Being diagnosed with a critical illness can put significant pressure on your ability to meet day-to-day living expenses, especially if yours is the main source of income.
To help you manage this, we’ve outlined a few practical considerations.
Preparing your finances.
There are several things you can do to improve your financial position:
- Create or update a budget so that you have a clear understanding of your income, expenses and balance – you may have a surplus or need to reduce your expenses.
- Free up funds by reducing unnecessary or non-essential expenses.
- Consider if you could earn an income from an existing asset. For instance, if you have a spare room in your home or a car available for most of the time, you could rent these out.
- Gather essential documentation using the and store securely in a safe place for ease of reference if need by your supportive loved-ones.
Centrelink (located within the Department Of Human Services) has a number of payments available for those living with disabilities, illness and injury. Depending on your illness and financial situation, it may be appropriate for you to be placed on a pension while you are unable to work. Alternatively the Jobseeker payment may be available when you’re sick or injured and can’t do your usual work. Check eligibility criteria here or contact Centrelink to get informed regarding the process.
Consult financial experts.
Being informed about your financial position offers you some peace of mind and allows you to make more educated decisions during a time when your financial situation is changing. Contact your solicitor, accountant and financial planner (if applicable), informing them of your serious illness diagnosis so that they can offer advice regarding your investments, insurance claims and superannuation.
If you are struggling with debt and unable to meet your ongoing expenses, you can secure free financial counselling through the independent National Debt Helpline. To find a local financial counsellor, call 1800 007 007.
Contact your utility and service providers.
Contact your utility and service providers such as water, electricity, gas, council, Australian Taxation Office, phone and internet providers regarding your financial situation and to discuss possible hardship support options. Also consider setting up direct debits to pay bills and nominate an authorised representative on your accounts. This can be especially helpful if the nature of your illness or injury means that you will be unwell for a prolonged period of time.
Talk with your employer.
If you are comfortable talking to your employer, they may be able to help and offer options regarding leave, change of duties, flexible or reduced hours and work from home alternatives.
- Consider using your available sick leave, annual leave and other accrued leave alternatives. For more information, consider consulting the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Sick and Carer’s Leave Policy.
- If your super was established by your employer, it is worthwhile speaking to them about additional insurances in the superfund that you may be covered for.
- Should your condition be caused in connection with your workplace, then you may be entitled to claim Workers Compensation.
- In some situations, and with certain illnesses, you may not be able to work or you might be unsure how long your position will be held at the company while you recover. In a time of employment uncertainty or loss of your job, refer to the Job Loss support guide to help you through this period.
Managing medical costs.
Medical bills and associated costs can add up. To help you manage this, here’s some things you may want to consider:
- If you are privately insured, contact your health fund as they may offer information or services about your condition that could be helpful.
- Update your private health insurance and remain informed of what it includes to avoid paying for things you don’t need.
- If you are in receipt of a Pension or Health Care Card, you may be entitled to further discounts on your medical costs. Talk to your doctors to see whether a discount will apply for you.
- Assistance may be available to claim upon all or part of your travel and accommodation costs if you live a considerable distance from your treating hospital or organisation. Consult your private health insurance or State/Territory government organisations for more information.
- Speak to your pharmacist about ways to minimize your medication costs.
Things you should know: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.