Can I quit my job because of a medical condition and still be eligible for unemployment?

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Can I quit my job because of a medical condition and still be eligible for unemployment?

I have had 2 knee surgeries in the last 10 months. Now the doctor wants to do a complete knee replacement and has recommended that I leave my job as an assistant manager for a big box retailer due to the stress on my legs. He wants me to get an office job. I have tried to change jobs and have had multiple interviews. I would either have to take a large cut in pay or they say I am overqualified. What are my options?

Asked on October 22, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, stopping working voluntarily for  any essentially reason does not allow one to collect unemployment--even if that reason is a very good one, such as to reduce the stress on your legs.

Various options, legal and/or practical:

1) Employers have to make reasonable accomodations for disabled employees; they are required by law to do so. Is there some accomodation that your current employer could make, whether by allowing you to use a mobility assistance device (e.g. a powered chair),changing  how the assistant manager job is done, or changing your duties so you don't need to stand as much?

2) If a temporary respite to recover would help, if you haven't used it already, you could go out for up to 3 months on FMLA assuming your employer is large enough (I think it's a 50 person threshold) and that you've been working full time.

3) You may wish to to meet with a lawyer who specializes in social security and disability--you may qualify for some government assistance, such as SSI or any disability offered by your state. Such a lawyer may also be able to offer you an opinion about the accomodations you could ask for from your employee.

4) Have you considered downplaying experience and/or job title on your resume if you're being viewed as overqualified?


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