In a pickle

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jones34
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In a pickle

Post by jones34 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:23 pm

I hope this is the correct place to post this. I've been reading the blog, and I like a lot of the advice, so I'd thought I'd reach out here. I'm dealing with bad health. After an unpreventable accident, I've had poor health for years. Before that I was on track to retire early. Instead I've spent all that money and racked up huge debt: $200,000. I want to cry just seeing that, and that's without getting all the medical care my doctors recommended. I've trimmed my budget as far as it can go, even skipping meals every day, and next month I move into my vehicle, stealth camping for free on the street.

My pickle is that my health has continued to decline. At this point it's unrealistic that I will be able to work more than 20 hours a week. I'm 40 years old. By living in my vehicle I will now break even each month, but that's with minimal payments on the debt and no retirement savings. I do not know what to do. I'm a social worker, and I work with low income seniors, and I see how hard it is for people with little money. I can work more when I work from home with frequent breaks, but I don't know any work from home careers that pay well that I qualify for. I don't really know what I'm asking, except maybe, where would you start in this situation? Part time jobs in social work are rare, so I'm being underpaid-$20 an hour. I have high medical costs each month to stay alive. I could go on disability, but that would be $1100 a month, and I make more than that now, but with crappy ACA insurance. I've spent so much time trying to find something else to cut from my budget that I've lost the ability to see the big picture. I don't have any family still alive. So I guess what I'm asking is, where should I start? I am looking for better paying, work from home jobs, but none have come up that I am qualified for. I'm just so sick with stress over this I felt I needed to get it out there, even if no one has any ideas, because the stress is not helping my health.

prognastat
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Re: In a pickle

Post by prognastat » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:48 pm

Sorry to hear you're in such a tough situation. There's not a whole lot I can add.

Can you increase your income? Either receive a raise/promotion at work? Are there any side jobs you would be capable of doing to add some exra side income?

It sounds like you've gotten to a break even point where you can pay your bulls and the minimums on your debt, but that's all. Would you be in a position to file bankruptcy? If you are unable to make ends meet this might be a way out and then while still living on the absolute minimum slowly build back up?

jones34
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Re: In a pickle

Post by jones34 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:55 pm

Thanks for getting back with me. I have thought about filing for bankruptcy, but I'm holding that as a last resort. Plus some of my debt is student loans, and since I went years without working and without making payments, the interest added up.

I actually took a 25% pay cut when I went part time. I just met with my boss this morning, and there's no way they will pay me more. The only part time jobs I've found in my field are low paying jobs. I could do a side job if it was from home, and I decreased my hours at work some. I just haven't found a decent paying, at home one.

I figure by the end of the year if things don't change I should probably meet with a bankruptcy lawyer, that just feels like a huge fail. But bad health helps you put your pride aside at times.

Just getting all this out there has helped some. I've hidden it from all my friends because I don't want more pity. I've felt pretty isolated.

Jean
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Jean » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:15 pm

You say that you get treatment just to stay alive. What are the chances your health will get better? What would it take?
If not, how quickly would it get worse without any treatment?
Here some options i would ponder in your situation.
Go to France and stay there illegaly, you could claim the aide medicale d'urgence. I know australians have done it. Don't bother about the morale aspect of it. The faster this system crash, the better it is and if you can get free treatment from it, good for you.

On disability insurance, how much would you have left after your treatment? What would happen if you'de stop paying your debt? Could you see yourself camping in a tent year round on national forest? 1100 a month looks like a lot of money to me, so this lifestyle might be affordable. Tenting in forest is less stressful to me than stealth car camping in urban areas. Maybe for you too?

Thanks for reminding me how valuable good health is. I've lived in my car for one year. Budget was and is 500.- a month, and if i can give you ideas that would make your life easier, i'de be happy about it.

Paula
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Paula » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:53 pm

Is your state one of the 33 that extended Medicaid?

https://familiesusa.org/product/50-stat ... -expansion

If so, take a look at your income. Here are the income limits for each state.

https://www.policygenius.com/blog/a-sta ... -medicaid/

That may not solve all of your problems but it will eliminate the costly health insurance you currently have and will provide your medication for free.

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Riggerjack
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:00 pm

To OP.

What you have been doing is not working, right? I don't mean to make assumptions, I am asking because I think a more radical approach is going to be necessary. To really look at different approaches, it is often necessary to let go of old habits. If this is necessary, it can't be skipped.

Part time social work. That sounds like you are competing against a world of SAHMs. It doesn't seem like a good place to increase income from. Use your own judgement, you know your skills and markets better than I.

So, if my primary paycheck doesn't get it done, I can...

Get a bigger primary paycheck. Already suggested, and hard.

Double down on the work that makes the primary paycheck. Sounds like this is out.

Pull a side gig. This you haven't described. What have you considered for a side gig?

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Riggerjack
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:05 pm

Start a business.

What do you know how to do? What do you know how to sell? What can you get?

Because you are 40, now. You have lived life, and learned. And now you need to look at what you have learned, for something you can do to supplement what you are already doing.

It doesn't need to be big, or brilliant. It just needs to work more than it fails, with the possibility to improve. Start small, fail often in ways that don't do much damage, and leverage your success.

Good luck.

Scott 2
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:51 pm

How far have you looked into disability?

My understanding is that when paying into social security, you are also paying to be eligible for SSD. This is insurance, rather than the government aid that is SSI. It is not means tested.

If you qualify, you are not ineligible to work once on it. Rather, there is a maximum monthly income allowed, AFTER medical expenses needed to enable you to work. You sound very close to that line.

Another consideration is that after some period of time, I think two years on SSD, you'd qualify for Medicare. That could help ease the financial burden of your condition.

It may be time to consider if you are disabled, and how to best use the aid available to you. The situation you've described certainly sounds like the type of hardship we pay into social security for.

Scott 2
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Scott 2 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:55 pm

I also think there is no shame in pursuing medical bankruptcy in your situation. The price of care has become unaffordable if you fall through one of the cracks. When caught in a broken system, the best option you have is to work it.

Dream of Freedom
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Dream of Freedom » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:22 pm


CS
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Re: In a pickle

Post by CS » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:15 am

Running your health into the ground to earn more dollars the way you are doing it now is not going to help you. One career you could do from home is self-publishing fiction. I know of at least two people who cannot work regular jobs due to health or other reasons and are supporting themselves (and family in one case) on this. It's not a guarantee , but it is a possibility if you have skills in that direction.

I would seriously consider the medical bankruptcy. If not that, try to negotiate payment plans with all that you owe. I've heard you can negotiate to pay some percentage of the debt. They will settle for some, rather than none.

For me, the last resort would be the disability filing, due to the long-term limitations on earning income, as well as the difficulty in getting it (there are lawyers dedicated to helping people get this it can be so hard). But there are some options for discharging your student debt due to disability if you have straight up federal loans. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/node/93

I have occasional health bouts that put me out for days at a time. It's no joke. I cannot imagine trying to function like that with more than one job.

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Bankai
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Bankai » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:54 pm

Hi, sorry to hear about your health issues.

Personally, I consider health to be the most important. Money is only in 3rd place (after time). It looks to me like your debt burden is wearing you down psychologically and the stress is certainly not helping. Do you think you have a reasonable chance of paying the debt off within, say, 5 years? If not, bankruptcy certainly seems like a valid option. It could allow you to start afresh, stop mental and emotional drain and allow you to focus on your main issue - health. If you could support yourself with a small part-time job, you'd have most of the week to work on getting better healthwise (sorry if that's not possible - you've not specified the nature of your health issue). Once this is under control, you could then spend that time looking for a better job, obtaining qualifications etc. One thing to keep in mind though if you decide to go the bankruptcy route is if you think you might need another expensive treatment in near future - I'm not an expert on this but it might be difficult to obtain it if you've just declared.

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chenda
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Re: In a pickle

Post by chenda » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:21 pm

Have you considered emigrating ? Somewhere with cheaper healthcare or lower COL. Some countries give citizenship based on ancestry. And I believe there is a shortage of social workers in some English speaking countries.

Also - and I don't mean to sound flippant - could you get married at some point ?

Augustus
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Re: In a pickle

Post by Augustus » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:22 pm

Scott 2 wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:51 pm
How far have you looked into disability?
+1

In your shoes, I think I'd look at both filing for a medical bankruptcy and getting a disability check and benefits coming in each month. IIRC there was another lady on the forums about a year ago who was getting some kind of disability assistance AND they paid her to retrain. Once your immediate money emergencies are calmed down, i.e. you should have a disability income coming in each month, free medical care, and your debt should be wiped out, look at trying to get assistance in retraining. If it were me (I've always liked computers) I would do a programming bootcamp of some kind, you could most likely earn 25+/hr from home within 1 year of starting the bootcamp. There is plenty of remote work in computers. Eventually you can get off the disability income and just plan to work from home.

sky
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Re: In a pickle

Post by sky » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:45 am

If you are eligible for government assistance, I recommend applying for it. Hopefully it includes both an income and medical insurance. Spend your time focusing on how to improve your health. I would also pursue legal debt relief.

EdithKeeler
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Re: In a pickle

Post by EdithKeeler » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:15 pm

I would, first of all, file bankruptcy. I see no way you're going to pay off those kinds of bills. (My brother filed bankruptcy for $100K+ incurred for a serious asthma attack when he thought he had insurance but only had a minimal policy).

Secondly, living in your car and skipping meals is probably NOT going to get your health back on track. I'd rethink that strategy.

You don't say where you live. Are you in a high COL area? Moving someplace like Tennessee (where i live) or other cheap place may make more sense. I live in Memphis, and it's possible to find an apartment for $800 or less; find a roommate and cut that in half. You didn't say what kind of social worker you are, or what your licensure, etc. is, but I googled "social worker" in Memphis and found several open positions advertised, though I don't know if those are in line with what you do. Maybe, given your health, being a full time social worker is no longer an option, so I don't know if you're considering other sorts of part time jobs.

If you're truly disabled, then I'd start applying for disability--often it takes a while to get it. Eventually you would qualify for Medicare for your health insurance if you get SSDI.
Last edited by EdithKeeler on Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

EdithKeeler
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Re: In a pickle

Post by EdithKeeler » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:38 pm

By the way, total disability will allow certain student loans ( I don’t think all) to be discharged. You might want to look into that as well.

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BlueNote
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Re: In a pickle

Post by BlueNote » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:50 pm

In Canada we have a profession called trustee in bankruptcy who helps people like you decide if and how to go through the bankruptcy process. I don't know if there is a US analogue but you should look into it. You should also look at government programs and charity and get on as many programs as possible, if you already haven't. You sound like a typical FIRE oriented person who is very independent, frugal, responsible and would be disappointed in yourself to have to go through bankruptcy and/or use these types of services. However you sound like the perfect candidate for these services because they're geared to getting people back on their feet as soon as possible. If you were a Canadian I'd be happy that my tax and charity dollars were helping you back on your feet again. You're a social worker so you must be savvy about the programs that are available, tap into that knowledge.

trfie
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Re: In a pickle

Post by trfie » Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:55 pm

First I would aim at improving my mindset. If you are not optimistic, you are not going to spot opportunities that come your way, even if they are right in front of you. You could start with meditation. 1 minute a day. Can increase it to 5 minutes/day over time.

The question is what is the prognosis of the health conditions. Is it something that will inevitably get worse over time? That is going to impact the decision-making. Is it a stable chronic disease that with all the recommended treatments will not impact your ability to work? Then you would aim to make changes in that direction. Diet is related to many illnesses. Not only to prevent and treat, but also to improve mood, energy. Since you don't have much free time and a lot going on, you will also want to make small changes over a long period of time.

You are looking at the work situation/paycheck the wrong way. You mention not knowing of or being able to find "higher paying jobs." The question is what are you good at, what can you contribute? What are you the best at doing? Then find a way to turn that into a job, the return will be higher than trying to search for a job that won't fit your skills as well.

It's also important to recognize what is wrong with the system that allowed such high health costs in the first place. It's not going to help you, because a new system would take decades to implement, but could help to prevent this from happening to others. It's too far off-topic to discuss what that looks like here, but at least everyone should be voting and having some impact politically.

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