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Ask an MS Navigator: What are job accommodations and how do I get one?

Blog Summary

We recently received a question about how to obtain accommodations when MS starts to get in the way of doing your job. What perfect timing! I was just about to write my first post on employment and MS …

First, you need to know whether or not the ADA applies to your situation.  You can request reasonable accommodation under the ADA if:
  • You work for an ADA-covered employer; 
  • You are “qualified” to do the job; AND 
  • You are a person with a disability as defined by the ADA.
ADA-covered employers include private employers with 15 or more employees, all state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions.
 
“Qualified” to do the job means that you have the “skills, experience, education, or other requirements” of the position, and you “can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.” (See Disability Law Handbook - Employment and the ADA)
 
Person with a disability, according to the ADA’s definition, now includes most people with MS, thanks to the passage of the ADA Amendments Act and updated Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations. 
 
Accommodations can be things like new equipment or changes to existing equipment. Another example is a change to your work routines, such as hours worked. Read a few real-world examples of accommodations that have worked for people with MS.
 
Two important things to remember about accommodations:
  1. You must be able to perform the essential functions of your job. The ADA does not require employers to reduce essential job functions, but you can ask to change how you perform an essential job function. Usually employers decide which job functions are essential. 
  2. Your employer does not have to provide you with your first choice in accommodations. The employer has to provide an accommodation that is reasonable and effective, if available—so be ready to discuss alternatives.
Be prepared! Before you request accommodations, make sure you can answer all of the following questions:
 
  • How is MS affecting your job, potential job, or application process?
  • Why are you requesting accommodations?
  • What accommodations or changes to your work will be effective?
  • What information will you need to provide to your employer (or potential employer)?
  • When should you speak with your employer (or potential employer)?
  • Who should you involve in the conversation?
  • How should you follow-up on your request?
  • What are your rights if things go wrong?
These resources can provide more help and information:
 
 
 
 
SOAR (Job Accommodation Network’s Searchable Online Accommodation Resource)
 
Not sure if your employer is covered by the ADA? Contact your regional ADA Center and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to make sure. Both organizations are free and confidential resources. JAN has staff trained in exploring possible accommodations for your particular situation.
 
If your employer is not covered by the ADA, contact an MS Navigator® at 1-800-344-4867 for assistance in exploring other possible legislation that may protect you.
 
Got another question related to employment? Comment below and check back in the coming months as we continue to navigate the employment world!

Cutting-Edge Strategies to Control Cognitive Issues

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Day 6 at ECTRIMS: Managing cognitive function is an important part of your well-being and personal health while living with MS. Learn more about the important research being done in this area.

Medicare open enrollment period has begun: Beneficiaries have more benefits, better choices, lower c

Blog Summary

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services is encouraging people with Medicare and their families to begin reviewing drug and health plan coverage options for 2012 to take advantage of the increased benefits, improved choices and lower costs that are available. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period – which began earlier this year on Saturday, October 15 – has been expanded to seven weeks and will end on December 7th. This will give people more time to compare and find the best plan to meet their unique needs.  Beginning today, seniors and people with disabilities can review the 2012 quality ratings for Medicare Advantage health plans (Part C) and prescription drug plans (Part D) for the upcoming year.  Resources for Medicare Beneficiaries  People with Medicare coverage, their families, and other trusted representatives can review and compare current plan coverage with new plan offerings, using many resources, including:Medicare’s website, where they can get a personalized comparison of costs and coverage of the plans available in their area. The popular Medicare Plan Finder tool has been enhanced for an efficient review of plan choices. Spanish Open Enrollment information is available.The 2012 Medicare & You handbook. It is also accessible at online here, and has been mailed to the homes of people with Medicare. The Medicare & You 2012 handbook in Spanish can be found here.Counseling assistance from an MS Navigator at 1-800-344-4867.People with Medicare who have limited income and resources may qualify for Extra Help paying for their prescription drug costs. There is no cost to apply for Extra Help, also called the low-income subsidy. Medicare beneficiaries, family members, trusted counselors or caregivers can apply online on Social Security’s Website or by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to find out more.  Are you having trouble navigating Medicare – or health insurance in general? Our MS Navigators are trained to assist you in finding the best plan to meet your needs. Call 1-800-344-4867 to speak with an MS Navigator.

No one should have to face MS alone

Blog Summary

For people affected by MS, finding answers and making decisions means having the right information at the right time. That’s what an MS Navigator provides — answers to your questions and access to information about all of the options available to you.In the online world there is information everywhere, but it can be quite a challenge to find what you’re looking for when you need it. MS Navigators have the resources to provide you with the latest about MS including:What you need to know when newly diagnosedTreatment options and symptom management strategiesAccessing optimal health careMeeting workplace challengesUnderstanding benefits such as health insuranceFacing financial challenges and planning for the futureFacing caregiver challengesFinding help in the homeManaging life changesLocating resources in your community.  MS Navigators have information on national resources, and those that are available right in your area. They can help you:Deal with a crisisConnect with others living with MSFind what you need to maintain independenceAccess comprehensive educational programs and more.  Our MS Navigators are here to respond to your unique needs. Whether you are a person with MS, a family member or concerned about someone with MS, the National MS Society is your partner — helping you find the information and resources you need. Call 1-800-344-4867 to speak directly to a navigator. Or pose your questions in the comments field below, and check back in to the Society blog in the days and months to come as we address your questions through our “Ask an MS Navigator” column.

Breaking News: Zeroing In On Risk Factors For MS

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Vitamin D Deficiency, smoking and the Epstein Barr Virus are three environment risk factors that have been studied as potential triggers for MS. Learn more from Day 5 at ECTRIMS.

Day 4 at ECTRIMS: Recent findings related to CCSVI

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Using DNA to Unlock MS’ Mysteries

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Imagine a world where you could be diagnosed with MS before ever having any first symptoms.  Biomarkers are the map of who you are and scientists are identifying important elements to help create a personalized treatment plan for you.

Day 2: It's A Lot to Digest -- Our Intestines as a Path to Understanding MS

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Welcome to ECTRIMS: Day 1

Blog Summary

Welcome!

Blog Summary

In my 25 years with the National MS Society, people have shared hundreds of “MS stories” – stories of struggle, of pain, of heartache, as well as stories of optimism, of the power of possibility – each as unique as the individual people living with multiple sclerosis and the strength of those who love and care about them.In the digital age, we are redefining the word “community.” Our communities are no longer just our neighbors, our families, our coworkers – they are also our Facebook friends, the members of our online support groups, the bloggers whose experience of MS resonate with our own.Information now lives everywhere, but finding the right information when you need it can often be difficult. And, once you find it, it sometimes seems as though it’s written in a foreign language. What if you could more readily find what you were looking for and what if the information was presented in a more understandable way? What if you could ask questions to others with your shared interests or get answers to your questions from experts in the field?The National MS Society is excited to launch this new blog. It’s an important step – one of many – to help us connect those affected by MS to the information and people that help move lives forward. Connecting to create a world free of MS – we are stronger together than we are apart. It is only fitting that we start the conversation here at the largest annual international conference devoted to basic and clinical research in multiple sclerosis – the 5th joint congress of the European and Americas Committees for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS / ACTRIMS).This week in Amsterdam, thought-leaders from around the globe are coming together to share cutting-edge and breaking MS research news – and you will have a front row seat. Over the next several days, Dr. Julie Stachowiak, Science/Medical writer for About.com, and Kate Milliken, video producer – who are both living with MS – will provide daily research updates and video from the conference. Please check back in to this blog over the next few days and share your thoughts and questions as we explore how the research community is working to STOP MS in its tracks, RESTORE lost function and END MS forever!