There is no escaping the aches and pains that come with getting older. Chriseta Gaskin, a 61-year-old personal banker, tried to ignore the pain in her knees for as long as she could, but it got to be too much.
“When I’m on the teller line and opening new accounts, the majority of my day is spent standing,” she said. “The normal wear and tear of doing my job over the years took its toll, and my knees went bone to bone.”
In constant pain and struggling to perform her bank duties, Chriseta contacted her HR department and informed them about her decision to have knee replacement surgery. To prepare for her leave, Chriseta and her doctor filled out the paperwork she would need to send to Unum. “The process was very easy and everyone at Unum was helpful,” she said.
After undergoing successful knee replacement surgery, Chriseta entered into Unum’s Rehabilitation and Return to Work Assistance Program, a standard component of Unum’s short term disability and long term disability plans for those who qualify.
“Chriseta was motivated to return to work, so I worked with her employer to create a transitional return-to-work plan and shared it with Chriseta’s attending physician for approval,” said Kim Walker, the vocational rehabilitation specialist from Unum working with Chriseta. “Everyone agreed that Chriseta, when she was ready, would begin with a transitional return to work schedule that allowed her to increase her work tolerance with a gradual transition back to full-time duty.”
Despite there being a plan in place to get her back to work, Chriseta was still nervous about making ends meet while she was out and not receiving a paycheck. Thankfully, she was able to put those fears aside.
“I was aware of how much money I’d need to live while I wasn’t working,” she said. “My disability benefits check was direct deposited regularly, so I always had money to pay the bills. It was nice to not worry about expenses, because I did have anxiety about if I’d really even be able to work again.”
According to Chriseta, Kim was instrumental in helping her through the recovery process that included lots of physical therapy and learning how to walk again.
“Kim was amazing,” she said. “When she called, it was just like talking to a friend. I didn’t have to keep telling my story over and over. She was always aware of what was going on and where I was in my rehabilitation. She kept up with everything, explained the transition back to work process and really emphasized that I shouldn’t overdo it, and was regularly in touch with my employer.”
As a result of these proactive interventions, Chriseta successfully returned to work on a part-time basis and then transitioned to full time with accommodations that made her more comfortable.
And while Chriseta will need to have another knee replacement surgery soon, she’s comfortable with the process now. She’s also motivated to get it done.
“What mattered most to me throughout this whole process was my grandkids,” she said. “They’re ready for me to play with them again.”