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How People with Disabilities Can Start Planning for Future Financial Security

Guest post by Ed Carter with AbleFutures.org


People that have a disability — especially one that prevents them from working or causes major mobility issues — are much more likely to need medical and/or custodial care as they age. While there are programs (both public and private) available to financially assist those with disabilities, you can’t just rely on having the financial cover when the time comes. Here’s what you should do right now to begin planning for better security later in life.


Start by getting a handle on what you need

It seems like a given, but many people don’t have a solid grasp on their income versus their expenditures. Before you can even start to think about the future, you need to know your baseline budget. How much do you need to bring in through various income sources in order to cover the cost of living with your disability? Use a basic budget worksheet to get started. After you’re done, begin looking at places where you can trim the fat.


Figure out your Medicare enrollment

Medicare parts A and B will be able to help you with the medical (and potential hospital) side of your disability expenses. If you decide to sign up for parts C and/or D, you may also get coverage for your prescription medications, vision, dental, and more auxiliary services. It’s worth taking some time to learn more about the different plans.

If you’re unsure about what Medicare coverage you can receive in your state, take a look at a state-by-state guide. You can find your state, and you’ll be presented with websites and contact information for the in-state organizations that can put you on the right track.


Know the difference between your governmental disability benefits

If you qualify for government disability benefits, it’s important you know your various options. It’s not all the same thing. First, your Social Security Disability insurance pays out if you worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes to be “insured.” Next, you have Supplemental Security Income, which helps lower-income people with disabilities; it has nothing to do with how much you’ve paid into Social Security.

There are also dozens of smaller programs that can help. Eligibility often depends on your state of residence and veteran status.


Consider your need for long-term care

Even if you plan to be independent as you age, you may need some level of long-term care at some point. This could mean at-home nursing or medical help or even assistance modifying your home to allow for better mobility. Paying for it can be a struggle. It’s important you know Medicare will not help with these specific costs. You should consider long-term care insurance—look into whether you qualify for Medicaid (Medicare’s low-income cousin that helps with this sort of thing) and whether your current insurance allows you to open a Health Savings Account.


Start making home modifications gradually

Home modifications can help you stay in your home longer — even with major disabilities. These modifications can range from wheelchair ramps, widened doors and hallways, stair lifts, grab bars and handles, gripped flooring, and much more. These can be costly, but you can help yourself out by getting an early start. Put together your modified home piece by piece.

As you age, the costs associated with your disability will likely rise. That’s why it’s vital you take the time now to begin planning for how you’ll cover those costs when they begin to increase. Remember: Your base health insurance may not cover everything you need — especially if what you need involves home modifications or long-term care. You must take an inventory of what you think your expenses will be, and find alternative ways to make up the difference.

Over the years, Ed Carter has worked with clients of all ages, backgrounds, and incomes. About 10 years into his career, he saw a need for financial planners who specialize in helping individuals and families living with disabilities. Regardless of their nature or how long they’ve affected someone, physical and mental disabilities often cause stress and confusion when it comes to financial planning.  

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