If you’ve been injured at work, your first line of defense is workers compensation. Workers comp is a powerful system because, unlike health insurance, it usually covers all of your medical expenses as well as transportation to and from medical appointments, all without a deductible or other bills. The bad news, though, is that although workers compensation will cover all medical care related to your injury, even if that care stretches on for years, you’ll have to get all of your care through approved providers. Furthermore, additional payments may not be enough to cover your family’s expenses if you can no longer work.
Luckily, despite the limitations of workers compensation, there are other options for making ends meet after an injury. These 3 programs and strategies can help you manage your new financial circumstances, whether you’re out of work for a few months or the rest of your life.
Turn To Your Savings
When you set up a 401(k), the stipulation is that you’re not supposed to withdraw money from the account until you retire, but there are exceptions. Faced with a serious crisis, such as sudden illness or injury, you can make a hardship withdrawal from your 401(k). Making such a withdrawal is generally discouraged and considered to be a last resort, as they come with tax penalties. You also can’t withdraw more than your immediate need, so hardship withdrawals won’t provide any additional buffer.
One reason that workers may be forced to take a hardship withdrawal is if their workers compensation claim is denied. A workers compensation lawyer can help you appeal, but you may find yourself in financial limbo. You may also need to borrow money if you’ve accidentally seen an unapproved physician before filing your claim. Still, if it’s the difference between making a 401(k) withdrawal or going without major necessities because of an injury, a hardship withdrawal is the preferable choice.
Work With A Non-Profit
Crowdfunding is a common way of covering medical expenses in our broken healthcare system. Platforms like YouCaring even specialize in health-related fundraisers. Unfortunately, if you’re disabled from a work injury, there are typically a number of restrictions on how you can earn or receive money, and some of those restrictions impact your ability to crowdfund expenses. There are certain ways around those restrictions, however, one of which is to work with an approved non-profit.
If you’ve got major disability-related expenses, such as retrofitting parts of your house to be accessible, you may be eligible for funding through non-profit programs like Help Hope Live. Help Hope Live was specially designed to protect Medicaid recipients, a program often used by workers compensation recipients. At a time when many crowdfunding campaigns are fraudulent or frivolous, Help Hope Live’s status as a 501(c)3 non-profit legitimates it in the eyes of many donors.
Evaluate Government Offerings
Applying for government benefits can be arduous, especially when you’re still in the midst of navigating your workers compensation claim, but it’s an important step toward financial stability. In particular, if you’ve filed for long-term disability, you can’t know when you’ll begin drawing an income again, or if you will at all. Among the programs you’ll want to consider are Section 8 housing assistance, SNAP benefits, and, depending on your age, disability retirement. All of these programs can provide you with financial support while you focus on your health.
Depending on whether you choose to collect monthly workers compensation payments or a lump sum, you may be caught up in this system for years to come, and that’s a stressful reality. Don’t let financial concerns make things even more difficult – get the support you need to thrive.