The work conundrum

One of the things I really resent about society/work/the man (call it what you will!) is the way that you're either in or you're out. There doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground tolerated. I'm a senior teacher and am not really well enough to work properly but neither am I poorly enough to retire medically yet. It'd be nice to have a choice in the matter but seemingly as long you can stand, it's quite hard to get medically retired in the UK during these times of 'austerity' (thanks bankers. You really screwed the world up nicely).

I get paid a good salary but am aware that I'm not as productive as I was and feel lots of pressure at work to either do as well as I used to or take a cut in salary or move to a lesser role. Whilst this is illegal, I do understand my bosses predicament: he has a 'half' manager who ought to be moved onto retirement but such is the economic situation, nobody is allowed this anymore unless you're at deaths door.

Funny old world innit?!

19 Replies

  • Could you work part-time? This is often a norm for women with family care responsibilities. It reduces your pay, but not as much as retirement.

  • Dunno really😕 At least with retirement I pick up a nice lump sum to pay the mortgage off!

  • That helps!

  • I was in a very similar situation as a social worker. I really wasn't up to driving all over making home visits, so when a less stressful, office job opened up, I went for it. Eventually the job was downsized, but union rules protected me from taking a pay cut. I know that management was happy to give me that gold (ok, gold tone) watch at my retirement party. That was in August and although I worked a few hours a week temping for them, I finally realized very recently that my job going forward is to take care of myself, which means exercise a good part of the day. I'm 70 now and what a relief to be done with work!

    Is their disability retirement in your country? I was petrified of losing the money, but it got to where it was the job or my life. The job was going to make me into a hunched over, exhausted wreck. You will know when it's time.

  • Yes we do have disability in the UK but it's a very contentious issue currently politically. Once upon a time, it was an acceptable amount to live off (maybe not 'generous', just reasonable?) but there are two main political parties in the UK: one is kind to the poor/weak and the other is cruel and assumes the disabled are villains not victims. Which do you imagine rules the roost currently?!

  • Gee, sounds just like the U.S....wouldn't you think the "Mother Country" would have figured it out by now, so they could teach "us kids"?

  • Sadly no 🙁

  • I am also torn about retiring. Not quite ready but worry about my productivity also. Don't want my coworkers to have to pick up any slack so I push myself. My temporary solution is gradually cutting back my hours until I get over the withdrawal.

  • Can you hire some people to do some paper-work things that overwhelm you? Take the work home and have someone help you. Also housekeeping jobs can be hired out. Also eat out more. Mainly stop fretting; do what you can comfortably. If they sack you, so be it, then you can plead incapacity and they have the option of either revise your duties or retire you.


  • Have you considered looking around for a Part time job that makes use of your skill set and once you feel you can get something that suits you, go ahead with retirement? I would imagine things like tutoring or being hired as a consultant to do teacher training are possibilities. Make a list of what you think you would like to do, prioritize and then go down the list to see what works. It might even be in an area other than teaching that you have an interest in and never got around to pursuing. All the best to you!

  • When my husband "retired" he had to work, because his IRA was depleted due to the investment choices of his company in the 90's....he had no say in the investment choices...he got a job in the maintenance and custodial department of our retirement village, which turned out great when he was diagnosed in 2010....he gets the much needed exercise and movement from this job ....sometimes Fate is kind to us.

  • Jeeves

    I think this is one of THE issue aroundthe world. Especially for younger onset. There is no answer, and especially difficult for men where sense of self is often tied up in the job. (Yes I know women as well) I think we all feel a bit of a failure at not fulfilling expectations but it gets beyong possible. From my observation the part you are in is the hardest. Its a kind of transition phase so there are loss issues along with everything else. The people with pd who seem able to stay working longest are often self employed or in a very flexible work environment where they can adjust hours around their disease. Whatever you do it will be difficult but you will come out the other side, lick your wounds and move on. Best wishes to you.

  • Any thought to a jobshare situation where the other person is under training / familirisation to take over your position full time in a minimum set period of time (some years perhaps) your health allowing.

    I have a friend doing just that, not in teaching though.

  • I feel for you. It must be physically and mentally challenging to keep on top of things.

    I was fortunate to be able fo retire after dx. Dont think i could ever

    have met the time commitments required to keep my job. Everything takes more time and effort. Not working allows flexibility timewise.

    All the best for the future. Stay positive. You are doing the best you can.

  • Guys. Thanks for a great set of responses: very insightful and supportive as usual! In a way I wasn't asking for advice; just sounding off. I think I've decided on my 'game plan' which is to probably take a demotion and lie low for 2/3 years then retire. It'll mean less pay but the demands of senior management are great and the workplace has become ridiculously overly competitive and data driven. Get to 6, they want 7. Get to 7 they want 8! Funny how we fear the 'cut in pay' assuming that it'll mean a worse life.

    I think for employers and co-workers, the issue is often that they don't see many of the symptoms. The man in the street perceives that PD means a shaking hand and have no idea about the cognitive and emotional problems. And the poor quality sleep is unseen of course which leads to fatigue. There ought to be a law passed that declares every PWP has a right to give a presentation at work to their colleagues to broaden their understanding?

  • Hi Jeeves, I'm glad that you have settled on a plan to gradually withdraw from the rat race. Everywhere it seems that the bean counters, who are controlled by corporate interests, have developed and implemented so called streamlining, touting measurable outcomes of productivity. Nonprofits and governmental organizations are not spared. I was permitted to partially work from home my last years, and know many folks here in the US that do so full time, but productivity is constantly monitored. We pwp's don't do well with stress. As for the money, I'm amazed that we are managing ok as car expenses are reduced, less eating out and take out, etc.

    Fortunately neither of us has a burning desire to travel and live it up!

  • Nice post Lionore. Thanks for taking the time😊

  • I figure I have been lucky with my position in Government with job protection. I've opted out of taking a management position as it would be harder to cope. When I feel good I want to do more. But I know there are other times when I've been anxious or otherwise distracted by my symptoms. I've told only a few people that I have known a long time, including an upper manager, which I found has helped me as I reached a sympathetic ear without having to declare full out my condition. I haven't mentioned it again. While for the most part my symptoms are not really noticeable I have to pace myself and take my medication earlier if I don't want my voice giving out on me mid-meeting. Confide on your terms to who you want to. Step back where you can, without giving up what yours or what you want to do. Do what you can, for who you can. Pace yourself. Walk away for a few moments for yourself. Don't worry what some may think. I am not as fast but experience is what we all gain. Enjoy what you can of your routine. Let the rest go if you can.

  • Thanks for the advice and thanks for the time you gave in thinking about and relating to my situation. It's very appreciated. I wish you well at work too!

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