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Applying for Financial Aid

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 23 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Long Term Care Long-term Care Medical

Serious illness often impacts a person's ability to earn a living, yet most people do not have sufficient funds in reserve to carry them for very long.

Living expenses can add up quickly, even when frugality is employed, so many terminally ill patients are forced to examine their financial options whilst battling their illness.

Insurance Options

Life insurance provides for survivors, but sometimes, funds are needed to cover regular expenses for the ailing and their dependents. When a family's primary (or even secondary) provider becomes incapacitated and their ability to contribute financially to the household is diminished, the financial health of a family can deteriorate rapidly.

If insurance coverage has been well planned, patients may have a number of options that can help them to stay afloat during their illness. Terminal illness policies pay out if a patient is expected to live for less than a year. Such policies can save families from defaulting on mortgages as well as helping to cover regular, recurring expenses.

Critical coverage is sometimes mistaken for terminal illness coverage, but actually provides considerably broader coverage. For example, critical care policies pay upon the diagnosis of a number on conditions that while not immediately life threatening, do have life altering consequences.

Examples of situations that qualify for payment under critical coverage include (but may not be limited to) dearly-onset Alzheimer's disease, blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, organ transplants, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, stroke, or the development of Parkinson's disease or complete disability before age 65.

Long Term Care

Long-term care needs may include assistance with washing, dressing, and eating to be provided in either a patient's home or in a care facility. Depending on the financial situation of patients (savings and other assets), financial help may be available.

Those in need should first contact their local authority. From there, an assessment will be made by social services to determine need - if both a medical and a financial need exist, the local authority may help with some or all of the expenses associated with care.

Additional assistance may be available, but coverage is dependent on age. Those under 65 may qualify for a Disability Living Allowance and those over 65 would be considered for Attendance Allowance. Neither come into play in the local authority is already providing financial assistance.

It's important to note that patients must qualify by meeting predetermined standards of low income and savings, and will be expected to utilise their own assets before being eligible for state aid. Private assets can include not only savings, but also real estate equity, so some patients may need to borrow against or sell their homes in order to access the funds.

Carer's Allowance

Those who are providing care for someone who is ailing may qualify for a carer's allowance, although it can be difficult to qualify. Eligible carers must be at least 16 years old, not enrolled as full time students, residents of the UK, not currently receiving other benefits, and must provide care for a minimum of 35 hours per week. If qualified, carers can apply for financial aid by completing a claim pack at their local Social Security office.

Serious illness is stressful for patients as well as for those who care for them. In addition to concerns over medical matters, many families must also contend with the financial hardships that can result from the loss of income associated with the inability to remain employed. Help is available for those who qualify, though, so patients and their families should make inquiries if they feel that they may be eligible for assistance.

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