A man faces his old workplace, a classroom, as he prepares to go back to work after his cancer treatment.

Gearing Up for the Trial Work Period

Time passed quickly once I finished my Taxotere chemo infusions. I began to recover from the side effects of having poison in my body. The hair on my head slowing began to reappear and my weight continued to increase the further away from infusions I moved. My PSA numbers leveled out after some time on the Zytiga.

Reality of physical and financial challenges

Currently, I have experienced six months of stable PSA numbers hoovering around .20. My muscle mass had returned somewhat and my everyday energy level seemed to increase. Don’t get me wrong - I still feel a lot of pain on a daily basis. Bone pain is brutal and maybe the most brutal pain one can ever endure. The one thing I know for sure as I go to bed each night is that I will have bone pain the next day if the good Lord allows me to wake.

During these six months, I began to contemplate returning to my teaching job. I felt I could do the job, and I wanted to give it a try. A couple of things factored into these feelings. If anyone has ever tried to live on SSDI, Long Term Disability, DHHR, and Disability Retirement will completely understand my feelings. We could not meet our bills and still have enough money for gas or food.

Wanting to feel needed and do something meaningful

The second factor was a need to feel needed and do something meaningful. I have sat in my chair so much the vinyl began to flake off and fall into the carpet. I can not just sit here and wait to pass. Therefore, I began to enquire about the 9 month Trial Work Period (TWP) offered by SSDI. I studied it at length, what were the pros and what were the cons.

How the Trial Work Period works

Once one begins the TWP, you have nine months to try and perform your job duties and tasks. The nine months do not have to be consecutive; however, they must be performed within a five year period. The first nine months, the SSD will continue to pay you the monthly SSD check no matter how much you make during those months. One also gets to keep their Medicare insurance up to 8 years if they wish.

Back to work

I have been back to work for three days now, and I have done adequately thus far. One concern reared its ugly head right off, how will my dependents be covered in terms of medical insurance. The Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) will not wait long to put them off their insurance, and my company doesn’t want to cover them on my employment insurance. We are currently working to come to a resolution concerning this matter. I will keep you informed as this series continues.

Emotional health benefits

Another immediate benefit I noticed was the lessening of my depression. I had fallen into a very deep depression over the months of my treatments. My life felt incomplete, and it was not improving over time, only worsening. The therapist and psychiatrist meant well, but it was not making a difference in my case. Prescribing two more pills to add to my cancer arsenal of meds.

I am hoping as we continue this journey of the TWP, I see more benefits arise. We will get further into the process in the next article of this series.

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