Psoriatic arthritis disabilities
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Information from the Arthritis Foundation and the American Disabilities Act
Psoriatic arthritis- the arthritis associated with psoriasis- can be as debilitating and crippling as rheumatoid arthritis.
Many of the newer therapies approved for use in rheumatoid arthritis are often used to treat psoriatic arthritis as well.
Unfortunately, because psoriasis can be severe, can cover a large surface area of skin, and is disfiguring, patients who have this disease are often ostracized. Discrimination can occur in the workplace, at the pool, beach, or at the salon.
Fortunately, there are several federal laws designed to protect all people from discrimination.
You are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for three reasons:
1. The birth or adoption of a child
2. To care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition; and
3. If you have a serious health condition. A serious health condition includes chronic conditions that require periodic and continuing treatments, such as psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
FMLA leave may be taken on an intermittent basis if medically necessary. Your employer cannot require you to take more time off than is medically necessary.
While on leave, your employer must maintain your benefits, but you must continue to pay your portion.
You retain the right to return to the same or equivalent position, pay and benefits upon returning from leave. The law protects people from retaliation for raising these issues or taking this leave.
You are "eligible" to take FMLA leave if:
1. You have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months (they do not have to be consecutive) and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year; and
2. Your employer employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your worksite; and
3. You provide 30 day advance notice to your employer for foreseeable events (such as a phototherapy appointment). Your employer may require medical certification (see link below) of the serious health condition and the necessity of leave.
Being considered "disabled" under the ADA is different than qualifying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents your employer from discriminating against you if you can successfully perform the essential functions of your job.
Your employer must make a "reasonable accommodation" to your known disability if it would not impose an "undue hardship" on your employer's business. The law defines undue hardship as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense. The law takes into consideration an employer's size, financial resources, etc.
Examples of reasonable accommodation include: modified work schedules, extra leave (above and beyond sick leave), uniform/dress code changes, etc.
While use of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is now routine, the ADA can be both more complicated and more difficult to qualify under. To qualify under the ADA, you must:
1. Work for a company that employs 15 or more employees; and
2. Have an impairment that substantially limits a "major life activity," such as walking, breathing, or providing basic care for yourself (usually, to meet such a strict requirement, you must have a severe case of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis); or a history of such an impairment; or be regarded as having such an impairment; and
3. Be able to successfully perform the essential functions of your job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
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