|A Plan B is something everyone needs-not just people with MS. This isn't pessimism. It's just being realistic about life. An employment crisis could be a major MS exacerbation or a recurring symptom that shoots a hole in a former ability. It could also be industry slowdown, company downsizing, a family emergency. You need to ask yourself tough "what if" questions and answer them with concrete plans.
How do you get started?
Assess your current situation. How is your job performance? Don't wait for a review from your supervisor. Review yourself as if you were your employer. You may conclude you're doing fine. The next step still needs to be taken.
Assess future possibilities. What if you have a change that affects your stamina or your abilities? What kinds of adjustments could you make? Would you need training? New skills?
What resources do you have for these changes? Do you understand your employment benefits, including any training or tuition programs and when or how they can be used? Do you know what benefits your spouse has? What kind of tax hit would you take if you had to access your retirement money? What would happen to your disability or health-care benefits if you cut back to part-time employment?
What legal protections can you claim?
The National MS Society can help you find your answers. Today, every chapter has a trained employment advisor or an expert volunteer. If you have financial questions, the chapter can connect you to an advisor from the Society of Financial Service Professionals. They have agreed to provide free consultation to people with MS. Your chapter has booklets and fact sheets on the Americans with Disabilities Act, negotiation techniques, disclosure, and insurance issues. Staff members can refer you to the vocational rehabilitation programs in your state and to occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, or speech/language pathologists should you need their services.
The Society's Career Crossroads education program is designed to help you work through issues involved in keeping your job or getting a new one.
How do you get started? Call your chapter at 1-800-344-4867.