- Best Types of Work for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Administrative and Secretarial Work
- Freelancing or Consulting
- Running Your Own Business
- Professional Occupations
- Staying on the Job With RA
- My RA Made Getting a Job Difficult, Until I Wrote a Post on Facebook
- Rheumatoid arthritis – support and reasonable adjustments at work
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Information for Social Security Disability
- Disabling Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Applying for Social Security Disability Due to Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Why It’s Difficult to Keep Your Job If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Best Types of Work for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
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For years, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were more likely than people without the condition to change jobs, lose jobs, retire early, reduce work hours, or struggle to find a job in the first place, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also reports that at least 1 in 4 people with arthritis have work limitations.
Thankfully this situation has the potential to change, as new RA medications and disease management tools have been introduced. “I think a person with RA could have just about any job within reason if the right accommodations are made,” says Karen Jacobs, OT, EdD, an occupational therapist and clinical professor at Boston University. As a board-certified ergonomist, Jacobs examines the tools and equipment people need to do their jobs properly.
New RA medicines are a part of this story. A study published in October 2013 in Arthritis Care & Research found that people with moderate to severe RA who took biologic medication were significantly more productive at work than people with RA who didn’t take the biologic.
When it comes to your job, Jacobs strongly recommends that people with RA take time and care to identify which work accommodations they need; the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to then make reasonable accommodations.
What’s more, the Job Accommodation Network is an invaluable resource for exploring your options, Jacobs says, because it can give ideas about exactly what you can ask for to get your job done. For example, some people with RA have light sensitivities that may be dealt with by installing low-wattage or natural lighting sources. Others may have sensitivity to temperatures that can be addressed by adding a desk heater or fan next to the desk, or offering dress code flexibility. A person with skin irritation from the job can ask for protective clothing.
Anyone can speak to a Jobs Accommodation Network counselor for free, describe job challenges, and get advice on what to ask for. “Your doctor or an occupational therapist (OT) can help you with figure out what accommodations you need,” Jacobs says. The American Occupational Therapy Association also has OT-related resources and listings.
An OT can set up an assessment to analyze your tasks and movements through the course of the work day and determine which activities may be making your RA better or worse — and what to do about them. “This assessment can be a very powerful tool for a person experiencing pain on the job,” Jacobs says.
Once you get to the point where you can say, “This is what I need at work,” be forthright in asking your supervisor for help,” Jacobs says.
That said, some types of work are easier than others for people with RA. If you’re thinking about a job shift, either within or outside of your current company, consider these RA-friendly work situations:
Administrative and Secretarial Work
Jobs that primarily take place at a desk can be modified for people with RA, says Anne Hickley, PhD, a small-business owner in the United Kingdom and a blogger at Pollyanna Penguin. When Hickley was diagnosed with RA at age 39 she “already had things like a wrist rest for typing and another for using the mouse.” She sometimes uses elasticized hand gloves that leave her fingers free to type.
What’s more, computer monitors and keyboards, as well as your desk space, can be adjusted to different heights and paired with ergonomic furniture, Jacobs says.
Freelancing or Consulting
Dallas-based corporate communications expert Carla Kienast became a consultant after her last employer eliminated her position, but she says contracting is a good match for her RA. She was diagnosed in 2008 and says it’s been difficult to control.
“As a consultant, I’m better able to manage my hours,” she says. “And while I have a ‘real’ office, I can also work from home to be more comfortable if I wish.” With so much work experience behind her, she had the expertise and contacts to build off of.
Freelancing does have some drawbacks, including needing to get your own health insurance individually, which might be difficult for some people, Kienast says.
Jacobs recommends doing a careful analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats before going freelance or starting your own business.
Running Your Own Business
Hickley says that running her own business has worked well when it comes to managing her RA — although she wasn’t diagnosed with RA until after her business was established. She hasn’t expanded as aggressively as she might have otherwise, she says, but as a small-business owner, she has control over the projects she takes on.
Hickley has also been able to control the pace of her work, and can sub-contract if she needs additional staff. Two employees have been with her for years, an investment she says has paid off in many ways.
Doctors, veterinarians, scientists, lawyers, and other highly trained professionals can usually find ways to continue practicing despite slow-downs or physical limitations from RA. “Once you have all that knowledge — the training, education, and expertise — you can train assistants to help,” Jacobs says.
For example, a veterinarian can recruit and train a veterinary assistant capable of lifting heavy animals, performing certain procedures, and carrying out various tasks under your direction.
Or, an office professional who might otherwise have to type a lot can use aids such as dictation software that translates spoken ideas into text, she says. Smart phones are now loaded with voice recording options to more easily respond to email and texts as well.
Staying on the Job With RA
If you love your work, it pays to think of creative accommodations — such as flexible scheduling, work sharing, and ergonomic office design — to keep you productive and on the job.
Turn to your Human Resources Department if discussing the situation with your supervisor doesn’t prove effective, Jacobs advises. “You want to avoid being confrontational, though. You just want to negotiate you work situation, and your rights.”
Additional reporting by Andrea Peirce
My RA Made Getting a Job Difficult, Until I Wrote a Post on Facebook
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) struck me from nowhere when I was 28. It took a year for the initial shock of the intense symptoms to pass, and a firm diagnosis to be made. It was a year of limbo, a year of intense pain, uncertainty and irritations. If I am honest, the following year since that one has been much the same.
RA has been confronting in many ways, but one of the most significant irritations has been trying to accept that my mind and my body just do not run parallel anymore. My mind runs wild zigzags, up and down, and darting across my body with its boundless energy and enthusiasm of a puppy. My body ambles along, drooping and sagging at the weight of its pain like an elderly, sleepy cat.
I was going through my wardrobe the other day and I shoved all my clothes to one side. Looking past my clothes, I saw a three-page list of goals I blue-tacked to the wall nearly a year ago on a good day.
That’s who I am.
I am the girl with the intense desire to be moving forward, taking adventures, getting the absolute most from every moment within every day. I was in love with life, and I woke up every day blown away by the amount of time and the opportunities there were in a day to achieve the things I wanted.
I started thinking about all the ways RA has changed me and all the things it has taken from me. I started to beat myself up for how unrecognizable my life is now. I started beating myself up over the fact that I should have had 10 times the amount of goals crossed off that list by now.
Seven months ago I gave up the second job I have had to give up since the onset of RA, due to being physically incapable of completing my tasks there. My self-esteem is so intricately woven into having a job ever since my son started school four years ago.
When RA took away my ability to do the physically demanding jobs I have always done, I could have easily given up. I could’ve easily decided that work wasn’t going to work for me. I sat on the lunge and mind began to consider, “Is this it for me?”
But it couldn’t be. I was about to turn 30. I have so many years left. In a way, life is just beginning for me.
So I got up of the lounge and I accepted that as long as I have an ounce of fight left in me, I am going to use it.
I fought for seven months to get a new job. I was in intense pain from my RA, the fatigue associated with it, and my second five-week bout of pneumonia and pleurisy for the year. I could’ve felt sorry for myself or I could’ve given up, but instead I used the time to apply for hundreds of jobs, I hobbled, painful laps of shopping centers handing out resumes and introducing myself with a smile.
I applied for every job vacancy that appeared online, constantly being rejected due to my limitations or lack of skills due to needing to change to a less physical career. People were friendly, but no body wanted me. The rejection stung.
In one of the most dehumanising experiences of my life, I fought repeatedly, in-person at a government organization every few days, for two months, to get access I was entitled to, to a disability employment services provider. I then met with her every two weeks and applied for over 10 jobs every day, on my own, every vacancy I could find.
Seven months later, exhausted, humiliated, on the brink of giving up, I set my pride and ego aside and further humiliated myself. In a last-ditch effort, just short of standing on the side of the road with a sign, I posted a humble, honest post on a local Facebook page – with 50,000+ members.
I wrote about my condition, my struggle to get work, my qualities and experience and I just asked for someone to give me a chance – an interview, or a trial shift. Not a job handed to me on a plate, just an opportunity to prove myself.
I felt worthless and left behind and I was afraid to check the responses when they started to roll in.
The response was surprisingly positive and I ended up being invited to an interview.
I got an extremely good job, a job I never could have imagined. A job with amazing opportunities to grow and advance. I got a job that is the polar opposite to my previous jobs – I now work in a corporate world, wearing beautiful clothing at a desk in an air-conditioned skyscraper in the middle of the city, worlds apart from what I am used to.
In this job my illness is known and my limitations are known. I am in an office with many other people with autoimmune diseases, people who are patient and can truly understand. I don’t feel out of place when I have to wear compression gloves to type or I hobble to the bathroom in front of everyone.
After my first two weeks my boss took me in for a meeting where I thanked her for taking pity on me, after seeing my post and giving me the job. She replied, “Don’t ever think I gave you this job. I didn’t have the right to hand this job to you. I had a pile of resumes and you got this job entirely on your own merits. Your written communication skills in your Facebook post, the qualities you displayed in your interview and the way you showed how perfectly you would fit in with our team. In the last two weeks you’ve already proven yourself over and over again, so, don’t think for a second you didn’t achieve this entirely on your own merit.”
Then something occurred to me.
I still fight.
I still achieve goals. I am slower, the process is longer and harder but really, that should make achieving my goals mean more to me, not less.
With the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy, I crossed, “Get a job,” off my list after seven months. For once, I didn’t wear myself down over the things I haven’t achieved yet. Instead I thought about all the tiny, enormous goals I had to achieve within that goal, to get a job, they would amount to pages, I am sure.
I thought about all the dehumanising appointments and the mornings my self worth was non existent but I still had a shower, dressed nicely, wandered around with a smile that masked my pain and fought for my future.
It took hundreds of little goals to achieve that big one and it was all on my own merit.
I have RA and I always will, but I also want an enormous, full life. I want to make something of myself and tick things off my list. I want to feel fulfilled, and now I know that is possible.
It’s not going to look the way it used to. My body will never consistently be the part of me that zigzags with enthusiasm and energy. It’s not going to take the same amount of time. Sometimes it’s going to feel exhausting. Sometimes I am going to have to take time out and rest for days, weeks or months and give up temporarily, and curl up on my bed like a sleepy, old cat.
But sometimes, if I can set thoughts of time to the side and focus on the bigger picture – I will see the value in my slow, ambling achievements and I’ll eventually get to cross something off that massive list…And I’ll never have to feel like I don’t get to live a fulfilling life.
There is a certain empowerment and pride that comes with having to fight so hard for things that I would have taken for granted in the past.
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Image Point Fr/The disease affects over a million Americans, according to the CDC. Sufferers spend up to $20,000 for treatment each year—yet their joints still swell and stiffen. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes untold pain and difficulty, and can also attack the heart and lungs. If you do suffer from RA, avoiding some foods and upping your intake of others may help. And don’t forget home remedies can often ease the symptoms. However, the potential causes remain murky, though a new study suggests some manufacturing jobs may put people at increased risk.
Researchers have known for a while that factors such as heredity and smoking can increase your chances of developing the disease. Now, in a study published in Arthritis Care & Research, grad student Anna Ilar worked with colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden to investigate whether RA was more common in some occupations than others. “We know from previous research that smoking is a major risk factor for RA, ” she explained. “But it’s also believed that also other airborne exposures may increase the risk of the disease. So that is why we wanted to investigate if there was an increased risk of RA amongst certain occupations.”
Using data from the Epidemiological Investigation Into Rheumatoid Arthritis (the world’s largest study on RA), Anna’s team worked with 3,500 patients with the disease and compared them with 5,500 healthy adults. “We collected information not only through blood samples but also questionnaires, from 1996 until 2014,” she said. The detailed questionnaires allowed the researchers to focus on people’s jobs as the defining factor.
They discovered that men in occupations where they assembled electronics had double the risk of RA. Men who poured concrete or worked as bricklayers had triple the risk, says Ilar.
Women had different workplace risks, she says: “Among women, the only occupational group associated with a slight increased risk was nursing assistants. We could not detect any increased risk among women working within the manufacturing sector and we did not detect an increased risk among registered nurses,” adds Ilar.
This could be because fewer women worked in such jobs, and very few men were nursing assistants; however, further research is needed to take a closer look, Ilar says. The team did conclude that noxious airborne hazards, such as brick or concrete dust, were important factors in increasing the risk of developing RA.
What can you do to protect yourself if you work in a higher-risk occupation? Ilar offered reassurance for anyone who is concerned. “First of all, it’s important to point out that you will not necessarily develop RA just because you had a certain occupation,” she emphasized. But she does advise taking responsibility for your own safety.
“You need to make sure that you have the right protective equipment to keep yourself and others around you safe. Know your rights, and be prepared to speak up or seek help from your manager, or colleagues, or safety delegate if you suspect that the exposure levels from different harmful dusts or chemicals are too high.”
Rheumatoid arthritis – support and reasonable adjustments at work
Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog Thursday, June 25, 2015
How much do you know about rheumatoid arthritis? Almost 700,000 people in the UK suffer from this condition although it is often believed to be a condition that only affects elderly people. The truth is that anyone over 16 can develop rheumatoid arthritis – and each year, 31,000 people are newly diagnosed.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that line joints, causing pain and swelling. Over time, this can damage the joint itself, as well as the surrounding cartilage and bone, meaning that movement becomes increasingly difficult.
It is a chronic condition, so there is no cure, but it does in some cases improve on its own or as a result of treatment. Most people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis will be affected to varying degrees over many years – sufferers may have long periods where their condition is in ‘remission’, and then sudden flare-ups of pain and inflammation can occur. Sufferers will often struggle to continue working in the same way that they did before their diagnoses, as the condition can often be unpredictable.
This means that it is key for employers to speak to employees about the kind of reasonable adjustments they may need (i.e. changes to workloads or working environments). The government’s Access to Work fund is designed to help people and employers cover costs of disabilities that might be a barrier to work. Employees are eligible to receive funding under the scheme if their illness prevents them doing their job normally – which rheumatoid arthritis often does.
The money received under the Access to Work scheme can help make working life much easier for people with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as helping employers with the financial cost of making workplace adjustments. The fund can cover things like equipment adaptation or buying special work equipment, fares to work if an employee struggles to use public transport, a support worker to help you in your workplace, and even disability training awareness for colleagues.
Even without funding through Access to Work, employers with staff suffering with rheumatoid arthritis can still make simple, everyday changes to the workplace to help make work easier. Every person’s condition is different, but some adjustments to consider may be:
- ensuring that good posture is maintained in employees’ job tasks;
- alteration to working hours;
- flexible working (e.g. altering start/finish times, particularly during acute episodes; working additional hours when well to allow for sick time during acute episodes);
- changing tasks or the pace of work to avoid exacerbating the condition;
- allowing for reasonable time off for treatment.
For more information on the effects of arthritis in the workplace, visit the Fit for Work advice hub or call the advice line on 0800 032 6235. To find out more about the Access to Work scheme, visit the website.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Information for Social Security Disability
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the membranes surrounding their joints, causing them to inflame. Although RA can affect anyone, it’s most common in women, people between the ages of 40-60, smokers, and those who have a family history of RA. (Children can also get RA; see our article on getting disability benefits for children with juvenile arthritis.)
Disabling Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the joints of the hands and feet, later progressing to other areas including the knees, hips, and shoulders. The main RA symptoms are warm, stiff, swollen joints. Bumps of tissue, called rheumatoid nodules, sometimes appear, and RA can also cause fatigue, fevers, and weight loss. Over time, RA can cause the joints to become permanently deformed.
There is no one diagnostic test for RA, although there are blood tests that can indicate a likelihood of its presence. There is no cure, but treatments include lifestyle remedies, therapy, medications, and in severe cases, surgery.
Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you have a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, you should be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Through the Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal government provides these cash payments to those who are unable to work due to an illness or injury for at least a year. To have your disability claim approved, you’ll need to demonstrate to the SSA that you are unable to perform any type of work on a consistent basis.
Qualifying for Benefits Under the Medical Listing for RA
The SSA sets forth specific criteria for disability applicants with rheumatoid arthritisin its Listing of Impairments. Socials Security’s medical listing for “inflammatory arthritis” is lengthy and relatively complicated and offers multiple ways that a disability applicant with RA can qualify under the listing. Overall, you must experience significant limitations in your abilities due to your RA to qualify for benefits under this medical listing. Specifically, to qualify for benefits under the listing for RA, you must satisfy one of the following requirements:
- Your RA is present in a joint in your legs, causing you significant difficulties in walking (for example, needing to use a two canes, a walker, or a wheelchair).
- Your RA affects joints in both of your arms, preventing you from performing many types of tasks with your arms (involving both large muscle movements and small manipulations).
- You have inflammation or a permanent deformity in one or more major joints, along with moderate involvement of at least two more organs or body systems, causing at least two symptoms out of these four: severe fatigue, fever, malaise, and/or involuntary weight loss.
- You have ankylosing spondylitis or another spondyloarthropathy, with fixation of your spine of at least 45 degrees.
- You have ankylosing spondylitis or another spondyloarthropathy with fixation of your spine of at least 30 degrees, along with moderate involvement of at east two or more body systems, or
- You suffer repeated flare-ups of your RA with at least two of symptoms (such as fever, extreme fatigue, malaise, or weight loss) that cause limitations in your activities of daily living, social functioning, or ability to complete tasks.
Qualifying for Disability Using the Medical-Vocational Guidelines
If you have rheumatoid arthritis but don’t exactly meet one of the specifications above, from the medical listing for inflammatory arthritis, you could still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if the SSA determines that you are unable to perform consistent work.
One of the ways the agency evaluates your ability to work is by assigning you a “Residual Functional Capacity” (RFC). Your RFC—either sedentary, light, medium, or heavy—is the heaviest type of work that the SSA feels that you could perform. Your RFC should also includes doctor’s restrictions and functional limitations, such as “needs to change positions every two hours” or “can stand for no more than 30 minutes at a time.”
If you have a limitation on how long you can sit or stand, because of inflamed and painful joints, the SSA will likely give you a sedentary RFC, which will limit the types of jobs you can do. (The SSA might include this in your RFC if your doctor has give you this restriction and the SSA finds your doctor to be credible, or if you have an MRI showing deformity in your legs and you say you have trouble standing). Needing to change your position or take rest breaks frequently would further limit the types of jobs you can do. Or, if you have chronic shoulder pain, you might not be able to reach overhead. If you have finger swelling and pain, you might not be able to do what’s called fine manipulation, which is required at most sedentary jobs. Any of these limitations could “erode the occupational base” for sedentary work, meaning you could actually do only a limited range of sedentary work. This would make it likely you would be approved for disabilty benefits.
However, the SSA doesn’t always agree that your limitations are as severe as you say they are. Here’s an RFC that Social Security developed for an actual applicant with rheumatoid arthritis:
In general, it’s easier for those who are older, less educated, and who have done unskilled work in the past to be approved for disability benefits. For more information, see our article on the medical-vocational rules.
Medical Evidence Required When Proving Disability Due to Rheumatoid Arthritis
The main way that the SSA evaluates your claim is based on your medical evidence—this includes doctors’ and hospital records and laboratory test results and could include a questionnaire completed by your doctor, or even the results of an independent examination by a doctor of the SSA’s choosing.
The SSA uses the information contained in the most recent edition of the Primer on Rheumatoid Arthritis, published by the Arthritis Foundation, when evaluating rheumatoid arthritis disability claims. In general, to get approved for disability, your records must reflect the following:
- diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis
- doctor’s notes reflecting the frequency and severity of your symptoms
- blood test results indicating the likelihood of RA (such as a positive rheumatoid factor and ANA findings)
- history of any treatments tried and what the results were, and
- other test results such as imaging studies or those that measure the range of motion of the spine.
Applying for Social Security Disability Due to Rheumatoid Arthritis
You can apply for Social Security disability in person at your local SSA office, by calling the SSA at 800-772-1213, or, for SSDI, online at www.ssa.gov. To complete the disability application, you will need detailed information, including the contact information and dates of treatment for all of your medical providers, the dates of any medical tests, and the names, addresses, and dates of employment for all of of your previous employers.
Once your application is complete, your file will be sent to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. Here, a claims examiner will request and review your medical records and may call you for an interview or send you additional paperwork to complete. When the claims examiner feels that there is sufficient evidence to make a decision, you will be notified via mail. This normally takes 3-4 months, but could take longer. If your claim for disability is denied, you will be able to file an appeal.
Why It’s Difficult to Keep Your Job If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Many people with RA choose to try to keep working as long as possible and keep their condition mostly under wraps whenever they can.
“I have told some friends at work about my RA and fibro, but not many. My boss knows about it, but only to an extent,” Jennifer Smith, 29, a Pennsylvania resident who has had RA for four years and fibromyalgia for seven years, told Healthline. “I haven’t had to ask for accommodations yet and feel embarrassed to ask anyway. I don’t think I’d be treated any differently, but you never know. I’ve heard and read some horror stories from other RA patients when it comes to their jobs and employers. Some people with a chronic illness are treated horribly. And going on disability seems like a nightmare, although I know it might be my only option someday.”
Smith added she’d really have to think about it when the time came to quit working — something that she feels is inevitable when looking at the journey of fellow patients online.
What Smith and other folks living with RA should keep in mind when applying for or switching jobs is the type of career they choose.
While education and professional training may be limiting factors, there are certain jobs that are better for people who have RA.
Truck drivers and schoolteachers often not a great choice for RA patients, Neither are factory or warehouse workers.
Jobs that allow for flexible hours, telecommuting, and low stress are often better choices for people with RA. So are freelance and part-time work that doesn’t involve a lot of lifting, bending, crouching, or too much typing without dictation software or computer ergonomics.
Healthline has written about the best and worst jobs for RA, as well as jobs that carry with them a higher risk for RA (first responders is one example of many).
There’s also the overall economic burden and impact of the disease.
Some states offer services such as an Occupational Vocational Rehabilitation unit that helps disabled people find work. The SSDI’s Ticket to Work program also allows people on disability to go back to work and test if they are able to begin working again.
“According to the CDC, arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are among the leading causes of work disability for adults in the U.S.,” Hazel L. Breland, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, CLA, president of the Association of Rheumatology Professionals, told Healthline. “As a member of the inter-professional rheumatology team, occupational therapists work with people living with RA to address their difficulty with activities of daily living (i.e., self-care of one’s body), instrumental activities of daily living (i.e., activities within the home and community) and work-related concerns. Individuals with RA most often seek effective OT strategies to help manage their overall function to do what they need and want to do, joint protection, fatigue, coping with changes to their work productivity.”
The American College of Rheumatology also provides resources for people who are looking for work while living with RA.
If you are experiencing discrimination on the job because of your RA, you may file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, here.
I read about all of these RA (rheumatoid arthritis) patients that are very motivated about being able to work full-time and possibly even a part-time job. The pep talks are really great, but the reality for a lot of us is that it is just not an option. Is it just me or are there others out there that feel the same? I do not receive any type of disability, just trying to readjust our way of living. Could there be a difference in the degree of one’s own disease that would affect one’s ability to work a full-time job? I battle with RA and fibromyalgia. When I read these posts, I sometimes can’t help but feel like: What is wrong with me? Is it just me? Does anybody else feel this way? What kind of jobs do people with RA have?
I am sorry to hear that you are struggling so much with work. I completely understand — in a world where the first question you’re asked is “What do you do?” it can be difficult to maintain your self-esteem when you have trouble working.
Many people with RA are in the same boat. It’s a progressive condition, which untreated can lead to disability that can prevent you from working. But there are things you can do to make it easier to keep your job.
Tools can keep you working
The first way to help you keep working is treating your RA. There are many medication options now, which means that most rheumatologists use a fairly aggressive approach to treatment. This means that more people than ever are doing better. (This explains all those people you hear about who are still working.) You may want to talk to your doctor about treatment options that can help you feel better.
The other tool to help you keep working is workplace accommodations. Legally, your employer is required to accommodate you. By changing the way you work to make the job physically easier for you, it may be possible for you to stay in your job. Examples of accommodations include flexible work hours, the ability to work from home, an ergonomic workstation, a parking place near the front entrance, the ability to take frequent rests, and much more. You can check the Job Accommodation Network website for more information.
Consider a different type of job
You may want to consider changing what you do. For instance, if your current work is very physical, you may look for a job that is more mental and can be done at a desk. If you work for a large company, your human resources department may be able to help you with professional development courses or a transfer.
You may also consider going back to school. That can sound daunting, especially if you’ve been out of school for decades, but it can be a good investment in your continued ability to work. As someone with a chronic illness, you are also entitled to accommodations at school. This can include longer time to take tests, taking classes part-time instead of full-time, help with notetaking, and more.
People who can’t work in an official job because of their chronic illness are not stuck doing nothing. Many of us have found a way to keep working by thinking creatively. I haven’t been able to work for someone else for a long time, but I am now self-employed as a writer and author, which I can fit around the requirements of my chronic illness. You may have skills that you can utilize to create your own career.
Accepting your inability to work can be a relief
At the end of the day, though, sometimes you have to accept that the time has come for you to stop working. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. If your RA has progressed to the point that you no longer have the energy or ability to work, your best option may be to apply for disability. It can be a hard choice to face, but it can also be a relief to no longer have to push yourself to do something that makes it impossible for you to enjoy your life.
See more helpful articles:
The Struggles of Finding a Job With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tips for Getting Through Your work Day When You Have RA
How to Make Your Office RA Friendly