If you’re returning to work after taking short- or long-term disability leave, whether it’s because of a physical disability or a chronic illness, you may have the right to ask for reasonable accommodations if you can’t perform your job in the same way. Although you’re not required to disclose your condition to your employer or coworkers unless you choose to, there could be advantages to letting your employer know.
If your employer is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you can request accommodations to help you return to work. You may be able to work from home or ask for a flexible schedule, or your employer could assign you to a different role. Find more ADA regulations at ADA.gov.
Asking for a little flexibility from your employer can benefit both of you. Your employer would save the time and expense of recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee—and you’d get to continue working. The Job Accommodation Network reports that most accommodations cost employers no extra money, and about 3 out of 4 employers who did implement accommodations said they were very or extremely effective.1
In some cases, your condition could prevent you from going back to your previous job in any role. Consider looking into other jobs you can do or getting training to start a new line of work. You may be eligible for training and other services from Vocational Rehabilitation—a program funded by the US Department of Education to help people with disabilities find and keep jobs.
Retraining or finding another job is helpful for many people, but sometimes going back to work in the near future isn’t an option. Filing for disability benefits from your long-term disability insurance policy is a solution. Applying for disability benefits from Social Security could be an option as well.