Trial Work Period Ends Terribly: Part 1

Duane writes about the emotional and financial toll he has faced leaving a Social Security Disability 9-Month Trial Work Period (TWP). He continues to battle advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis amid the challenges. Read Part 1 below, and continue his journey with Trial Work Period Ends Terribly: Part 2.

Attempting a Trial Work Period

Last you heard from me, I was attempting an SSD Trial Work Period (TWP) beginning in February 2020. I had returned to my teaching/coaching position just as the COVID-19 pandemic became public knowledge. I was working in person from February 4 until our school system went virtual around the middle of March. The remainder of the school year I worked from home via the internet and Office Teams.

A challenging return to work

Following a long, difficult summer, all teachers in our school system had to return to work on August 17. We reported to our home school and participated in professional development. Our staff even produced a 'Welcome back' music video for our students. I jokingly told our principal, “This will be the video they play on the local news when we all come down with COVID-19!”

Our school students were offered several selections on how to attend school, including in-person and virtual. I had already been struggling greatly with the training and reporting to the work site every day. Bone pain from my advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis, Stage 4 was really giving me a hard time, along with extreme fatigue.

Raising concerns

Having doubts I could do the job at hand, I spoke with my principal and returned to visit my oncologist. Our in-person students started their school year on September 8, and I was not able to attend and had to call in a substitute teacher. My primary oncologist and my family physician directed me not to return to my job site. They also gave me orders to discontinue the TWP.

Back early in 2020 when I had questioned the SSD about the TWP, they told me it was no big deal and that if “at any point you decide you cannot continue the TWP, just go back to your prior status.” This, in my case, was not so.

The shock of my life

When I left full-time employment again and returned to full-time disability and disability retirement, I was in for the shock of my life.

I was informed by my school system I would have to retire all over again. That’s right: all the paperwork and all the hassle. The action would have to go before the school board once again and be approved again. Many people who were so nice to me the first time around weren’t so obliging this time around.

I found out a week or so later that I would not be labeled “disability retirement” as before, but as simply “retired.” That meant I would lose my long-term disability and have to go back through all that paperwork and process again.

Missing vital income

This was vital income that I depended upon to get by from month-to-month. And indeed, my long-term disability provider closed my claim.

Just as all this sunk in, the school system contacted me and informed me that I needed to call the consolidated retirement board, as they “were not sure how to treat me going through the retirement process again!”

Tip of the iceberg

Upon calling the board, they let me know that I must fill out all their paperwork again and said they would speak to a lawyer to see how to proceed in my case. Little did I realize this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Join me in my next article as I began to suffer from extreme high blood pressure, anger issues, and deep depression. I really had no clue the many issues that I would confront just trying to leave the TWP.

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