Putting Job Loss in the Spotlight as a Poor (and Often Preventable) Health Outcome
Jennifer Christian
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The author considers the hypothetical case of a worker disabled by an accident and spine fusion surgery that did not relieve the pain; he is offered opioids and spends his time in a recliner grieving the loss of his self-respect as a good husband, provider, and father. This outcome need not have been a foregone conclusion. Research has shown that, for adults, worklessness is harmful to both physical and mental health, as well as to marital, family, social, and economic well-being. Gaps in social fabric are creating job loss and work disability because none of the professionals who typically respond to workers with job disruption due to illness or injury specifically feels responsible for avoiding job loss. Besides being a personal catastrophe, health-related withdrawal from work (work disability) negatively effects society; the lost productivity of workers in the local and national economy, which accounts for the majority of the approximately $400 billion that federal and state governments spend to support working-age people with disabilities. All Americans deserve timely assistance to maintain their economic independence and enjoy the dignity that comes with having a job. Improved public policy, governmental efforts, and support from the private sector is needed to prevent needless disability.