As if becoming chronically ill is not enough, the stress of financial loses and struggles are enough to make a well person physically and emotionally drained. If you become sick to the point you can no longer work and you are the main source of income for yourself or your family there are some changes you can make to minimize the financial burden as much as possible.
If you can, continue to work part time with modifications
(These services and laws are for those that reside in the U.S.A)
The Americans with disability (ADA) is on your side.Since the 1970s, “reasonable accommodation” has been required by the regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and the Department of Justice, pursuant to sections 501, 503, and 504, respectively, of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Making “reasonable accommodation” to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability is generally regarded as a key to the successful employment of persons with disabling conditions. The ADA defines “reasonable accommodation” as efforts that may include:
- Making existing employee facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities
- Job restructuring
- Part-time or modified work hours
- Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices
- Appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials, or policies
- Provision of qualified readers or interpreters
- Reassignment to a vacant position
There is also something called the “Family Medical Leave Act” (FMLA) Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), most employees are entitled to a total of up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following purposes:
- The birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter
- The placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care
- The care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition
- A serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her positions
Under certain conditions, an employee may use the 12 weeks of FMLA leave intermittently. Which means if you are late because you are having a bad morning you would not be reprimanded they would just take off how many minutes you were late off your 12 week FMLA. An employee may elect to substitute annual leave and/or sick leave, consistent with current laws and OPM’s regulations for using annual and sick leave, for any unpaid leave under the FMLA.
You can still file for SSDI while working part time (SSI does not apply here)
If you feel your condition is getting worse you can still apply for SSDI while working part time as long as you do not go over the maximum income allowed by SSA. The disability process is very long and take years to get and some people have to continue to work and it is acceptable. The Social Security Administration (SSA) bases its approval of disability claims on several factors. One of those factors is whether or not the applicant is able to make a living. To make this determination, the Social Security Administration sets a maximum monthly income you may earn, called the SGA amount and still be eligible for disability benefits. SGA stands for “sustainable gainful activity”. The SSA takes the position that if you make more than this amount, you can support yourself. If you can support yourself, you are not eligible for disability benefits. In 2010, the SGA is a gross income of $1,000 per month. If you are blind, the SGA amount is $1,640 per month. This amount changes from year to year, so be sure to look up the current SGA online.
Live within your means
You may not be able to keep all the materialistic things or same lifestyle you or your family have had become accustomed to in the past and it is a huge adjustment. You might even need to move in order to afford where you live or even move in with family if you can not working at all until you are approved for disability. You might have to get a land telephone line and give up the cell phone, go down to basic cable or even no cable, and not go out to eat as much. The less you use the credit card and live within your means the less stress you will have. It can be a very humbling experience but the less debt you have the less stress and pain!
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help
If you have to apply for food stamps, reduced rates for utilities, or housing never be ashamed. These programs were made for people with disabilities and low income families. Saving 20 bucks here and there really adds up and food stamps now look like a ATM card so you do not have to worry about people giving you “the look” at the store because you are on them. A lot of people do not apply for these programs because they are too proud and all that does is cause more struggle for you and your family.
If you have kids communication is key
Kids do not see the big picture most the time. All they see is what they are losing and it can cause a lot of anger and resentment. Make sure to communicate with them why they can no longer have $200.00 dollar sneakers or the newest brand of jeans. They need to know that there is a financial struggle with age appropriate conversations. You obviously would not go over your finances with you 4 year old but teenagers should be very aware of why there is a financial change in the family. If they are more aware of what is going on and not left to fear the unknown it can ease their feelings of loss as well.
Be good to yourself
You did not ask to become sick or to put a financial burden on you or your family so drop the guilt. Family might say things out of frustration that can be hurtful but realize they are struggling as well. Not just with financial loses but with watching you struggle being ill. Always remember you can not control other peoples thoughts or words just how you react to it. Be kind to yourself! Remind yourself that the stress of financial difficulties is hard on someone that is not ill! For you it is 10 times worse and can cause you to become physically ill and have painful flareups. Sit down and go over your finances and see what you need to cut back on. If you feel you can control some of your finances you will feel a lot better!
“Whatever the struggle, continue the climb. It may be only one step to the summit.” ~Diane Westlake