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Financial Planning for Parkinson's Disease

Long-term financial planning is important for everyone -- but it is essential if you are coping with the expense of a chronic illness, such as Parkinson's disease.

This article offers some basic information on how to handle your finances while living with Parkinson's disease.

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Develop a Financial Plan

Dealing with a chronic illness is unpredictable, there is no way to know how you will feel or what you will be able to do days, months, or years from now. But, for your own security and that of your family, you need to plan ahead, and assume that Parkinson's will lead to increasing disability. There are professional financial managers and medical lawyers that deal with financial planning for people with chronic illnesses. Ask your doctor for a referral, or speak with a national association or support group to find a reputable professional in this area.

Consider Your Medical Coverage Options

Employee Insurance. If you are insured, either through your employer or a retirement policy, read all of the policies pertaining to chronic illness. If you are unsure about the language or terminology, contact the personnel department or your financial planner.

It is important that your insurance agree to provide for a referral to a specialist in Parkinson's disease in the event that you should need one now or in the future. Not every neurologist is a specialist in Parkinson's disease. To be a specialist, neurologists undergo further training in movement disorders.

Private Insurance. If you are unemployed and you do not have coverage, you should look for the highest level of coverage that you can afford. 

Medicare. If you are 65 or over, you will qualify for Medicare. You can supplement this insurance with a "Medigap" policy available through a private insurer. Note also that many states have prescription assistance/reimbursement programs for low-income senior citizens.

If you are disabled but too young to qualify for Social Security, you may be eligible to receive a form of Medicare for the disabled.

Medicaid. If you cannot get insurance and your income is low, you may qualify for Medicaid, a government "safety net" program that pays for medical costs that exceed a person's ability to pay.

Investigate Long- and Short-Term Disability Insurance

If you are employed:

  • Check to see if your employer has a private disability insurance plan and contact your human resources department to investigate your eligibility, the cost of enrolling, and how much of your salary it will cover.

If you are unable to continue working:

  • And you are too young to qualify for Social Security, consider state-run disability programs, unless you were enrolled in your employer's disability coverage.
  • And if your total income is below a certain level, you may qualify for federally subsidized Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you collect SSI, regardless of your age, you are a candidate for Medicaid.

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