Employment & Income

When to Tell Your Employer

After the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, an employed individual faces the question of when and how to tell the employer. A person in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s may not show symptoms and may still be able to work for a while, but given the progressive nature of this disease, it’s generally a question of when, not if, a worker should inform the employer.

If the employee has been having difficulties at work, telling the employer may relieve some of this pressure.

Before talking with the employer’s human resources or benefits officer, the person with Alzheimer’s may want to talk first with a lawyer to determine rights and responsibilities. An employer’s duty to employees may depend upon such factors as the type of work involved and the number of employees.

What Benefits May Be Available

The lawyer and employee can discuss whether insurance, retirement, or disability benefits are available through work and federal laws—such as the Americans with Disabilities Act—or through state programs.

Caregivers should investigate whether they can take leave from work under the Family Medical Leave Act.

The employee may then want to meet with the employer’s benefits personnel to discuss the details of any benefits, counseling or financial services that may be available. It may be advisable to bring a trusted friend or family member to meetings too, although one should check with the lawyer on whether this affects attorney-client privilege. Obtain a copy of any explanation of benefits for future reference, and make sure a family member or future caregiver also has a copy.

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