I would like to take a LOA (leave of absence), how can I do this without risking financial ruin?

I do pay for short-term disability. How do I get a Physician to grant me some time off?

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    Hi Renee, welcome to The Workplace. I'm very sorry for the situation you are in. Your questions however on the one hand seem to be about medical topics, like which doctor best to go to, which we really couldn't tell you. On the other hand you're asking question regarding personal finance (not ruining yourself financially), which Personal Finance & Money might be the better place for. – CMW Mar 13 '14 at 17:25
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a health problem. – Jim G. Mar 13 '14 at 22:49

Sorry for you worries. I think there are two question in here

  1. How do I negotiate a leave of absence with my employer?
  2. How do I bridge a financial gap?

I think this forum is a good place for the first but not the second, although they are potentially related.

Disclaimer: I'm not a legal expert and what I say could be false. Verify it, it's important.

In the US there are typically two types of absences

  1. Medical Leave of Absence. For this doctor need to declare you to be "unfit to work". The doctor will also determine how long and you need to be declared healthy by the doctor before you can return to work. During this absence you are typically on short term disability, i.e. you get paid but at a reduced rate
  2. Family Leave of Absence. You can take this for whatever reason your employer finds acceptable. This is typically unpaid but you keep your job and you may keep your health insurance

So here is what you could do

  1. Your company has polices about both types of absences. There are either on the website or in the Employee manual. Find them and read them carefully. Make sure that you understand them. If you don't find someone to explain them to you.
  2. See your family doctor. Tell him about your issues and inquire about a potential medical leave. He may refer you to someone else. No harm in speaking to your psychiatrist as well, he can declare "unfit for work" as well
  3. Some company have a "Employee Help Line". It is confidential and designed to specifically help in cases like yours. If you have this, call them.
  4. After you have done things 1-3, find someone in your company that you trust. Could be a manager or someone in HR. Talk to them about your situation and ask for advice.
  5. Even if a doctor agrees to a Medical Leave of Absence, it's good practice to talk your management first before you pull the trigger. They may have other ideas to help you and nobody likes to be confronted with a ready made decision
  6. Once you figured out the master plan you can dive into the financial details

Good luck


Unfortunately this is a tough question to answer and often varies work place to work place. Your disability coverage depends on what you employer offers to you and this changes place to place so I will avoid making any assumptions as there are to may options for what they may offer.

I do pay for short-term disability. How do I get a Physician to grant me some time off?

Physicians do not really "grant time off" disability is generally related to someones physical ability to not work. In other words if you are a construction worker and break your arm you may be eligible for disability as you physically can not complete the task you were hired for. This disability generally lasts as long as you are physically unable to work.

Should I see my family physician or my psychiatrist (I have depression I'm on med for)?

In this case I would advise a psychiatrist, a physician will most likely refer you to a psychiatrist for this issue.

I would like to take a LOA (leave of absence), how can I do this without risking financial ruin?

If you can go out on some type of disability then you will be ok in this realm, unfortunately most employers will not pay for people to take time off to get their affairs in order. However if you are close with your boss/manager they may be able to help you out in a situation like this.

I am sorry for your situation and in this case I would advise talking to your psychiatrist about it.


The choice may not be entirely up to your employer. I once had an employee face a tremendous amount of stress (he and his wife separated, and shortly after that their preschooler was diagnosed with cancer) and really he was not able to work. We put him on stress leave and he applied to the short term disability folks for the coverage we had.

They put all sorts of conditions on him. They wanted specific paperwork from his doctor, they would only approve him a few weeks at a time, they made him go to counselling and I know at one point they wanted him on meds (I know this is not a decision an insurance company can make, but they will push for things they think will lower their costs.) We were told we couldn't let him come by the office to have lunch with his coworkers and friends, because if he could do that he could work (seriously? Oh yes) and I know that dealing with them to get his benefits increased his stress dramatically. I yelled at them once or twice myself.

But, that said, they did pay a benefit to him during the worst of it. I suggest you look into how to get this process started (HR should be able to help you) but brace yourself - it will get worse before it gets better.

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