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FMLA for Depression: Easier to Climb Mt. Everest


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I don't know about anyone else here, but my experience in getting FMLA leave for depression has been very difficult; damn near impossible. I know people who have gotten FMLA leave approved for ingrown toenails, and acid reflux, but I have always had leave for depression denied as FMLA, and it really pisses me off. Our company always has "Depression Awareness and Screening", and says they want to help those who are suffering, yet everyone I know is given the iron fist when it comes to getting FMLA leave approved for depression.

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Hmmm, most peculiar.

First: Your company has NO right to even know why you need FMLA leave. Unless you decide to tell them there is no reason for them to know that you have depression. Granted, it can be more difficult dealing with them if they don't know why you need leave, but they cannot force you to tell them.

The paperwork from you doctors does not have to state what your illness is, just what what accomodation you need and for how long.

[edit: OK, I was wrong on this, see the wh-380 form, below. Still the info on your illness should be treated confidentionally by your company, and not become common knowledge]

Your company does not get to decide whether they think your illness is severe enough, or how it compares to others. That is the job of your doctor, and any other evaluating doctors.

Good luck,


[edit] Ok, I'm digging up stuff for you.

Here is the Dept. of Labor FMLA page. http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/

Here is the optional FMLA leave request form: http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fmla/wh380.pdf


Per the Dept. of Labor FMLA site, Your employer cannot simply refuse your request, with no other action. If they believe that your doctors medical reasons are not sufficient, your employer is required to pay to have a second doctor evaluate you. They get to choose this doctor, who may not be regularly employed or contracted by them.

If the second doc agrees with your doc then you must be granted leave. If the second doc disagrees with your doc, and your employer still doesn't want to grant leave, then the employer must pay for a third doctor to evaluate you. Both you and your employer must agree on this doctor. This is the tie breaker. If he agrees with your doc, you get leave, if not, then you don't.

So, again, your employer has NO authority to evaluate or decide whether you are "sick enough" to need leave. Only a licensed doctor following the basic rules mentioned can do that.

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I didnt have any problems in getting FMLA for depression. that was my dx at the time. and like her_tommy - i was paid under the company's short term disability plan. i know not everyone is fortunate enough to have that kind of coverage with their employer.

at first my fmla was on an intermittent (sp) basis....but it got to the point where i couldnt get out of bed anymore. and i ended up using all the fmla. i was not able to go back to work.

and depending on how big your employer is....it may be a completely different person that evaluates fmla claims. mine was done by a nurse in a different state. my direct supervisor was not told why i got fmla - only that i had it and was entitled to use it.

but i was really open with my MI and i dont think it was a big surprise to anyone.

good luck,


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I had to take FMLA once and my boss was really good about it. Just one Snafu. My pdocs letterhead has Neuropsychatric institute in part of it. Oops. My Bosses boss wanted to lnow my dx until I gave him a refresher of HIPPAA amd FMLA laws. I think they pretty much knew anyway.

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