Financial Issues Associated with Disability
It would be ideal to have created a financial plan in case you or a family member became disabled and unable to work. Your income would have exceeded your expenses, you would have saved up some money, you would have purchased disability insurance, your employer made short and long term disability coverage an affordable benefit, the list goes on and on.
The reality is that injury and illness sneak up on us and your whole world, including your financial world, turns upside down and inside out. At this time, most of us want to know what options are available? How will we pay the bills, how will we survive?
First, just because you have a disabling condition does not mean that your world of employment has ended. All the skills and knowledge that you have acquired throughout your lifetime are valuable assets and are quite often transferable into other types of job opportunities. Transferable skills are indispensable whether you have a disability or not when it comes to employment opportunities.
Second, are we talking about temporary or permanent disability? Will your condition improve? Will it get worse? This brings us back to understanding as much about your condition as possible to aid in problem solving for the present time and planning for the future.
Third, a formal education is a huge benefit when it comes to career planning. As strange as it may sound, a disability may be a blessing in disguise for those who were depending on a strong back and muscles to earn a living. Inevitably, even if you are fortunate enough to never get ill or injured, aging ultimately catches up to all of us. How many 60 year old roofers do you know? Perhaps this is the time to pick a new career direction and get yourself some training in a new or related field.
Tuition assistance is out there, however, we still need to figure out how to get your housing, food, clothes and other essentials taken care of.
There are several options for income if you have a disability. The choice for you is determined by how your disability has manifested itself in your life, what the prognosis might be and your employment status at the time that you became ill or injured.
· Sick pay / Vacation time
· Short / long term disability insurance
· Retirement plans
· Personal savings
· Worker’s compensation
· SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance]
· SSI [Social Security Insurance]
In addition to coming up with a source of income, your personal budget may require a huge review and huge changes.
· Can you afford to live in your current home?
· Can you afford the car?
· Can you afford the other luxuries?
. Cell phones, cable tv, internet access, dining out, etc.
While it is unfair that you have suffered a physical or emotional problem and are experiencing a domino effect that this has created to your lifestyle, there is one cold hard fact of reality that has to be addressed; no one owes you anything. With few exceptions, you are on your own and you will HAVE to make changes. Sorry. You may have to move into a rental, trade in your beautiful car and only have access to 50 channels. If you’re lucky, you’ll get dial up internet access for your old hand me down computer. You have to consider and plan for the worst case financial scenario.
It is a difficult concept to determine what we need as opposed to what we want in our culture here in the USA. We are battered with images of material goods that are supposed to determine our self-worth and our place, our status, within the community. Bigger, more expensive, more stuff; we can’t get away from it.
Your financial plan must be determined by what you need as you work diligently at finding the financial resources to meet those needs. It is not easy, nor is it fun; it is just necessary.
by Steven J. Smith, M.Ed