Coping with Temporary Disability

If you're not prepared for it, a temporary disability can be very bad news. April 9, 2008

I recently had back surgery to correct a disk problem. Typical recovery time for this type of surgery is 1-2 weeks. Due to serious complication, my recovery is currently estimated to take months to a year. The surgery was not for a work related injury. I am the owner of a 2 man shop (I am 1 of the two). I will not be able to work and earn an income and I'm concerned I may lose my shop. I do not have supplemental insurance and I am not covered by workers comp, even if it were a work related injury. I have heard of a nonprofit woodworking organization that helps folks in my situation but I don't have any information on who they are or how to contact them. Does anyone know of an organization that may be able to help me while I'm recovering?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
I too have had a similar situation and if you are disabled even for a few months, you might be able to collect on your Social Security Disability. It certainly helped me; not sure what would have happened without it. It's why we pay taxes. Don't let your pride get in the way of a good decision.

From contributor E:
I would be truly surprised if there was such an organization, because I sure could have used them! I was laid up for 2 years.

Aside from that, you should develop a strategy as to how you are going to survive this situation. Get with your accountant, attorney, and significant others, and try to develop a survival plan. If your associate is capable of handling a helper, and continuing to operate the shop, you might be able to assume more of a management and support role to keep the business moving. You should be prepared to have some rough sledding ahead, but good planning might ease the mental, physical and financial pain.

From contributor K:
Please tell us where you are located. A while back I saw a similar post here on WOODWEB and I believe the gentleman got a good response from other woodworkers after losing everything in his shop from a fire. It may be possible to work things out to help keep things going. After moving here to Denver a year ago, I am not yet very busy and looking for work to do (If you happen to be in this area).

From contributor V:
There was a story or two about a Craft Cooperative that funded woodworkers forced out of work in Woodshop News in the past year or two. Fire, illness, flood were reasons to get help from the underfunded not for profit. I always meant to contribute, but... Check out Woodshop News online, and they can steer you to it.

While I may not be able to contribute directly to your situation, I will advise all to look at this as a cautionary tale for the solo and near solo. Disability insurance is available, but at such a high cost, few of us can afford it. If we had that much excess income, we'd be better off banking it for that rainy day anyhow.

When I realized my little shop would not help me one bit were I unable to work, I set about to let it grow and expand into something that would support me if I couldn't work. After a couple of years of that, the old family curse came up, and I went down with a heart attack at 49 years old. We had health insurance through the company, and all went well, and the work continued in my absence. Best thing in the world.

Now the shop is growing to become independently valuable without me so I can retire someday. Sell the building if not the whole shebang, and go back to that little shop in the backyard. Who'd a thunk it would be such a long, strange trip?

From contributor G:
I became disabled just under 2 years ago and if I hadnít had insurance on my credit card and loan payments, I would have had to go bankrupt.

From contributor S:
Could you hire yourself out to other companies to do estimating, etc. (didn't want to call it paperwork)? Keep your employee working in your shop on smaller projects until you are ready to come back. Working as a consultant/estimator will at least keep the money coming in. Most companies out there have a hard time keeping up with the business end, and concentrate more on getting the work done.