Jon W. on January 29, 2016
I am looking for advice, information and help in taking control of my work situation. I am 54, diagnosed in 2005 with a Giant Cell Tumor in my pelvis. I've had 3 resections and am currently undergoing chemotherapy and expect to have another surgery in the next few years. This tumor is really a chronic condition, generally not fatal but also not very treatable; it leaves me with chronic and unpredictable pain, generally at a 4 or less on the pain scale, and usually less than 4. Walking can be an issue. Sitting can generally be pain free for an average work day.
I have been working full time as a software developer for my entire career and throughout my treatments (with the exception of STD/recovery after surgery) and would generally describe my companies and industry as 'volatile'. I've survived hundreds of reorgs/layoffs and have also gotten caught up in a few as well. I have always survived the volatility by working hard, being focused and producing quality results.
I've discussed some of this with a Social Worker from the Cancer Center and she pointed me to your site/resources. She has suggested that I consider SS Disability as it is very likely I would be approved. I would prefer to work, simply because I really like writing software and can't sit idle for days/years. Also, I have less than 2 years to pay off my mortgage and I am trying to get that taken care off before taking an income drop. Fortunately my wife has a very stable job and carries our benefits, so I have a lot of flexibility, as I do not require work that provides health insurance.
I commute 2+ hours 5 days a week and am finding that my physical and emotional ability to do this is decreasing. My ideal work would be about 20-30 hours a week, working remotely from my home. I am feeling stuck by the 'standard' HR polices about traditional work as well as the current trend in my company (and in the software industry) requiring Agile teams to be co-located (no working remotely). I am reluctant to ask my company for any accommodations or change in my work hours because of the volatility and their lack of support for remote employees. Based on poor product revenue, I expect more downsizing within 6 months and even the potential cancellation of the entire product in which the full team would probably be laid off.
I am also finding it difficult to engage in a new job search because I am not seeing a lot of companies offering the flexibility that I want or need.
It has been suggested to me that I offer consulting services. That could be a possibility but I prefer writing quality code, not schmoozing clients, dressing up and managing accounts. I tend to be a 'doer' not a 'talker'.
So I see several possibilities (with my feelings about each in parenthesis):
- suck it up and keep doing what I am doing until something changes (layoff, reorg, surgery,...?) (this option feels 'trapped')
- Actively look for another job that offers what I really want (I've looked some but only at job openings in my area, of which there are not many)
- Approach my current employer and request an accommodation (less hours, more remote work) (I've been afraid of this option)
- Take SS Disability and use the income as a 'safe base' to start consulting (not sure about the complications of being on SS Disability AND earning income as well as making ends meet on reduced income) (feels risky)
I could use some help sorting through these options.