Belleville, Ill (Vocus/PRWEB) March 31, 2011
Financial matters receive a flurry of attention each April as taxpayers rush to meet federal and state deadlines. April is also Parkinson’s Awareness Month—and for many families living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), financial and life planning decisions take on even more urgency as they face increased medical costs and loss of employment income. Allsup, a nationwide company specializing in Social Security disability representation, Medicare plan selection and disability life planning services, offers advice to help individuals with PD meet those financial challenges, protect their assets and plan for the future.
According to the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF), PD affects more than one million people in the United States, and 50,000-60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. A PD diagnosis does not necessarily mean an individual cannot continue working. In fact, approximately one-third of those diagnosed with PD remain active in the work force, according to NPF.
If however, an individual’s Parkinson’s symptoms make it impossible for them to work, Allsup offers the following advice:
1. Determine your eligibility for social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you are under full retirement age (65-67) and meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disabled and have worked and paid into the program for five of the last 10 years, you may be eligible for SSDI. While the average age of a Parkinson’s diagnosis is 62, approximately 10 percent of Americans with PD are under the age of 40. Allsup offers a free SSDI eligibility screening and can contact SSA on your behalf to help you determine your eligibility.
2. File immediately and get help with your initial application. If an initial Social Security disability claim is denied, the national average wait for an appeals hearing is 426 days. A recent SSA report found that PD is among the top conditions denied at the initial application but subsequently approved at the hearing level (where more than 90 percent of individuals have representation). That means individuals with PD may wait an additional 500 days to receive their SSDI benefits. The earlier you seek help, the more likely you are to receive benefits with your initial application.
3. Reduce spending. The long wait for benefits means that people lose their savings, possessions and sometimes their homes. Eliminate unnecessary spending as quickly as possible and prepare for the long haul. Avoid using credit cards. High-interest debt will add to long-term problems. There may be other, more affordable options for handling expenses. More resources are available on the Personal Finance section of Allsup.com.
4. Maintain health insurance. It is tempting to cut spending on insurance, but Allsup notes that even after individuals begin receiving disability benefits there is a two-year wait period for Medicare eligibility. COBRA generally allows you and your dependents to keep employer group health plan coverage for 18 months after your employment ends. There is an additional 11-month extension available when a qualified beneficiary is determined by the SSA to be disabled. This would provide 29 months of healthcare coverage. There also are various government programs (such as Medicaid, Veterans Administration benefits, and state and local health services) that provide health insurance coverage to people who can’t afford to buy it themselves.
5. Seek out available resources. There are numerous public and private assistance resources offering financial and other help to those with disabilities or limited financial means. One resource specifically for PD patients is the Helen M. Lynch Direct Aid Fund, which offers assistance with home healthcare costs and the purchase of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers and canes.
More information on PD and financial matters is available via the webinar, Financial and Life Planning—Staying in Control, presented at the American Parkinson Disease Association and National Parkinson Foundation’s Young Onset Parkinson Conference.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARKINSON FOUNDATION
The National Parkinson Foundation supports a strong network of 43 Centers of Excellence dedicated to excellence in research and providing comprehensive, interdisciplinary care to more than 50,000 Parkinson’s patients and their families worldwide. Founded in 1957, the National Parkinson Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of care for people with Parkinson’s disease through research, education, and outreach. Since 1982, NPF has funded more than $155 million in care, research and support services. For more information about Parkinson’s disease or the National Parkinson Foundation, please visit http://www.parkinson.org or call 1-800-4PD-INFO.
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare plan selection and disability life planning services. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 700 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, visit AllsupAlliances.com.
National Parkinson Foundation
(800) 854-1418, ext. 68573