Recently, a company based in Chicago has been criticized for their bathroom breaks. WaterSaver Faucet Company installed swipe card systems on bathrooms located off the factory floor. The company says this was in response to several of their employees spending extensive amounts of time in the bathroom when they were supposed to be on the production floor. The company is now monitoring the staff’s bathroom times, and if an individual is found to be using the bathroom excessively they will use a three-step disciplinary process starting with a warning and ending with termination. The company is defining excessive use as 60 minutes or more over 10 working days, which equates to 6 minutes a day in the bathroom.
While this article may seem silly to many of us it is an interesting concept in terms of Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. I work with several clients who have bladder urgency/frequency issues for a multitude of reasons including prostate cancer, lumbar stenosis and even side effects from medications.
One of the hurdles an individual needs to jump when qualifying for SSD is the number of accommodations you would require as an employee. If you require an “excessive” amount of restroom breaks you may be deemed unemployable. In terms of Social Security, the appropriate amount of breaks throughout an 8-hour workday are 15 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes for lunch and 15 minutes in the afternoon. If you would require more than the “normal” amount of breaks then you will generally be considered disabled.
Do you always carry an extra set of clothes with you? Do you have frequent accidents? That’s another significant accommodation in terms of SSD benefits. A lot of clients will tell me that they don’t have bladder issues. They’ve fixed the problem by carrying five changes of clothing in the car with them. However, if you have difficulty controlling your bladder and have frequent accidents even though you have fixed the problem, that doesn’t negate the fact that your wardrobe changes take you away from working hours.
If you require any sort of accommodations at work you should consult a disability attorney to see if these accommodations are “abnormal” thus making you essentially unemployable. A knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney will be able to tell you right away if your accommodations are unreasonable or not.
There are lots of factors that could affect your ability to maintain a regular job, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. A lot of times individuals overlook the number of bathroom breaks they require. But as I said, the number of bathroom breaks or wardrobe changes may in and of itself qualify you for disability benefits.