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Question
I currently am employed by the USPS as a rural carrier in TN. A few days ago I was put on restrictions by my doctor because of my back. A previous injury (fractured by a chiropractor) has been made worse by my pregnancy, and my doctor has given a list of restrictions to my superiors. The restrictions were evaluated by the company nurses in Knoxville, and I was told I could not be cleared for work in any way, shape, or form until the restrictions were lifted by my doctor. I believe that my doctor intends to keep the restrictions in place until I can be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon (I see him 9/16) and put through the necessary physical therapy (unknown how long that will last/take). I am wondering what I can do in this situation regarding our income. Do I qualify for short-term disability? Or unemployment, even though I am technically employed? How do I go about applying for aid, if there is any to be had?

Answer
Meghan,

I'm sorry to hear of your injury and your situation.

From what you wrote, here is my opinion-  your employer will not allow you to work and has put you on layoff, basically, until you are able to work and released for full duty by your doctor.  The Employer's nurses feel they (and you)  are safer with you not working and causing potentially additional harm to yourself , your back and the effects can last a long time.

On 9/16 you will see your surgeon and then know if you can be released to full or partial duty or  maybe the Dr. will want you to stat away from work..  This is up to the employer.

What to do about no income ?

TN  has no mandatory "employer provided" disability insurance.  So, unless you have been paying for disability, or your employer has a policy for you as a part of your benefits,  then you have no recourse for disability payments.

Unemployment:
Likely not either.    Refer to the TN  Unemployment site:
http://www.tn.gov/workforce/topic/do-i-qualify-for-unemployment

You see,  you have to not only be available for work  (you are)  but you also must be ABLE to work  ( according to your Doctor, you are NOT)
So, you would not be eligible to receive UC benefits.  Sure you can try to open a claim, but I think it would be denied since you are not able to work.

I am not aware of any "aid"  you could apply for in this case.

I wish I had a better answer.   Maybe ask your HR department what they can do to get you limited duty doing data entry,  filing, phone calls, anything...  explain your situation and that you DO NOT want to just sit at home waiting to be released.   IF your Dr tells you he/she will not release you for duty,  you can still ignore the Dr orders and work if the employer will let you...likely though, the post office will follow the Dr orders.

I hope this helps.

Brian Phillips  

Human Resources

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Brian Phillips

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Foreign and US university students -*PLEASE*- DO NOT waste your time asking for my opinions, comments or analysis of your homework questions. Homework questions are not answered and are rejected. I am happy to help answer questions asked by employees and employers regarding United States based state and Federal wage and hour, OT, Fair labor standards, FMLA, COBRA, Recruiting, Interviewing techniques, employee manuals, discipline, terminations/quits, unemployment, HRIS rollout, Employee Leasing or Staffing company cost analysis, day to day scenarios, work situations and more. Essentially a well rounded HR generalist who operates Harvis, Inc., a human resource consulting and service business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania "NEPA". http://www.harvis.org

Experience

At Harvis, Inc., we provide Human Resource products, services and advice to small businesses that may not have the time or resources to hire a full time HR department. For larger companies with HR managers in place, we compliment their expertise to help with time consuming or time sensitive projects like updating policy manuals, screening and interviewing and more. We make workplaces better by becoming that 1/2 person they need to help handle HR responsibilities on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Formerly responsible for all Human Resource activity for a staffing agency with 2,500 annual employees as well as an employee leasing / PEO business with 1,500 annual employees. Designed and implemented the HR structure to support hundreds of clients in excess of $ 500 million in payroll volume over career in Human Resources.

Organizations
* President 2006- Harvis Inc. HR Services * President 2010-13 Business Association of the Greater Shickshinny Area - Shickshinny PA * President 2013- ShickshinnyForward Not for Profit Community Long Term Revitalization Organization and former member of varios Chambers of Commerce and HR Taskforce, former President of NBC Business Club 2 years

Education/Credentials
Bloomsburg University - 1993 BS Marketing, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania and Luzerne County Community College - 1991 Business Administration, Nanticoke Pennsylvania

Awards and Honors
* Better than average - 20/10 vision * Bestowed with an occasional "Thank You" from clients and their employees.

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