Saturday, July 23, 2011

Continuing to Work on Disability?

When unexpected medical retirement comes your way, what should you do? Something you love of course! Continuing to work for my aerospace employer for more than two years after ALS diagnosis was a great choice. I loved my job very much. When it became more difficult to drive to work, carry my laptop to meetings, get a fresh cup of coffee or even keep my energy up throughout a full workday, I had to make a decision. Stay at work and use the time still available while my muscles are working at their best to be in the office or to spend more time with family traveling or playing games around the house with the kids. It did not make sense to continue working until I could no longer function and "then" go home to be with family and not be able to do much.
It soon became clear that my progression would be slower than normal. I did not know this of course, when I was making the decision to quit work and be home. Even though I loved my job, in hindsight, I would still recommend quitting work ASAP when given a diagnosis of ALS. Some may disagree and have significant reasons to continue working, this is just my opinion. (Some significant reasons to continue going to the office would be financial, insurance coverage or it may be best if you do not have family around and would only be sitting at home becoming more depressed.)
After a few years, primarily spent promoting ALS awareness and fund raising, I wanted to continue doing things that I enjoyed. I continued with many of my hobbies, but almost all of them became impossible except for computers. Spending most of the day on my many computers as well as answering so many tech questions for neighbors, friends and family, I thought, why not make some money while doing this?
Not being able to speak very well and performing computer tasks at a slower pace, I knew that my advertisement and pricing structure would have to be customized. Much lower prices and word-of-mouth would be the only way to acquire customers. Only remote support would work, as even if I could get to a customers house, I wouldn't be able to perform hard drive upgrades or memory increases without help.
Then, the question became whether I could earn a small amount of money on disability. Were there any legal or tax implications? The answer is simply, yes, you can do it! I would encourage anyone in similar situations to go for it and use their free time to continue hobbies that they can still do. Even if I didn't make money, helping people out doing something that I love adds joy to my every day activities.
So, I started Roger’s Computer Tech Support at
Get to it PALS, live!