Which FMLA reason is more appropriate?
September 4, 2012 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Which would be a more appropriate FMLA reason?

Springing off of this person's situation: http://ask.metafilter.com/221777/Family-Leave-Act-Illinois-how-much-notice

What would be a more appropriate request for FMLA?

My mom passed away this April from metastatic breast cancer. It was a very long, 7 year battle and last Dec-April she was on a decline. Being an only child, I wound up being her caretaker along with hospice. My dad emotionally bowed out/froze up so it was really me and hospice. I only took 3 days since she passed so fast. The rest of my time was 1 week funeral leave and 1 week PTO and that was literally to get my dad's estate planning in order and clean up my mom's things. So I would say from the moment my mom passed and forward, I have now been taking care of my dad.

My dad is beyond depressed and has congestive heart failure. He's constantly dizzy and no docs can find out why. To me, his CHF is turning for the worse---blue hands, peripheral edema, slight pitting in legs, he's not eating, and wound up falling at 2am two weeks ago and fracturing 3 ribs. He's not even taking a bath because of depression and being in pain. He also wound up calling me a week later at 1am because he took magnesium citrate for constipation induced by the pain pills and he didn't handle that well. He wanted me to take him to the ER, which I told him was uselsess for essentially bowl prep side effects. So I bought him Depends and some other things.

I call him daily since he has no family/friends and visit on the weekend to write his checks since he refuses auto bill pay. It's fine and I don't mind. But his home is also falling apart where the magnesium citrate episode totally soiled his bathroom floor and he didn't do a great job cleaning (sorry TMI).

My point is from Dec forward I have had zero time to grieve for my mom and now with my dad I'm emotionally getting strapped. I'm telling him he either needs in-home care 4 hours a day, live with us (he absolutely refuses), or go into a home (which is killing me). He just wants to die and be with my mom. He's always been Mr. Ultra Active with work/doing things and now he can't because of how he feels and my mom did EVERYTHING from cooking, banking, shopping, doc appts, the works and he feels totally helpless (which is feeding into the depression).

Bottom line is with this I have a 3.5 year old and work full time. I'm ready to break. I don't want to (and can't) lose my job since I am the benefit provider but I just can't do all of this anymore. But I don't know how long it would take to fix/sell my dad's house if need be or the back and forth fight of in-home care or a retirement home. I found in-home care but he's hot and cold on making a decision.

Would FMLA request be more under care of him or for my own mental health? The problem is I really don't have an end date. Between project managing what needs to be done and when will I feel up to life (and yes, I am seeing a therapist and am on meds for my OWN depression. Hooray). On top of which, say I get everything done and then my dad passes soon after, there is a whole other thing to take care of emotionally.

How would I approach this with my boss (new manager once again) without being a total flake on not handling well, life, as it's thrown at me. But quite honestly, I know I'm not giving it my all here at work because I just don't have anything to give. I don't like being 'that' kind of employee.
posted by stormpooper to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry that this is happening.

My first avenue would be to make an appointment with a therapist/doctor for YOU. Based upon your description, I believe that you could get some kind of Disability for stress. This would allow you to retain your benefits, and get a disability payment. Go for Long Term Disability (anything over 2 weeks.)

Do not discuss this with HR until you have your ducks in a row.

If your doctors don't see this as some kind of indication of stress disability, THEN explore FMLA.

Good luck, my heart goes out to you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:22 AM on September 4, 2012

Long Term Disability (anything over 2 weeks.)

You'll want to check your benefits package on this. Short-term disability is often up to 6 or 8 weeks, and THEN long-term disability kicks in.

But I agree that if you go in for you, you can likely be paid at least part of your salary at a disability level through your employee and can supplement that with sick/vacation time in some way.

If you go in for your dad, you get the leave, but since you yourself are not experiencing the medical event, it may be completely unpaid.
posted by zizzle at 7:24 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

From the perspective of a supervisor who has recently had an employee take FML, it doesn't really matter to me, as the impact to me (and my work) is the same regardless. From a Disability perspective, it may be beneficial to take the leave for yourself so it can be at least partially paid, but if you have a boss/employer who would look down on you for mental illness, it may be perceived as "better" to take leave to care for your Dad, since (presumably) once he is taken care of, your issues will be over and you will be back to work at 100%. NOTE: I realize that this may not actually be the case, but I'm looking at it from your supervisor's potentially sub-optimal point of view.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:31 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty much a believer in giving as little personal information to your work as is practicable. For that reason I would try to request FMLA first to care for my father, and only if that did not work request it for myself, noting that in the latter case it would likely require a medical justification regardless of when I made the request. You might also need a justification for caring for your father, but could presumably get that from his doctor. The benefits are the same in either case.

I know you didn't talk about disability, but keep in mind that you would likely NOT get disability unless you are under the care of a mental health provider, and unless you have a substantial diagnosis to go with your disability claim. Disability insurance providers are in the business of trying to not pay out on claims, so they will require a good reason to do so that exceeds your explanation here (i.e, that is fully medicalized).
posted by OmieWise at 7:37 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Disability/FML insurance-company employee here.
I would recommend you start by calling your Employee Assistance Program. They can get you help not only with your immediate needs (How to handle stress, researching Elder Care options, finding dad a therapist, etc.) and they should also be able to advise you on your options for Short- and Long-Term Disability.

If your physician says you're completely unable to work, you can make a claim on your STD. That would typically kick in after 1 or 2 weeks (depends on your plan) unpaid time off work, or you can use PTO. After that you can receive benefits - typical is 60% of your weekly earnings - for up to 26 weeks (again, depends on your plan).

Most companies that offer STD integrate it with LTD. The transition would be pretty seamless once you max out your STD benefit. Then you'll get paid a benefit until you're able to return to work or until you reach Social Secutiry retirement age (again, depends on your plan).

FMLA is pretty good for people who need time off to deal with family or medical issues. One thing to keep in mind is that you can file for disability payments and also for FMLeave. That gives you the option of taking further time off, without pay, if you need to go to an appointment or take care of your father. Key here is the term "intermittent leave," which means you can take an afternoon here, a day there and still have that protection.

That's just a prime on how disability insurance can work. I would say it's unlikely that a claim based on what you're describing here would be approved for many weeks of benefit. I would recommend that you discuss with your physician what might be most beneficial to you. They are all pretty used to working with disability insurance companies and might have an idea of what would work best for you.

On preview, reviewing RockSteady's comment, your immediate supervisor doesn't need to know why you're on disability. Even when I, as a representative of the insurance company, report claims to the employer it's only in very general terms or combined with other claims to show trends.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:37 AM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can have two FMLA certifications at the same time.

Get both of them in - one for dad (filled out by HIS DOCTOR) and one for you (filled out by YOUR DOCTOR [or therapist]). Turn them in as fast as you can. Like, today if possible.

For the expected duration (part A, question 1, line 2, second page of the employee form) on each form, the doctor should write "unknown, at least [time period.]" Generally when doctors do this they say "at least one year," because that's usually the longest you can go before an employer requests a recertification.

Get forms filled and turned in ASAP. FMLA doesn't go back in time indefinitely (in terms of job protection,) and ideally you give them 30 days' notice. You don't need to turn them in at the same time - get stuff filled in as soon as you can by each doctor separately.

FMLA runs concurrent with disability time and concurrent across all certifications - that is, FMLA gives you 480 hours a year of not-being-at-work and still-not-getting-fired, and then FMLA drops off into the dust. Be very mindful of this, because it might not be a "year" in the sense of "2012" but rather a "year" in the sense of "September 4th, 2012 to September 3rd, 2012." Or a "year" in terms of "one year ago from today, and today is always a different day." That's the employer's call; they're just not supposed to keep changing their minds.

You can learn more about your rights and responsibilities from this form (there are blank spots for the employer to check off when they have to pick between alternatives) and from the FMLA poster.

Make sure to follow all your employer's rules about calling off. Make sure you don't take time off that isn't explained on the forms (that is, if the form says "will need one or two days every month," do not be taking two straight weeks off.)

You might have to pay your doctor, or your dad's doctor, to fill out the forms.
posted by SMPA at 8:16 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @SMPA hmmm. I do know that when I asked our FMLA benefit admin, they said that the time off I took from my mom (3 days) will be taken off any future FMLA for the year. So for FMLA on two claims, does that mean then only 6 weeks for each reason?
posted by stormpooper at 8:52 AM on September 4, 2012

You get 480 hours per year. It might be divided up like this:

Reason 1: 480 hours
Reason 2: nothing, because you already used 480 hours

Or like this:

Reason 1: 16 hours
Reason 2: 314 hours
left over: 150 hours

Or any other way. There are people who work for my employer who have five or six or seven FMLA certifications - one for the hip replacement surgery, one for the kid's car accident, one for the asthma, one for the mom's time in the rehab center... sometimes people get a certification that says they could be gone all day every day, but they never take any time off at all.
posted by SMPA at 3:20 PM on September 4, 2012

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