Facing a terminal diagnosis comes with a whole host of worries most people don’t want to talk or think about. But when it happens to you, it’s important to be prepared. Knowing your rights, asking questions, seeking professional help, and advocating for yourself will go a long way in making a tragic situation that much more bearable.
While many people are not familiar with how social security disability benefits work, they may be more straightforward than you realize. If you are unable to work due to your terminal illness, you are likely eligible for benefits that will help ease the financial burdens now facing you. While these benefits will never replace a full-time income, they could be enough to pull you through what is likely to be a challenging road ahead. Between these benefits and some money saving tricks, your financial future could even be manageable.
You can give yourself and your loved one’s peace of mind by researching your rights and learning more now in between those end of life memories and bucket lists. The following are just a few ideas on what you might qualify for with disability and more after a terminal diagnosis.
Know your rights.
An SSDI attorney will be more than willing to give you a free consultation to discuss your diagnosis and lead you through the beginning steps of filing a claim with the social security administration. Generally, with no upfront costs, social security disability attorneys will be able to help you apply for the rights you have earned. The amount of money you will receive each month will depend on factors such as how long you have worked, what you made when you were working, and if you worked at all.
To prepare for a meeting with a disability specialist, make sure you bring with you any personal information you feel may help with the initial application. A copy of your medical records or diagnosis will help too. If you choose to hire an attorney, they will let you know everything they need to manage your claim for you.
SSI and SSDI
There is a difference between supplemental security income and social security disability income. Social security disability insurance is something every American worker pays through taxes. Knowing how SSI and SSDI work will be important as you navigate the process of applying for and claiming benefits.
The first is the standard amount given to people without long work histories to meet the minimum costs of living. This amount won’t be much but will still help you with upcoming expenses and living costs. People who are eligible for SSI are also eligible for Medicaid; a public insurance policy that will cover your medical bills and treatments for you.
For those with long work histories, your SSDI check will be based on how long you worked and your average income. If you are eligible for SSDI, you may also qualify for Medicare insurance too. While no two cases are exactly the same, these are the general rules for what you may qualify for. Be sure to ask questions if you are unclear about your eligibility and rights as a claimant. Whatever you do, don’t wait. Apply for disability now.
People with terminal diagnoses can apply for expedited social security benefits. While there is always a wait, your case will be processed first, and even see an administrative law judge ahead of people who have been waiting for years should an issue come up. For this reason, it’s important you get your doctor involved with your social security disability case in that you will want it in writing that your prognoses are terminal.
A parent of a minor child, for example, can have up to seventy-five percent of their social security benefits given to their child until that child reaches the age of majority even after the parent’s passing. This could be critical to your family members, spouse, ex-partner, or whoever will take over child-rearing duties after you are gone. Be sure to ask about this when making your social security disability claim.
For as hard as it is to talk about, someone else will be in charge of buying those petite sweaters your daughter loves or picking out your son’s soccer cleats when he outgrows them. You will want to be sure they are in a financial place to help your kids or those you cared for and supported while working.
Taking care of this and next of kin care ahead of time and asking about survivors’ benefits now will give you peace of mind. Your children and dependents have a right to this and you do too.
For married couples, be sure to ask about survivor benefits for the surviving spouse too.
Disability benefits are just the first step in managing your finances and helping to make your time left less worrisome. Consider other services, programs, or things that may be available to you or your loved one with this new diagnosis. For example, an American Life Fund viatical settlement could be something to consider if you are worried about the end of life care expenses.
Another thing to consider when faced with a terminal diagnosis is prescription costs. No matter how good your health insurance plan is, you will still want to save money where you can. Visit y our pharmacy and ask about getting an RX coupon that could save you money with discounts on common and expensive medications.
In the End
No matter how you slice this, a terminal diagnosis is never fun or good news. But knowing your rights, applying for disability and other entitlement programs immediately, and getting your affairs in order sooner rather than later will mean more time for you and your loved ones to make memories. There’s still time to enjoy what’s left of your life to the best of your ability. Don’t let unnecessary worries get in the way.
If you or your family members are struggling with grief or in accepting the terminal diagnosis, consider calling a therapist, religious or spiritual leader, or someone you trust. Professionals are trained to handle grief counseling and can be a great tool in helping you make the best of the time you have left as well as knowing about benefits available to you.