Topic: Things that may help financially

These last 19 months since Charlie's diagnosis have been rough as I'm sure all of you have also experienced.  There's no guidebook or carefully laid out instructions on how to get the help that is out there if you just know who to ask.  I found out about most of these things by digging and research on the Internet.  I love Google, if I want to find something, I start with www.google.com and go from there. I know everyone's situation is different, but I hope this helps some of you.  Remember, be persistent and keep asking.  I've been pleasantly surprised most of the time about what people have been willing to do if you ask. 

If you have disabililty status, don't overlook other things you may be eligible for.  We usually have to provide a copy of Charlie's official notification from Soc. Sec. with the amount of his monthly check on it as proof of disability. 

-Discounted property taxes - this may vary from area to area.  In our town, I sent in the above proof of disability and our yearly property taxes on our home were reduced by about $400.
-The National Park Service reduces fees to parks, etc. if disabled:
http://store.usgs.gov/pass/access.html
-YW or YMCA membership - depending on your financial situation and if you qualify, they will reduce their membership fee.
-Don't forget to ask for a handicapped sticker or placard if you need it.  You can download the form from your state site, mine is www.ncdot.org so hopefully you can just insert the abbreviation for your state and find it.  Charlie seldom uses it, but on the days when he's sick from chemo or his legs are weak, it's really nice to have.
-Financial aid for college.  You have to fill the FAFSA form out.  Right now, our daughter's community college tuition and books are 100% paid for by financial aid. (What a relief!)
-If you have school age children, you can save $100's a year if you qualify for reduced or free lunches.  Your child's school should send a form to fill out at the first of the school year.  Also, you can get an SAT fee waiver from your child's school guidance counselor, go online and register your child for the SAT. 
-I don't know if Cancer Services is all over the country, but I'm sure there are similar agencies.  It's a United Way agency.  It definitely pays to make an appt., go in and fill out all the paperwork.  They sent our info. to another cancer organization and we got a check for $125 because Charlie has cancer.  They provide Charlie with Ensure.  He can keep his weight up with those even if he doesn't feel like eating and they are expensive.  We've been blessed so far to continue our insurance, but there are still a few things pertaining to cancer related prescriptions left to pay that Cancer Services pays for us.
-Hospitals have financial assistance forms you can fill out.  You have to ask, they don't routinely offer them.  If you qualify according to income, they will discount or write off your bill.  This has been a great help to us paying off over $2,000 in deductible and out of pocket expenses.  I didn't know this, but found out that if a hospital discounts or writes off your bill, be sure to get a letter from them specifying this.  You can then send copies of the letter to other outside providers you may have (imaging centers, etc.) and they will sometimes also discount or write off your bill just because the hospital did. The main thing is to get that letter from the hospital.

I know this is long.  I may add some more things later.  Hope it's beneficial to some of you.  Best wishes.

Carol

Re: Things that may help financially

Hi Carol:

I think this is a great service you've provided here -- a nice succinct summary of options.

I would also add that most not-for-profit hospitals do have special funds and you are right, you need to ask to apply -- they do not advertise. But this was very helpful with my mom on some on-going medical matters several years ago becuase once she qualified for the hospital's special fundning it was valid for a period of time (I think 18 months) so we didn't need to go throgh the whole process again when she was briefly hospitalized again a few months later.

As in all things, you need to be a strong and insistent advocate.

Courage,
Irene

3 (edited by JeffG Wed, 03 Sep 2008 20:30:13)

Re: Things that may help financially

Hi Carol,  You have been doing your homework or should I say research.  That is awsome about your daughter's tuitions! Where there is a will ,there is a way.  You have definitely proved that one.  I think you have been totally resourceful Carol.  It's amazing how it all adds up, during rough times, to put it mildly.  Thanks Carol , I'll have to check in to the property tax break. I imagine some of it is State by State, like you said, but definitely worth looking in to.

Bless you and Charlie!
Jeff G.
P.S.  I have to keep remembering to check recent posts.  I keep forgetting all the time.

Take it to the Limit,One More Time! (Eagles)

Re: Things that may help financially

Thank you for the information, Carol. 

I'm going to ask my son and daughter to ask about reduced tuition at our local community college. 

The information about the hospital fees is invaluable.  I wasn't aware of that program until I had paid out a bunch of money.  Later, our cancer care center's social worker told me about it.

Re: Things that may help financially

Your all very welcome.  Lisa, you can go to www.fafsa.gov.ed and fill out a long form.  It will take some time and it's a lot of information, but there are pretty good instructions and it can all be done online.  All colleges have to have it in hand before they'll consider financial aid. 

Carol

Re: Things that may help financially

Carol,

You would make a fabulous librarian! You're an information goddess!

Librarian Patty

Re: Things that may help financially

Lisa wrote:

Thank you for the information, Carol. 

I'm going to ask my son and daughter to ask about reduced tuition at our local community college. 

The information about the hospital fees is invaluable.  I wasn't aware of that program until I had paid out a bunch of money.  Later, our cancer care center's social worker told me about it.

Lisa if your children are already in college, please have them go to the financial aid office and speak with someone. I worked in 2 colleges in student services and both had pots of money they dont advertise to help students in such cases. Carol is right, students needed the FASFA filled out first because it gives schools a quick insight into family finances.

Best of luck

Cancer is a word, not a sentence.

36 year old patient with buckets of hope