It’s an unfortunate reality, but having a physical or mental disability puts you at a financial disadvantage for the future. While there are some programs that provide aid to those who are differently-abled, like Medicare plans for individuals under 65 who receive Social Security disability benefits, they don’t cover every expense, and you aren’t able to receive assistance immediately. Fortunately, there are ways to plan for tomorrow, but you have to be willing to start today. Here are some tips to help get you started.

The Poverty/Disability Connection

It’s been more than two decades since former Pres. George W. Bush passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, disabled Americans still struggle to find gainful employment for a number of reasons. National Public Radio recently outlined the story of former semi-professional football player Emeka Nnaka. Nnaka, who broke his neck during a tackle gone wrong, went from throwing passes to wheeling himself around in a wheelchair. Along with millions of other people with physical and mental disabilities, Nnaka was forced to rely on public services or the kindness of friends and family for many years after the accident. Today, the aspiring counselor says that even getting into a building for a job interview is difficult. This, along with low SSI benefits, has many disabled Americans struggling to pay bills today – and there’s a little room to consider saving for tomorrow.

 

Funding the Future

Those with disabilities often face the need for long-term care, usually in the form of a nursing home. Medicaid is available for individuals that are considered low income. Other options include veteran benefits and Medicare, the latter of which may help pay for rehabilitation and mental health care in a clinical environment under very specific conditions.

Long-term care insurance is another popular payment possibility, and is less expensive the earlier it’s acquired. The US Department of Health and Human Services explains that long-term care insurance is designed specifically to cover the financial aspects of custodial care. Cost is based on a number of factors, including age, benefit allowance, and whether you choose a policy that keeps up with inflation. Even if you have a disability, you may still qualify for long-term care insurance, although benefits may be reduced.

If you own your home and are at least 62 years old, you may be eligible for a reverse mortgage. While not a complicated process, obtaining a reverse mortgage is full of nuances that make it a product not suitable for everyone. Benefits include receiving a lump-sum payment that could be used for long-term care – you can even remain in the home payment-free and use the money to pay for home healthcare. However, a reverse mortgage isn’t for everyone, and can have serious complications where your estate is concerned. Before making any decisions, it’s wise to compare multiple options and find one that meets all your financial needs.

Another consideration worth making is getting a burial insurance plan, which covers not only your final arrangements, but can also pay for other final expenses. Should you leave behind outstanding bills toward your long-term care, money left over from a burial policy can cover these costs without serious implications on your estate, and ease your loved ones’ financial burden after you pass.

 

Self-Insurance Remains an Option

Saving money is difficult no matter your income bracket, but it is possible to put some cash aside for the future, even if you plan ahead and have long-term care insurance. This will require a little extra work on your part but, over the course of many years, small actions can build up a nice little nest egg. The Simple Dollar offers 100 great tips on how to save money, which you can put into an account specifically to cover retirement or long-term care expenses. Keep in mind that even if Medicaid covers your residential and medical needs, you will still have to pay for clothing and other necessities throughout your lifetime. This CNN Money guide offers more information on what Medicare does and doesn’t cover.

If the idea of trying to plan for the future scares you, you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of disabled Americans worry about this each year. The best way to alleviate worries and fears is to take preemptive action and have a plan.

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