Planning Your Finances with a Spinal Cord Injury
We’ve discussed the costs of living with a spinal cord injury before, and they’re significant. From over $100,000 per year for health care costs to lifetime cost that are over $4 million dollars, the costs of living with a spinal cord injury can be soul-crushing. The truth is that many people with spinal cord injuries could never dream of having the resources available to do everything they would like. It’s just too darn expensive.
Modifying a home can cost tens of thousands of dollars. A modified vehicle can cost over $50,000 new and adaptive sports can cost much more than the average able-bodied pay for sports. It's expensive to live with a spinal cord injury and there’s no getting around it. While you can learn to live frugally, reuse certain medical supplies, buy used equipment such as a wheelchair or a van, it still costs more to live post-SCI. So what can we do?
Financial planning is the answer. Even if you don't have a lump sum of money in your account or amazing health insurance at the time of your injury, there are still things you can do to get as financially secure for your future as possible. Whether it’s small like starting a savings account or consulting with a lawyer to see what your options are, there’s always something you can do to be more financially sound. See what we mean below.
Locate All Pertinent Paperwork to Your Finances
Have someone you can trust, if you're not married, track down all of the important paperwork that is tied to your finances. This includes bank statements, pay stubs, contracts and anything else that may come into play when trying to ensure your needs are covered. While you're at it, make sure you have a plan for paying your bills while in the hospital. And if possible, try to talk to a financial planner about getting an estimate on your medical expenses. This may involve a medical professional, such as a nurse or doctor, to assist.
If Working At Time of Injury, Inquire About Disability Benefits
While many people are injured before their working years, a large portion of people with spinal cord injuries are not, and are injured when they're adults in the midst of their professional lives. If this is the case for you, make sure to talk to your employer about disability benefits that may be possible through your company. Many company health care plans offer assistance if you become disabled while working for them.
Look at Health Insurance and VA Benefits for Extra Funds
Your bank account is not the only source of funding to consider. Look at your health insurance to see if they may pay for anything other than costs associated with equipment, caregivers, supplies and appointments. Some healthcare plans will pay for vehicle expenses for example. Also, if you’re a veteran, make sure to inquire about VA benefits. The VA will offer interest-free home loans to veterans.
Look to Auto Insurance and Workers' Comp for Extra Funds
If your injury happened in a vehicle, your auto insurance or the auto insurance of the other person involved in the accident may be able to pay for certain costs associated with your injury. Workers' compensation may also be possible. Meet with your employer, as discussed above, to see what they can offer. You may want to consider legal consultation before these meetings to be as informed and empowered as possible.
Consider Legal Action
If your injury occurred because of somebody else, you could very well file a lawsuit against any of the parties involved, from the health insurance companies to the company driving the other car (if a business is involved in a car accident). There are, of course, a myriad of directions things can go depending on your injury, but it is always best to consider this in case it is an option, as living with a spinal cord injury can become increasingly expensive. Contact a lawyer to see if you have a case.
Set up a Special Needs Trust
If you do end up receiving a lump sum of money as a result of a lawsuit, an inheritance or a cash payout because of your injury, it is always a good idea to consider getting a special needs trust so you do not lose your government benefits. Chances are the money received from this outside source will not fund your life completely. This is where a special needs trust comes in, as it ensures you can still be eligible for Medicaid, SSI and VA pensions.
Fundraisers are more popular than ever thanks to the Internet. Now people can go online and raise money for their injured family member or friend, which can help in a huge way. Social media helps in massive leaps and bounds, folks. Some of the popular sites used are:
It never hurts to try.
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