Thursday, August 5, 2010

I am so grateful for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). When my endo took over this year, I was unable to continue working. This was difficult for numerous (obvious) reasons. With my health in question, it was particularly scary since I held our insurance through my job. It was essential for me to remain insured during this time of frequent doctor and hospital visits.

I originally had no doubt that I would be able to return to work before my FMLA ran out. Unfortunately, I did not foresee all that was to come. (See previous posts for more info since it's a longgggg story). My employer approved an extension to my medical leave for one additional month. And when I still wasn't well enough to work, I was granted another month of medical leave. This was a HUGE blessing because I was reaching my out of pocket maximum for the year on my policy. I was able to retain my insurance plan, but I had to pay the entire monthly payment instead of sharing the cost with my employer. Still, it was going to save me thousands of dollars in the long run.

As the end of the second leave extension approached, I was still too ill to work. I supplied my employer with another note from my doctor explaining my condition. My employer responded with a letter stating that I had "voluntarily abandoned" my position by not returning to work. You see, they are attempting to deny my right to unemployment benefits by claiming I chose to quit my job.

Interesting, huh? Does this mean, in their opinion, that I chose to spend the past six months of my life in agonizing, debilitating pain? Did I voluntarily sign up for endometriosis so severe that my doctor called it "Stage V" endo? I don't remember signing up for this, in fact I wouldn't wish this on anyone, ever. So I would hardly call this a voluntarily situation.

I've applied for unemployment. Now I have to wait it out. I have no idea how long it will take once they attempt to deny the claim. I hope they aren't allowed to get away with it.

(Shhh...the truth is I never liked my job. I took it for the paycheck. And I needed to go back for the paycheck again, especially after six months with no income. This economy is very scary, as we all know by now. It is not the best time to be looking for a job).

While I look for a new job, we will have to rely on COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). It is crazy expensive, but at least we will remain insured. So I need to be grateful for this too.

I know better things are to come. I am beyond blessed with my post-surgery recovery, considering how severe my endo had become. I am choosing to see this as an opportunity to find a job I can love. (Or at least one I don't hate). I have anxiety...but I am not going to let it get me. All I can do is remain positive and keep looking!


Amanda said...

Hi Jenn,

thank you for popping over to the Patch and introducing yourself :)

I am so sorry to hear your work troubles, I know that all too well and cannot apply for unemployment help because of voluntarily leaving my job due to my health, which makes life so much harder than it already is (as if it isn't hard enough with Endo, right?)

I am keeping my fingers crossed for you that this work issue gets sorted soon x

Jenn said...

Thanks Amanda!

And thank you for stopping by here to introduce yourself to me. :)

It is hard enough without all of this extra stuff.

I'm really happy to be following your blog!

Alanna Klapp said...

Good luck, Jenn, it will all work out!! Everything happens for a reason and I have faith that this will lead to something better for you, a new chapter. :)

Jenn said...

Thanks Alanna! I have faith too. It helps to know that you do too! :)

Jeanne said...


First, let me say that I love your positive attitude. From expressing gratitude for having been able to take advantage of FMLA to being grateful for the COBRA coverage to your outlook as far as this being an opportunity to find a job you love, you have a great attitude about everything.

I'm so sorry for the stress you are going through.

I know all about COBRA, having been on it multiple times. I know how expensive it is (scary expensive) but I also know how much more expensive things would be without it. One just does what one has to do.

I know how very difficult it is to pay for insurance with COBRA. I also know that without COBRA, my family would have been in such dire straits... Honestly, I don't even like to think about it.

For the last couple of years, we've been paying 100% of the premium... not because of COBRA but because of my husband working at a job with no benefits - where his work got billed through his consulting firm. When you're self-employed like he is, there is no employer sharing the cost of health care.

This was painfully pricey but we've done what we needed to do. However, now that his job ended a couple of weeks ago... we have to find a way to pay for this (and mortgage, food, gas, etc.)

Since he has been working in this self-employed capacity, it means he is not eligible for unemployment benefits.

It sounds like your former employer is not following the law by labeling your position "voluntarily abandoned". Obviously, I didn't see the doctor note but I can only imagine that it made your medical condition clear.

I am no expert on fighting to get unemployment that you're entitled to. There has to be a way, though.

Is there a labor board you can complain to? Can you ask your doctor's office if they've run into a situation like this before?

Maybe they have ideas for resources for handling such a situation. How about the people at the unemployment office itself? Can anyone there help you?

It's my understanding that when a person receives unemployment benefits, the money comes from the former employer.

So, it would make sense (if they are unethical) for your former employer to try to deny your right to unemployment benefits because it's money they won't have to pay out if you don't fight it.

Oh, Jenn... Stage V endo? :( I'm so sorry. Between the severity of your endo and the fact that your surgery had been postponed, it's no wonder you needed more time off work!

As far as not liking your job is concerned, there are lots of people who don't like their jobs. That doesn't make you any less eligible for unemployment benefits.

You're right that this isn't the best time to be looking for a job. We feel that looming over our household now too.

Your positive attitude is going to take you a LONG way! So, hang in there!


Jenn said...

Hey Jeanne,

Thanks so much for your comment!

I am still working on the unemployment. I was doing some leg work yesterday, trying to prove that my former employer is wrong. What they are doing is definitely unethical & shady. I like my odds right now though, I think I have enough information (emails and such).

My doctor's office was appalled when I explained the situation to them. I'm gonna work on a post about the whole thing soon.

I'm really sorry that you know all too well what I'm going through. My husband works as an independent as well, so he does not get help with health insurance either. Yikes.

I am still looking into other agencies that may be able to help with my cause. I am hoping that unemployment will simply decide that I am qualified and that will be that. If not, I will figure out my next move.

Thanks for your support. You have mine too. We will both get through this, just like we have everything else. Praise God.

Thank you!

Jeanne said...


I am glad you aren't allowing your former employer to try to bully you out of your benefits. From what you described, I kind of figured your doctor's office might have that reaction. Best of luck getting things sorted out! Here's to job seekers finding great jobs soon!


P.S. I agree with Alanna... I'm a big believer in the phrase "everything happens for a reason". Hang in there! :)

Jenn said...

Thanks Jeanne!

Everything does happen for a reason. I am sticking up for myself and doing everything I can. Then I gotta let the cards fall where they may.

Go job seekers!