After maximizing your health insurance benefits and income options, most people affected by cancer still find unexpected expenses. Depending on your situation, you may have other options for income and financial assistance. These may include charities and community resources, as well as retirement funds (such as a 401k or IRA), reverse mortgages, and life insurance possibilities.
Due to potential tax consequences and implications for your long-term financial situation, keep in mind that options such as cashing in retirement accounts or life insurance policies should be considered very carefully. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a financial professional or advisor when making these types of decisions. However, for some people who have accrued substantial debt through the course of treatment, these options can provide welcome relief.
Now, the good news! There are financial resources available to help people affected by cancer. Many charities and non-profits help in small ways, but they do help. It can feel like a full-time job exploring the financial assistance possibilities. As suggested throughout this book, consider asking friends or family members to help you learn more about income and financial resources.
The National Council on Aging created a web-based program that can help connect you with resources for which you might be eligible. While it’s not specific to the needs of people affected by cancer, if you have internet access, you may want to check it out (www.benefitscheckup.org). This free resource compares the information you give with eligibility requirements for Social Security, Medicaid, in-home services, supplemental nutrition assistance, pharmacy programs, and state programs. A printable report of programs and enrollment information is available.