Help With Bills – What To Do When You Need Help Paying Bills
- March 3, 2020
- 6 min read
- 59 reads
Very few make it out of life unscathed. Situations can happen to anyone that can completely change your financial situation in a moment, leaving you blindsided and entirely out of pocket.
A crisis can come in many forms, from unemployment, medical emergencies to losing spouses. During these times, it is hard to know who to turn to for financial support or help with paying bills.
In tough times people don’t always consider finding help until their financial situation is in a state of emergency.
Many programs are wanting to help with bills for low-income families to get back on their feet. Government agencies, churches, and community initiatives are ready with aid for those that qualify.
Assistance can be granted for anything from help with utilities, food, clothing, medical bills, and housing.
Where do I start?
When you need help with bills for single moms or help with bills for low-income families, the first place to start is benefits.gov. This government website will direct you to all the government programs in your state.
You can fill out the benefits finder information form, and it will advise you of all the benefits you may qualify for. It covers everything from financial assistance, disaster relief to help with medical bills when uninsured.
There are multiple benefits that you may qualify for, such as Low Income Heat Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Section 8 Voucher Housing Program.
LIHEAP assists with keeping families safe by providing federal assistant to manage the costs of home energy.
Section 8 Voucher Housing Voucher Program
Section 8 is a federal program helping low-income families get into a home. Both of these programs can be found on benefits.gov.
Community Action Agencies (CAA)
CAA was founded from the economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Their goal is to create a community action network of national and local community not-for-profit organizations.
These organizations connect millions of children and families to more significant opportunities and a healthier future.
The CAA, through smaller organizations, can assist with short term bill payments, food, shelter, and further job training for low-income families.
2-1-1 is a confidential program that helps people in need find what they need within their local community. They have professional operators who are well trained in dealing with a broad range of emergencies and crises.
2-1-1 can be accessed through the internet or by telephone.
They provide information on:
- Food and nutrition programs
- Housing options
- Utility assistance
- Emergency information and disaster relief
- Employment opportunities
- Education opportunities
- Services for veterans
- Health care, vaccination, and health epidemic information
- Addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs
- Reentry help for ex-offenders
- Support for individuals with mental illnesses or special needs
- Help to get out of emotional and or physical abuse
Both benefits.gov and the 2-1-1 program are a good start when staring at an emergency in the face.
Loss Of Income
Unforeseen job losses and unemployment are fast ways to fall into a financial disaster. With a shaky economy and the rapid growth of new markets employment is no longer as stable as it once was.
Acts of God, such as flooding or fires, can lead to a loss of jobs, not to mention on-site injuries that no longer allow you to fill your position. There are several programs available to you:
If your job loss is through no fault of your own unemployment insurance will provide some financial cover until you find a new job. Each state has an unemployment insurance program.
It is essential that you file your application with them as soon as you can after you have becom
e unemployed. An early application will reduce the chance of missing a paying and will help with paying bills on time.
When you cannot work because of a work-related injury or illness, this program should provide you with an equivalent replacement income. This program can also cover specific medical bills and long-term benefits if there has been a significant work accident, such as a loss of limb or death.
To apply or workers Compensation, you must fill out a report within a designated time frame set by your state from the accident. Certain types of employees are not covered by workers’ compensation, such as some farmworkers, casual and seasonal workers or undocumented workers.
Social Security Disability Insurance
This insurance can provide a benefit for an adult who has a long term illness or disability that will last longer than 12 months. Illness or disability does not have to have been work-related.
Your residual functional capacity (RFC) will determine whether you qualify for disability insurance or not.
To apply for Social Security Disability insurance, you can go to your local social security office or call 800-772-1213 to see if you qualify.
If your job is not entirely paying the bills and your income is still low, you may qualify for tax credits. The tax credit is worked out on your income and how many children you support. If you are eligible, then your tax credit is claimed when you file your income tax return.
So, unfortunately, it is not money in the bank next week, but it will help. You can go online to EITC Assistant to see if you qualify for tax credits.
Help Paying Bills Short Term
If you have assets and own your own home but have lost your job, you may not qualify for specific programs. An alternative to consider is a short term personal loan to help pay bills.
Caution must be applied, and knowledge of up and coming employment is advisable before borrowing.
If you do decide that a personal loan or HELOC may help with bills, make sure you are comparing the lowest APR’s available.
Help with Medical Bills
Benefits.gov and 2-1-1 will give you a range of options within your community to help with medical bills. They can offer suggestions as to low-cost treatment centers and programs specific to your needs.
They will also provide information on Medicare if it is an option for you to help with bills.
Medicare is a federal and state-funded program for low-income families to help cover medical bills. There are four parts of Medicare A, B, C, D:
- Part A provides inpatient/hospital coverage
- Part B provides outpatient/medical coverage
- Part C offers an alternate way to receive Medicare benefits
- Part D provides prescription drug coverage
Some higher-income families can qualify for Medicare if their medical bills are unusually high.
You can apply for Medicare at your local social security office or here.
Ask for a Discount
Many treatment centers spend hours chasing up unpaid customers, so offering to pay a portion of the bill may encourage them to lower the total invoice. The alternative is to request a payment play to help you with medical bills.
Often treatment providers will accept a payment plan. They would rather have someone come in to pay their bill than to have to chase patients for payments.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
The best way to avoid a financial crisis is to prepare for it. Regularly setting money aside in an emergency fund can be the difference between you and financial ruin.
The recommended amount of emergency savings is enough to cover three months of your household expenses.
There is often a temptation to reallocate such a large amount of savings to other things when you are not in a financial crisis.
Creating a savings and investment plan while the waters of life are calm will ensure you and your household can weather the storms of life well.
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