving these kinds of benefits. I suppose everyone thinks it won’t happen to them. That’s what I used to think. But most of us know someone who has had to deal with illness, so isn’t it just possible that it could affect us too? We need outrage right now. I’m too tired to fight for this kind of universal benefit right now, but when I get my energy back, when I’m feeling better, it will be right near the top of my list. When I go back to work, I want to fight for equality and fairness. It’s an uphill battle, but one that I look forward to fighting.
If you can relate to this, please pass it along! Thanks!