Searching for a Job When You Live with Pain

Question: I am currently searching for a job. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune illness lupus. It is well controlled, but it gets a fair amount of time and attention in my daily living. Should I bring this up in my job interviews?

Answer: “This is a frequent question that I hear,” said Steve Hines, a career counselor and job search coach in Atlanta at and the author of Atlanta Jobs, now in its 19th edition. “There are some definite suggestions that I would make. Wait until after you’ve been through the interview process and are down to the point of the background search, which will be undertaken just before a hiring offer will be made. If you disclose any personal problem sooner, the company can use it to eliminate you as a candidate. It is not illegal to exclude a candidate for consideration based on a pre-existing illness. As you know, you can be turned down as an applicant for any reason earlier in the hiring process.

“That said, once you reach the background check stage, call the human resources representative responsible for the position and say, ‘I just want to call it to your attention that I have a controlled illness, lupus, and it will not be an interference with the job.’ That will take care of the disclosure in a transparent, direct way without it becoming a figural element in the hiring process.”

He adds that as a result of the Affordable Care Act, no one can be excluded from a company’s health insurance coverage for a pre-existing condition.

Our expert: Jackson Rainer is a board-certified clinical psychologist who practices with the Care and Counseling Center in Decatur, Georgia, helping people living with chronic illnesses. He consults with a variety of experts to answer a selection of readers’ questions in each issue of Pain-Free Living.

Have questions about living with and managing chronic pain? Email questions to [email protected]. Please put “PFL Q&A” in the subject line.

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