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Making a Medical Leave Request: A Guide for Students with Disabilities

Updated: May 4

Life can sometimes throw unexpected challenges our way. Whether it's due to a sudden illness, a chronic condition, or unforeseen circumstances, there may come a time when you need to request medical leave from your institution. Navigating this process can feel daunting, but with the right approach, it can be manageable.

Here are four key points to keep in mind when requesting medical leave from your institution, especially through disability services:

1. Timely Request is Crucial

One of the most important aspects of requesting medical leave is timing. As soon as you become aware of the need to take a medical leave, it's essential to make the request promptly. Many institutions have specific policies regarding the timeline for requesting medical leave. For example, Stanford University advises students to submit a Leave of Absence request as soon as they know they need to take time off due to a medical or mental health condition. This ensures that necessary arrangements can be made and that you can receive the support you need during your absence.

2. Not Retroactive

It's important to note that medical leave requests are typically not retroactive. This means that any leave granted will not apply to prior exams, projects, or assignments that were not timely submitted. Disability services cannot force professors to retroactively accommodate missed deadlines. Therefore, it's crucial to communicate with your professors about any extenuating circumstances affecting your academic responsibilities as soon as they arise.

3. Proper Channels for Appeal

If your medical leave request is denied or if additional documentation is requested by disability services, it's essential to follow the proper channels for appeal. This may involve appealing within the same department or following the specific appeals process outlined by your institution. Going to another department when you're supposed to appeal within the same department can complicate the process unnecessarily. By following the correct procedures, you can ensure that your appeal receives proper consideration.

4. Seek Advice from Multiple Sources before Dropping a Course

When faced with the decision to withdraw from courses, accept a zero, or submit half-completed assignments, seeking advice from multiple advisors and professors can be invaluable. Each situation is unique, and different perspectives can help you make an informed decision about the best course of action for your circumstances. Sometimes, withdrawing from a course may be the most appropriate option to prioritize your health and well-being. In other cases, submitting partial work may be preferable to receiving a zero. Whatever decision you make, it's essential to weigh your options carefully and seek support when needed.

For additional support and guidance throughout the medical leave request process, don't hesitate to contact Ginsburg's accommodations team. We're here to assist you every step of the way and ensure that you receive the support you need to navigate this challenging time successfully.

Remember, your health and well-being are paramount. Don't hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.

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