Chronic Serious Health Conditions
are covered by FMLA leave if the same condition requires periodic treatments or doctor visits , if the condition continues for an extended period of time, or if the incapacity comes and goes sporadically instead of continually. Typically, this category of FMLA leave is used for cases of asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, or other known conditions that result in episodic incapacity.
What About The Family And Medical Leave Act
An employee who is covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act is entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave per year for his or her own serious health condition, among other reasons. So, an employee whose disability also qualifies as a serious health condition under the FMLA may be entitled to take 12 weeks off to recuperate.
An employee who is unable to return to work after using up the 12 weeks of FMLA leave may be entitled to more time off as a reasonable accommodation. The employee’s entitlement depends on whether additional leave would create an undue hardship, considering the factors listed above. For example, an employee who needs a couple of additional weeks off to recover from surgery might be entitled to that leave as a reasonable accommodation, particularly if the employer has granted lengthy leaves for other purposes. However, an employee who is unable to do the job following FMLA leave, and doesn’t know whether or if it will ever be possible to return to work, is almost certainly not entitled to take open-ended time off as an accommodation.
Federal Court Holds That Carpal Tunnel Syndrome May Constitute A Disability Under The Ada
More and more ADA cases stem from garden variety workers compensation claims, and disability discrimination claims now make up one quarter of all EEOC charges.
The case of Gibbs v. ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist LEXIS 82540 drives home the point that many claimants with work-related injuries will now find coverage under the ADA following the passage of the ADA Amendments Act.
Olivia Gibbs worked for ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc. as a Sales and Service Representative.; She also had a part-time job at CVS.; She was injured working for CVS and had a nerve conduction study which showed carpal tunnel syndrome.; Her doctor attributed the carpal tunnel condition to the repetitive nature of her job with Alliance.; She filed a claim for workers compensation benefits with the State of Kansas.
Gibbs had surgery on her right wrist on December 3, 2008 and returned to work nine days later with restrictions against using her right hand.; Plaintiff claimed that she was forced to continue to use her right hand in spite of the restrictions while working in a light-duty position because she could not perform key strokes with just her left hand.; She wrote on December 13, 2008 to her human resources manager requesting a different light duty assignment.
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Workers’ Compensation As Exclusive Remedy
Workers’ compensation is a tradeoff: in exchange for the employeeforfeiting his or her right to sue the employer for the damages causedby carpal tunnel syndrome, the employee can receive benefits forwork-related injuries without regard to fault. This is known as the”compensation bargain.”
Thus, workers’ compensation may be the only means of recovery forcarpal tunnel syndrome. This means that you cannot initiate a civillawsuit against your employer to recover damages. Instead, you must filea claim through your state’s administrative workers’ compensationagency.
How Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treated
As we noted above, the sooner you begin treatments for CTS, the better the long-term prognosis will be. Your doctor will probably first treat any underlying causes of CTS such as arthritis, high blood pressure or diabetes. Other treatments for CTS will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatments are nonsurgical and surgical. CTS treatment is currently one of the most common surgical procedures in America.
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An Employees Serious Health Condition
If an employee is too ill, injured, or otherwise medically unable to perform their job functions, that employee is entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave to recuperate. Likewise, if an employee is undergoing medical treatment requiring absences from work, they are considered unable to perform the necessary functions of their job, so are awarded FMLA leave.
What Medical Conditions Are Covered Under Fmla
The federally mandated Family Medical Leave Act allows working employees to take unpaid leave from work, with their job and benefits remaining protected upon their return. Employees who are eligible for FMLA leave may take up to 12 weeks of leave in one year. There are six defined categories that fall under FMLA coverage for eligibility, under which your employer must ensure a job at the same level you had before your leave and with the same benefits and insurance when you return.
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Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Covered
While there are no recent statistics, I know from my experience that the;majority of claims filed by injured workers in Nevada for carpal tunnel syndrome are initially denied.;;Carpal tunnel syndrome presents as numbness, tingling, and pain primarily in the first three fingers and the thumb side of the hand.; It results from compression of the median nerve that travels through the wrist.; Symptoms often occur or worsen at night and after sleeping.; In a typical case, the injured worker begins to have symptoms, and only after months of hoping that the symptoms will go away in time, files a claim when the symptoms are so bad that they interfere with work.
From the injured workers perspective, because symptoms get worse with work activity, work must be the cause of the problem.; However, when the worker reports the problem to her employer, and then goes to the designated clinic to file a claim, the examining physician usually is unwilling to state that the problem is work-related.; Most often, the diagnosis on the C-4 claim form is “tendinitis”, and the doctor puts a question mark by the question asking whether the occupational disease or injury is work-related.
What Is The Typical Carpal Tunnel Prognosis
In most cases, the typical prognosis for CTS is a good one. This is especially the case if CTS is diagnosed and treated early. Depending on the severity of a workers CTS, and how quickly the symptoms are treated, a worker might be off the job for as little as three weeks up to three months
Once a worker is diagnosed with CTS, doctors will often recommend lifestyle changes. They may recommend more rest between repetitive tasks. Doctors may also recommend that the worker be checked for high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis or stress. All these factors can influence whether or not a worker suffers from CTS on the job along with the job tasks mentioned above.
These lifestyle changes, along with treatment such as physical therapy, can often bring long-term healing to milder cases of CTS and may eliminate symptoms entirely. More severe cases of CTS will require other forms of treatment and even surgery, which can result in lengthy recovery periods.
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Family Medical Leave Act
1. What is the Family and Medical Leave Act ?
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that provides unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees, both male and female, in order to care for their families or themselves for specified family and medical conditions.
FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 work-weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child; care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition; or their own serious health condition which causes an inability to work. If you qualify and have unused FMLA leave time, your employer cannot deny you FMLA leave.
2. Which employers are covered by FMLA?
FMLA covers private sector employers with 50 or more employees. Part-time employees are counted toward the 50 employee minimum. Public employers are covered regardless of the number of workers they employee.
3. Which employees are eligible for FMLA?
To be eligible, an employee must have worked for the employer at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours within a 12-month period before the leave begins. The employer must employ at least 50 workers at or within 75 miles of the work site.
4. What is a “serious health condition” under FMLA?
5. How does an employer confirm a “serious health condition?”
Physical Therapy And Alternative Therapies
Physical therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment of CTS for people with mild symptoms. Yoga is another therapy that has used to improve strength in the hands and reduce pain in mild cases of CTS. Acupuncture and chiropractic practices have also been tried but their effectiveness has not been proven.
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How Does Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Affect Your Ability To Work
Because of the nature of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may find yourself unable to grasp items, lift or carry things, and suffer such pain and limited mobility that you cant do simple tasks you would normally take for granted, such as brushing your hair, signing your name, or opening a bottle or jar. Weakness, numbness, and tingling of the hand can keep you from doing tasks such as filing documents, or sorting records.
Because the pain involved with carpal tunnel syndrome is so severe, you may have to wear a splint on the wrist that is affected. Environmental changes, such as changes in your work duties, may be required to help you regain motion of the wrist and alleviate the pain.
If you are suffering from an extreme case of the syndrome, you may need to undergo surgery to cut the ligament and prevent it from pushing up against the nerve and causing your pain and discomfort.
Adoption Or Foster Care Placement
Similar to the leave after the birth of a child, any eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of continuous leave to care for and bond with a new child in their home after adoption or placement within the foster care system. If necessary, the leave may begin before the official adoption or placement date to allow employees to attend necessary court dates, meetings or travel as the process requires.
This leave expires 12 months after the placement or adoption date, and must be taken in one block of time unless the employer and employee agree to other arrangements.
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What Is A Trial Work Program
The SSA has a trial work program for those who receive Social Security Disability benefits. Claimants are allowed up to 9 trial months of work which dont have to be consecutive during a 60-month period. During the trial work period, the beneficiary who receives disability benefits is permitted to test his or her ability to work and still receive disability benefits. During the trial work period of 9 months, you will continue to receive disability benefits as usual while you are working.
Any month in which you work and earn more than $910 in 2020, it is considered a trial work month. While a trial work period consists of a total of 9 months, only those months in which you exceed that limit currently $910 counts toward the trial work period. The SSA will review the limits every year and they adjust the totals. You should check the financial limits before you start doing any kind of work if you receive disability benefits.
The months that count toward your trial work period dont have to be consecutive. Instead, it is any month in a rolling 60-month calendar in which the SSA is calculating trail work periods, and that will potentially count toward your 9 months. After the trial work period has been used, the SSA will review your earnings to determine if you were able to maintain what is called substantial gainful activity during that time. SGA tells them if you can earn a gainful living.
What To Do After A Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis
If your doctor recently diagnosed you with carpal tunnel syndrome, or you suspect that you may have it, it is very important to record everything about your condition. Symptoms, amount of pain, any work dates you missed and all medical appointments could have an effect on your claims outcome.
It is also very important to consult a lawyer in the beginning stages. You have to fill out the disability application correctly, or your provider could deny benefits and prolong the care and relief that you need to recover. We have seen many denials based on someone checking the wrong box on the disability insurance application form.
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Not Every Illness Or Ailment Counts As An Fmla
By Lisa Guerin, J.D.
Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act , eligible employees have the right to take time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition or to recuperate from their own serious health condition, among other things. Colds and other minor health concerns don’t typically qualify for FMLA leave; the law is intended to provide time off only for more serious ailments. As you’ll see, however, the rules about what does and does not qualify as a serious health condition can get a bit complicated.
Consult With A Disability Attorney
If you are disabled because of carpal tunnel syndrome and you are considering returning to the workforce, you should consult with a disability attorney. A disability lawyer who handles claims in your area will be able to review the details of your situation and determine the best way to proceed. Complete the form for a Free Case Evaluation.
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How Do I File For Benefits For Carpal Tunnel
If you are unable to work and you are now ready to apply for SSDI benefits for your carpal tunnel, there are several options you have for starting the process.
You can go online to the SSA website to start the application process. Another option would be to call the toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 to speak with a representative and start your application. You can also go to your nearest SSA office to star the application process by meeting face-to-face with an employee of the SSA. Regardless of how you start the process, providing thorough documentation is the key to supporting and proving your claim. Yo can find more information. For more information about medically documenting your carpal tunnel, please see our page:
You will need to provide all your medical records, physician notes, evidence of restrictions and limitations, test results, treatment that you have undergone and the results, and documentation that shows how your carpal tunnel syndrome has negatively impacted your life and affected your ability to work.
Because the process is complicated and time consuming, you may choose to have an advocate or an attorney to represent you. The average claim takes five months to gain approval, and you can be denied benefits twice, but you can appeal those decisions. An administrative law hearing is the last step.
Family And Medical Leave Act Of 1993
The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any twelve-month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member, or in the event of the employees own serious health condition. Employees can take leave:
- In a continuous block.
- On an intermittent basis .
While FMLA leave is generally unpaid, employees may choose to use accrued paid leave concurrently with the FMLA in certain circumstances. The ability of the employee to substitute accrued paid leave is determined by the terms and conditions of the employers normal leave policy.
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The Difference Between A Serious Health Condition Under The Fmla And A Disability Under The Ada
Its bad enough that employment laws have such confusing acronyms FLSA, FMLA, ADEA, ADA but why do they have to use different terms for the same thing? Dont serious health condition and disability refer to the same thing? As it turns out, they do not. While both a serious health condition and a disability have the potential to interfere with an employees attendance and job performance, they are different concepts and the existence of each has very different consequences for both employers and employees.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to grant eligible employees a total of twelve workweeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any twelve-month period because the employee needs to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, or because of the employees own serious health condition where the condition makes the employee unable to perform his or her job . Thus, the purpose of the FMLA is to give employees a reasonable, but limited amount of time in which to take care of their own or a family members health issues without losing their job.
A Serious Health Condition under the FMLA
The FMLAs definition of a serious health condition is a complicated one. A serious health condition means an illness, injury or impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves
Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Major Life Activities
What Every Employer Should Know About The Family And Medical Leave Act
Congress enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993 to respond to growing concern over job security for people with health problems and to assist working parents. The Act is an attempt to promote family integrity by balancing the demands of the workplace with family needs while also accommodating legitimate employer interests. To accomplish these purposes, the FMLA creates a set of substantive employee rights and proscribes discrimination or retaliation against employees that exercise those rights.
The first question employers are presented with is whether the FMLA applies to or the employee in question. FMLA coverage only extends to companies that have had fifty or more employees for at least twenty weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Only employees that have worked for at least twelve months and for at least 1250 hours during the preceding twelve month period are entitled to take a leave.
The regulations promulgated under the FMLA state that employee eligibility is confirmed when the leave is requested, an employer may not later challenge eligibility. Further, if an employer fails to notify an employee of his ineligibility within two days of the leave request, the employee becomes eligible for leave. At least three courts, including the Seventh Circuit in a July 24, 2000 opinion, have struck down this particular regulation as “contrary to the statute.”
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