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Money Management After Traumatic Injury: How To Pay Your Bills When You Can’t Work

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

1 in 4 20-year-olds will experience a long-term disability and be out of work for at least a year before reaching retirement age. And, 5% of working Americans sustain a short-term disability (spanning six months or less) every year. Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common long-term disability (27.6%) that keep people out of work, followed by cancer (15%), fractures and sprains (12%), mental health issues (9.3%), and heart attacks and strokes (8.2%). If you’ve sustained a traumatic injury, smart money management is essential for continuing to make ends meet while on the road to recovery. 

Get financial help

The federally-run Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs are intended to help with the financial burden of longer-term disability. The average SSDI payment is $1,358 a month, which is around $16,296 annually. Keep in mind you need to be unable to work for at least one year to qualify. Alternatively, your employer may offer disability insurance or health insurance products (including accident insurance or critical illness insurance). Disability insurance, in particular, pays a portion of your salary until you either return to work or for a period of time as stated in your policy. Critical illness and accident insurance, on the other hand, both typically provide a one-off, lump-sum payment as determined by your diagnosis and/or accident.

Get legal help

If your injury is the fault of another person, a lawyer can help you determine whether or not you have grounds for legal action. Permanent spine, head, and neck injuries, in particular, are commonly caused by car accidents. In fact, the total cost of harm generated by loss of life, pain, and decreased quality of life due to car accidents is estimated to be a staggering $594 billion every year in the United States. Fortunately, an experienced accident lawyer can help people involved in traffic collisions file a lawsuit and win financial compensation to cover the cost of resulting damages. 

Create a basic budget

Create a budget that covers just the minimum essentials you need to live (such as, rent, transport, groceries, and insurance). Ideally, you should devise and stick to a barebones budget before dipping into your emergency fund if you have one (30% of Americans can’t pay an unexpected $400 bill without using a credit card or loan). So, cut back on needless expenses like gym memberships and eating out (the latter costs the average couple $300 a month). Also, if you’re temporarily staying in a rehabilitation facility, consider turning off your utilities to save money. Alternatively, call your service providers to either ask for better rates or to set up an alternate payment plan while you’re out of work and recovering. If you’ve sustained a traumatic injury, financial worries will likely be a key concern. Fortunately, by getting financial and legal help and creating a basic budget, you can continue to make ends meet and place most of your focus on recovering. 

Written by Marcus Richards

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