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Why should I go back to work after an SCI?

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    Why should I go back to work after an SCI?

    I see a lot of posts about people asking what they can do for work after a spinal cord injury, my question is different: why should I go back to work?

    My situation might be slightly different than most people but I’m having trouble finding any incentives to go back to work right now. I got hurt a little over 2 years ago (I was 24 years old, C6 quad) and at the time was working a very well paying job and had great medical benefits. As a result of my injury, I am now collecting SSD like most people, but I also receive long term disability. I am making a total of 60% of my previous salary tax free, which means I am essentially making the same net amount (after taxes) as when I was before my injury (I was typically getting taxed between 35-40%). Right now, I am 26 and making more money than most of my friends, and more than most entry level jobs I qualify for and actually have an interest in pursuing. On top of that, I am also on Medicaid, which fully covers home health care costs and provides other medical benefits.

    Now, if I go back to work, I will lose my disability payments as well my medical coverage, and probably will make the same or even less than my current income. So in essence, my income will decrease, my expenses will increase (lose home health care and other medical), and now I will actually have go through the daily grind of working every day (which, as those of us with SCI know, isn't the most appealing thing in the world). The only negative aspect of my situation is that although i am making a good income for a single 26 year old, it will certainly not suffice in supporting a family years down the road.

    Unless I am missing something, I just doesn’t see any incentive in getting a job. Maybe I am missing something? Maybe I am just convincing myself to be lazy? Maybe I got lucky with my medical coverage and because of it, I really don't need to return to work (at least not right now).

    I'd love to hear some opinions on this as i assume someone out there has been in a similar situation... then again, maybe not.

    You can't be on medicaid if you make that much money, I'm pretty sure. There is a $2000 asset limit, other than your home and car. You might mean Medicare, but I don't think they pay for aides and such.

    You'll get bored if you don't work at something. I've worked every year of my life since I was 8, even through college after my injury. Everyone I know who retires complains, and goes back to work. It doesn't have to be a paying job if you're not up to that daily grind, but volunteer work would help your self image, and increase your self-esteem. You might try exercising your creative side, maybe work on inventing something to better your life, or the lives of others. Begin writing, or painting, etc. I've been there.

    Then again, if you don't have to work, and enjoy your life as it is now, go for it. It's your life, don't let anyone tell you how to live it. Society will pressure you to go back to work, but as far as I'm concerned, anyone with a injury level as high as yours can do any dang thing they want.

    Good luck.
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      Being on disability is just another form of unemployment. How are the unemployed viewed in our culture?

      Attracting a mate or spouse while unemployed is not easy. Keeping a spouse while in a perpetual state of unemployment is harder.

      Isolation and SCI can go hand in hand. Being in the workforce gives you social connections and a feeling of belonging. Don't underestimate how valuable these intangibles are.

      If you decide to go back to work then I would pick a smart well paying profession that will be around and that will accept you. There are some that won't no matter what you bring to the table (ie - investment banking {unless you are already established in the profession}).

      Then again there are all kinds of exceptions to my comments above so it depends on a lot variables (personal wealth, income from any source, what your spouse wants, whether you think you have it in you, ...).

      Good luck with your decision!
      Last edited by Patton57; 14 Nov 2011, 9:08 PM.


        I have a similar situation as you, other than I only wish i was 26 again. You need to check fine details of the long term disability, how long will the pay, most have a maximum lifetime payout. Things to consider are wether the amount you are getting now will get you by in say, 10 years? You SSD sure isn't going to keep up with inflation, medicare is going to have cuts(let's just face it), The Dumbass president keeps threatening to stop the SSD payouts. You probably haven't worked enough to have any investments or money set aside, if or when these other sources of money run out or stop. I would maybe try going to school and see if you can even handle a scheduled day and maybe that can help you decide. If you don't go to work, you need to find something to pass time and stay as active as you can.


          thank you so far. i do have medicaid because of how my income is structured (and no its not illegal). I will start medicare soon but will still have medicaid as secondary. My long term disability pays till i am 65, and if SSD is cut, my disability insurance will cover the difference to make me whole at 60%. One of my known issues is inflation but i forgot to mention it above.

          right now i am very active with working out and staying in shape. i do volunteer work to help keep busy and i go out with friends and enjoy as much of life as possible. i am in school part time for a finance, since thats where i was before my injury and that will pay extremely well, but it will require 40+ hours a week at the minimum. I feel like if i go back to work, it has to pay well to avoid taking a "pay cut" but with a high paying job come a lot of stress, long hours, and not much flexibility (which is a daunting combination for SCI). i am having doubts about contining on this path

          a big reason for writing is that i am getting a lot of pressure from family that i "need to go back to work" b/c "i have to do something." in my mind, working is not solution to bordom. also, that something i decide to do doesnt necessarily have to be a typical 9-5+ job
          Last edited by roller88; 14 Nov 2011, 9:41 PM.


            To be on Medicaid all of my husband's private disability (like AFFLAC) and a large part of his SS go straight back to the state as a spend down to quailify for Medicaid.
            His long term disbility is only a 5 year plan and when SS kicked in 5 months after his SCI it was "offset" by his SS so he got less. He started Medicare in April. Complicated stuff.
            So confused how tht works for you.
            I think volunteering on a FT level at whatever interests you is as worthy as working.
            There are a lot of good things to be done in the world-find your calling.


              Linda, I do the spend down by putting my money into a disability needs trust. That money goes to the state when I die but right now that's my money to spend as I please. As for the disability offset by SSd, mine is the same way, but if the govt runs out of money or needs to lower ssd, my long term disability will increase to ensure I'm still 60%. Seems like you on the right track, just unfortunate it's only for 5 years. Good luck


                I was SCI at age 17, went to school, and then worked for thirty one years post disability. I had friends at work. They were not just co-workers. We were truly like a version of a good family, watching out for one another, socializing together, and had a shared purpose in our work. One of the saddest days of my life was when I finally had to stop working because it gave me so much more than just a paycheck and insurance. No one can really tell you what you should do because we are all different and have different aspirations, but I found working at something I loved to be the best thing in the world for me emotionally, socially, and in many other ways.


                  Originally posted by roller88 View Post
                  thank you so far. i do have medicaid because of how my income is structured (and no its not illegal). I will start medicare soon but will still have medicaid as secondary.
                  That's awesome that you have Medicaid because Medicare sucks, but I don't understand how you can have both, especially with private disability. How is it structured? I'm in the same situation as you, I've got prvt disability til 65, SSDI, and Medicare. I have no incentive to work, because I would make less due to taxes. Why get up early, commute, deal with stress of job, etc., etc., when I have a good income, can pursue my hobbies, and relax as much as possible? I think I've earned the right. I've lost my mobility and my independence, have terrible spasticity and neuropathic pain, along with neurogenic bowel and bladder and all the complications that come with that. Just dealing with chronic pain and spasticity is work enough.

                  a big reason for writing is that i am getting a lot of pressure from family that i "need to go back to work" b/c "i have to do something."
                  Frankly, I'd tell your family members that are pressuring you to get a job to take a hike!


                    If you don't have to or want to go to work, then don't. It's good to find something to do with your time, though. Volunteer, go to a gym, start a project, find things to do. Which is what you're doing so...

                    I'm in a similar situation. My pension pays 90% of my old income, tax-free, plus a generous stipend for a caregiver, indexed for inflation, so why would I work to make less money and have more stress? My bills are paid... heck, soon enough my kids will be 18 and I'll have 20 years to put the $500 a month I give in child support away for retirement.

                    Are you living with these family members? In their face a lot? If you're not bothering them, you're keeping active and are cool with not working, it's not their business.


                      It won't really matter when the long term disability ends, he will just pay that much less back as a spend down to qualify for medicaid. He has medicare with medicaid as secondary.
                      This way he qualifies for a waiver plan where the aides and myself are paid for his care.
                      That is what we live on because he is only left with a few hundred dollars a month.
                      I don't work outside the home because he can't be alone and no health agency will accept him-then we lost our insurance when COBRA ran out.
                      Each state seems to be a little different.
                      I barely understand it and wish it wasn't like this and we were both working like before, but am grateful for the program he is on.


                        I think a better question is, why shouldn't you go back to work?

                        The only reason you're not working now is you're getting a handout from the government. The reason you went to work before your injury is because you weren't getting a handout. So if it wasn't for the government would you be working now? The definition of disability to me is, someone who can't work, not someone who chooses not to work.

                        It sure sounds like you have skills (or will have) to get you a good job and you have the physical ability to do so.

                        To say that it's a grind to go back to work and the stress and blah blah blah, well boo hoo!

                        It's a grind and hassle to go through my bowel program, to cath 4x times a day. So I can decide to soil myself and let someone clean me up, or I can do it myself, go out and do my job, make money, support myself and family and afford to play and do the things I like to do.

                        Don't assume most people on this board are on SS. I am not and have not been since I got my first job. And will not be until I absolutely have to.

                        For me it's personal satisfaction and pride. I know who I am, what I am, and at the end of the day I can look myself in the mirror and feel good about that.

                        I hope you figure it out. Taking time off for a bit until you do isn't a bad idea at all.

                        Good luck.


                          If the only reason you'd consider going back to work is the money, then you're right, you have no incentive to do it.

                          However, are there really no other valid reasons to work? Someone above me mentioned the concept of a 'government handout'. I've personally found that long periods of being dependent on others (family, friends, charity, the state), financially or otherwise, will inevitably chip away at my self-esteem. It definitely doesn't help when, as seems to be the case with you, this kind of dependence goes hand in hand with barely-masked contempt from people whose opinion you care about.

                          I find that there is a certain pride to be had from only spending what money I personally earned. Whether that pride is worth all the hassle to you is a question I can't answer. For me, the balance is radically skewed in favor of working, even if -- as is the case right now -- the only job I can get turns out to be something I regularly feel overqualified for, and which doesn't pay very well.

                          My disability is minor compared to that of most regulars here, so there is that. But then again, there are people like Lynnifer and Eileen and SCI55 and many, many others, for whom I am sure there careers have long been an integral part of their identity and a point of pride, and not just a somewhat inconvenient way to make money. It can be the same for you, if you let it.


                            as far as the money, good luck. i think you're missing some facts. i was injured at 30 from engineering job. frankly, my main goal was to get back to work despite c7 and pain. money wasn't a factor in my mind at that age. 25 yrs later, i see the benefits of returning to work.

                            and yeah, i had all that stuff you mentioned but i think you're misinformed re taxes, medicare cost and ltd. if money is all you're concerned about, better get a financial planner in the picture.


                              I don't view SSDI as a government handout, but at the same time at your age you would be well served to work IF you can, both from self-esteem etc standpoint and also from a long term financial standpoint. You are going to be stuck at making the money you are now for the rest of your life and as time passes that is not going to work well for you.

                              It wold be good, in my view, if we could have accessible health care insurance after we get hurt. For many, the inability to obtain health care insurance seems to be a big factor in deciding not to try to work. Also, the uncertainty in being able to retain (re-obtain) benefits if the effort to return to work is unsuccessful is a factor for many. I think many people would like to work but don't know whether they can really do it over the long haul.
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