Should I leave my job and go on SSDI?
January 20, 2014 6:50 AM Subscribe
I'm 44 and was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer several months ago. For 7 years, I've been the communications director of a small nonprofit. My ED has been incredibly kind in granting me extended sick leave, paying my full salary and benefits for the past three months while I went through chemo. Despite his generosity, I have been long planning to leave and don't want to go back to work at this organization. My job does not offer any kind of short or long term disability, but according to the SS website, the diagnosis of stage 4 cancer automatically qualifies me for SSDI benefits. Do I leave this job and go on SSDI while recovering and preparing to transition to another field?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Prior to the diagnosis, I was deeply unhappy and stressed out at this job, related to the extremely dysfunctional management practices of my ED. For at least 4 years, I have been actively job hunting and interviewing for communications positions at a similar nonprofit in my area, without success. Just before the diagnosis, I had decided to start obtaining certifications and education to help me transition into another field, not necessarily in nonprofit.
The treatment over the past few months was brutal and resulted in multiple hospital stays, including a few days in the ICU. Chemo ended a week ago and I don't yet know what the next steps are going to be. My energy levels are very low, I get exhausted easily, and just don't feel like I have the mental or physical capacity to deal with my ED. I don't miss the stress of being there at all and in fact, think it would be detrimental to my recovery to go back.
Stage 4 is terminal, and my oncologist told me the median lifespan following diagnosis is 3 years. While I intend to live well beyond that, I live in the midwest and my family is on the east coast, so going on SSDI would also allow me to go spend some time with my family while I prepare for my next professional move.
SSDI will pay me very little, but I do have some money put away and can get by for a while on benefits & my savings. I do not expect that this is the end of my working life and very much want my time on SSDI to be limited while I recover and prepare for next steps professionally, though I am pretty nervous about facing a job hunt in a related but new field in this economy. Hoping the hive mind can offer me some perspective/relevant info on SSDI, and a reality check on this plan in general.