Nearing the 2 year mark, in occupational rehab but it's not going smoothly

Hi, this is my second time posting here and I find it a wealth of information and support.

I’ve been approved for an occupational rehab program with an occupational therapist, and I’ve had a couple of sessions so far. I’ve tried following the instructions from the OT, and while helpful, they don’t seem to be getting me any closer to being ready to work any kind of reasonable employment. I’m still struggling with the same things I have been for years, in spite of many kinds of treatments and following medical advice.

The case manager says I’ve been approved for a few more sessions, but it’s unlikely that the rehab program is going to get me well enough to work. Of course, they already said that they’re not going to pay benefits beyond the change of definition date, which makes me wonder… If someone is willing to try almost all treatments and and they fail to bring about meaningful improvement, and they also make a sincere effort at rehab, and that doesn’t work either, doesn’t that mean that person really isn’t able to work in a reasonable position?

I mean, the criteria is a reasonable position based on my experience and education, that pays at least ⅔ of my original income. Right now, I could probably work part time in a lower stress environment that gives me some flexibility in start and end times. I’m sure there are jobs like that out there, but I’d end up making way less than the ⅔ in the policy.

So yeah… they admit rehab isn’t going to work, but yet still want to kick me off DI at the 2 year mark. WTF?

I’ll try calling a union rep tomorrow and see if they can help. After that, should I be getting a lawyer?

Get the free consult:

Appeal their decision to cut you off at the 2 yr mark. Ask them to provide medical documentation from a doctor that states you can return to work. My guess is they won’t be able to provide it.
Be careful with their treatment people. They work for the insurance company and I’ve had my share of issues. Make your complaints heard about it therapy not working for you and make your case. Get your doctor on board too. They hire some of the worst people who write false reports to serve the insurance company. Document everything.

So, I talked to my union rep, and they basically just said I have a decision to make, which is whether I want to go back to my old job (bad idea), ask for accommodation and see what can be offered, or leave the employer altogether.

So, it’s either resign and hopefully get a meagre medical pension (it would be very small supplement to any income I have later on), OR work with the employer to see what kind of accommodation could be made in order to work within my limitations.

This doesn’t sound right. I know I could probably do some kind of work, but not full time, and nothing too demanding and stressful. Routine, steady workflow would be best. Of course, in the policy, that could still fall under “totally disabled”, because I might not be making enough money to hit the 2/3 threshold.

I know lawyers will say to go to your union first, but what if my union doesn’t understand the policy very well?

Why would you not want to ask for accommodation and see if you can be accommodated? Your employer has a duty under law to do what it takes to accommodate your disability right up to the point of undue hardship. Exercise your rights!

I agree completely. I got in touch with management as well, and we’ll have a meeting to see what accommodations can be made. I absolutely can’t go back to my old position, but a change of position and or location is a possibility.

There’s only one problem though: I’m not actually better. Despite many kinds of treatments, I feel worse now than I did when I went on leave. So, this is my dilemma. I can try to return to work and possibly fail, or I can fight insurance to stay on longer than 2 years.

I tried to return four or five times and failed so you know what I would do. :slight_smile: If there is a chance I’d take it. If you aren’t able to succeed it also strengthend your case if you tried your best.

If you don’t mind me asking, what happened with the insurance after a failed return to work?

It continues and the insurer agreed to backdate my date of onset of disability to the first period that I had to go off work.

As a former occupational therapist before becoming a lawyer, I can say that it is likely the OT you are working with will 100% appreciate you giving a sincere effort. When you do so the professionals will sometimes say things in your favour. It is possible there return to work was focused only. on your former employment, but they are trying to say you should be able to do “other employment”.

Either way, reach out to our firm or another firm that also focuses on long-term disability cases. They may stop your benefits temporarily but a good disability law firm will know what it will take for them to reverse that decision.

Good luck and keep giving a full effort. It will pay off in the end.


David Brannen

Disability Lawyer with Resolute Legal

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Thank you! I’ll continue trying my best, making an effort to follow the recommendations. I’ll hope for the best, but I agree a legal consult might be a good idea soon

I was thinking… I am currently in the process of returning to work, and I need my doctor to clarify a few things before I can start working, even in a temporary position.

Without going into too much detail, there are a few different sites I can go to, including the one that I previously worked at. Obviously, going back to my old position there is out of the question, but what about other jobs at that site? I talked to my union rep and he said to just be honest with my doctor about it. That’s not bad advice, but I’m conflicted.

I feel like going back to that site would put me in another bad place, so to speak. I’m leaning towards not going back to that site, but I’m worried about being too restricted to return to anything at all. I’m scared that they’ll say nothing is suitable. Not a fun thing to think about…

Hi Bender, if it’s all right to ask how is your return to work going? Hope you were able to find something for you. My return to work is coming up and I am ball of nerves. I don’t feel ready either.

How’s it going? deep breath

Well… it’s slow as molasses, basically. I started this process in October, and I still haven’t started. I’ve had a few teleconferences and we’ve hashed out most of the details. I’m going to be starting part time, then gradually working up to full time. On the plus side, I won’t be around the toxic work environment that I left. Unfortunately, I’m going to be working in a temporary (the term temporary could be 2 months, 4 months, a year, two years…) position that I have zero experience in. It’s not a highly skilled job. At least it’ll be quiet and easy with everyone working from home now…

Thanks for willing to share Bender. I’m sure it’s not easy and frustrating, I know I feel this way. It’s good you can look at the bright side of somethings. I’m stressed about what will be my actual option and become quiet and heart pounds whenever my rehab brings it up. I’m not in a union or feel ready at all to go but I’m trying to be open minded about trying and I do really want to get better. I just feel thy are being very pushy about going back and do not understand. Good luck and hope for good things for you and works out in your best interest!

Caro, were you in a union? Were your attempts also in your old job or in something totally different than what you did like Bender’s current situation?

Not in a union. It was going back to my old job. I had a job I loved and I really, really, really did not want to give it up. But it became clear that I was not going to be able to do it ever again.

So… I started a temporary position while they supposedly figure out what kind of restrictions and accommodation I’d need. At first, they said I’d start working in a pretty decent position that I have experience in. For some reason, that didn’t pan out, so they had me start in a different job that I’ve never done before and absolutely despise doing. I find the job exhausting and humiliating.

Yes, it’s “temporary”, but it could be weeks, months, or more. Officially I’m only there for 3 months, but I really fear that may be extended.

Any ideas? I’m starting back part time and even that I find is a lot for me. I’m also feeling pressured to work full time hours, even though I know it’ll put me right back where I started.

Sorry to hear it’s been difficult. Have you been talking to your doctor about your difficulties with returning to work and this job? It’d be important to document if not already through you doctor. Can the union do anything about the length of time in this temporary role and required hours?

I only have two thoughts, one is to get a consult to understand what you do and don’t have to accept (I didn’t initially understand that “any occupation” has a lot of limits and is not literally any occupation), and two is that ending up back where you started will at least provide you with good evidence that you are not able to work.

The temporary position I’m in pays the same hourly rate, but I’m starting out working 3 days a week. Honestly, I feel like that’s all I can handle right now. Well, especially since I have to get up incredibly early for this job (nobody told me about that beforehand).

I wonder if I’d be able to perform a different job full time. You know, one that has more normal hours and is more in line with my education and experience. Right now, there’s no way. I’d like to try though. I really want to be working, but not at a job that leaves me worse off than before!