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How to Cope Financially When You Are Suddenly Disabled

It is difficult to imagine living your life as you always do, enjoying your friends and family, going to work, socializing on the weekends and then WHAM.

All of a sudden you are hit with a disease or have an accident that renders you disabled.

The last thing on your mind might be your finances. However, it is best to try to figure out what your options are as soon as you can before you find yourself significantly financially behind the eight ball.

The first thing you should do if you have been recently injured is to call a personal injury lawyer to find out what you are legally entitled to given your specific situation and where you live.

Suddenly Disabled

Your Emotions

Becoming suddenly disabled can leave you feeling scared, out of control and not sure where to turn. In addition to the emotional stress you will be put under, you will suddenly be faced with financial stress as well.

Allow yourself the time to feel the emotions that go along with suddenly becoming disabled. Don’t try to cover up your feelings because they will eventually come out.

Talk to family and friends about how you are feeling so that you will have the emotional strength to move on and do what is necessary to get your life in order.

Support Groups

No matter how isolated and alone you might feel, there are always others who are going through or have gone through similar situations.

Not only can you find comfort in talking with others who have been through the same upsets in their lives, you can also get much-needed advice and suggestions on how to make the right decisions based on their experiences.

Your Employer

If you are employed, find out what your company’s sick leave and disability policies are. Some companies have more generous sick leave policies.

Depending upon the nature of your disability, you might be covered under sick leave.

You might also be able to work out an arrangement with your employer that could include flexible hours or perhaps you can work from home for a period of time.

Most companies also have disability benefits. Discuss your company’s policies with the Human Resource department so that you know what you are entitled to under their policy.

Disability Benefits

Each state has different disability benefits to help you through your ordeal. You should check your specific state for eligibility requirements, how to apply for benefits, and specifically what you are entitled to receive.

After you apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you will usually be required to wait for a decision to be made. During that waiting period, what can you do to help your financial situation?

Some states will offer you temporary benefits that can help you financially while you wait for the eligibility decision.

To find the right agency in your area, type in “disability benefits” with the name of your county. You will find the right place to call.

What’s Next?

If your disability becomes permanent, you will have to make difficult life changes.

If you are employed, talk to your employer about making accommodations that might enable you to continue doing your job. For example, if you are confined to a wheelchair, your employer is required to provide wheelchair access in the building where you work.

If you are no longer able to perform your current job, you may qualify for another position with your employer.

If there is no possible way to continue with your current employer, you will have to consider a career change better suited to someone with your disability.

Other Financial Assistance for the Disabled

Most states offer extra benefits to those in the low-income category.Check with your local or state office to see if you are eligible to receive food stamps. You can get assistance from a social worker to help you.

If your family falls into the category of extreme financial need, you might be able to receive emergency rent or utility payment assistance.

Medical Expenses

Medicaid or other state health insurance programs have financial-need requirements for eligibility. There are also clinics that offer medical services on a sliding scale based on certain income thresholds.

Check with your regular doctor to see if they can work with you on a sliding scale as well. Let your doctor know that you have a disability application in process and have financial concerns.

Tina Roth

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