Managing your money through illness or injury
Bills need to be paid even if illness or injury keep you out of work for any length of time.
The mortgage, credit cards, rates, rent, utilities, insurance and loans plus a host of other bills stack up regardless of your circumstances. Dealing with a serious illness or injury is stressful enough without having to consider how to cope financially. Money is not likely to be high on your immediate list of concerns.
However, making sure you get everything you are entitled to and offsetting bill payments can help relieve some of the stress of an already traumatic circumstance.
When you are injured or ill, it’s easy to miss important information, so it’s essential to have someone by your side who can listen, question and ensure your needs are met.
Choose someone you can trust, such as a close relative or friend, who can be your advocate, and help understand instructions from medical professionals as well as organise any medical payments. If you find yourself alone, search online for support networks and community health organisations for your particular illness or injury, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help for any emotional problems.
The available government services include the Department of Human Services or Centrelink.
In very limited circumstances, you may get early access to your superannuation on compassionate grounds if the illness or injury is catastrophic. You can apply through the Department of Human Services. You might also like to contact Financial Counselling Australia to talk to someone who can provide free, unbiased information to help with your financial difficulties.
Other things you should do include checking with your employer on how much paid sick leave you have, whether you can take unpaid leave, and how long you can have off work. The Fair Work Ombudsman’s sick and carers’ leave information covers your rights at work.
Check your insurance policies, including any linked to your superannuation, to see if they provide income support or bill payment help.
Types of insurance include:
- income protection, which provides an income if you are unable to work
- health insurance, which can help with medical costs
- total and permanent disability insurance, which can be included in your superannuation and covers the costs of rehabilitation, bill payments and living costs
- trauma cover, which covers specified illnesses or injuries.
Open up about your circumstances to your debtors and ask for a hardship variation to your bills. Many companies have hardship officers who can help you with a repayment plan that is manageable in your circumstances, such as paying in instalments.
From setting up these repayment plans to choosing appropriate insurance, a financial adviser may help take care of your finances while you’re injured or ill, which means you can focus on recovering.