Is there help for someone under age 65, who has serious illness and little money?

5 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Hopeful1 asked...

Help! I don't know where to start. My mother, aged 61, who has had peripheral neuropathy (with an open wound) for years, was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 months ago. She has finished chemo, which exacerbated her foot ulcer severely, but wound up in the hospital for a month with a MRSA infection in her bone. She is now home, for the time being, but goes back in for surgery (mastectomy) this week. She has been instructed not to walk at all, save getting to the restroom. My best friend and I are helping with her care, but are overwhelmed, as now Mom has lost her job. We've applied for Medicaid, but are still awaiting determination. She has a mortgage, huge medical bills and credit card debt, with no savings to her name. With no income, what can I do to help her?

Expert Answers

You've begun with the right place in applying for Medicaid, which can cover almost all of your mother's medical expenses. If she has no savings or income, she can qualify even if she owns her home.

For financial help, she can apply for state unemployment insurance. If her health continues to prevent her from doing any work, she can also apply for Social Security disability benefits. She can qualify for these benefits if she cannot now do any gainful work but she has worked for 10 years total during her lifetime. If she remains disabled and cannot work, she may also apply for Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) at the same office where she applied for Medicaid.

If your mother qualifies for Social Security disability benefits and remains disabled for two years, she will also become eligible for Medicare coverage of her medical bills (even though she won't yet be age 65).

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

There is another option available that many people may not know about. Your Life Insurance Policy can be a valuable asset to you at this time.


In many cases, people find themselves struggling to pay for the appropriate care. If you have a life insurance policy, this does not have to be the case for you. There are companies that do a complete evaluation of your life insurance policy to let you know of all your options and will also determine the value or purchasable price for this asset. In many cases, as long as you are working with a Funder, this is no cost to you. Your policy is property that you own, just like your car or your house. You make payments to car and you make payments to your life insurance policy, making it available for a cash settlement.


If you feel you would like to research this option, I am an expert in this field and would be more than happy to assist you in this important financial decision.


Kevin Swan


A fellow caregiver answered...

Hi, The main article, however, was helpful, thank you.

However, since the insurance salesman was able to leave his sales message, I'd like to mention that my family just spent a good 4 months plus lawyer's fees attempting to get my parents' so-called investment returns back from a well-known insurance company--and it had been sold to my parents as 'an investment.' Ultimately after some 25 years, when she actually asked for the money back, Mom got back 1/3 of what their so-called summaries indicated she would get--and then had to pay taxes on it. Even at the end, the insurance company rep was offering BAD advice in a last-ditch effort to get more money out of the deal. Unfortunately, the elder-attorney I spoke to said this is not unusual and the laws, sadly, allow some very unethical practices.

A fellow caregiver answered...

1/ Sign up for Medicaid (which you already did. 2/ Sign up for the Medicaid prescription drug program in the state in which your mother resides. 3/ Untill you are approved, make a list of all of her prescription drugs, doses, and # of times per day taken. Take that list along on all doctor appointments and inquire if the physician has samples he/she can give your mother until approved by Medicaid's prescription program. 4/ If the physician does not have samples for a particular drug, ask them if they have information on the Manufacturer of the RX and whether they have a program that helps people in need get free prescriptions. They usually have either a website you can use to apply for your mother or a 1-800 number. If you can't get any info from them look up Montel Williams Prescription drug help program o the internet. 5/ Apply for social security benefits NOW! The first time you apply most people are turned down. If you can find a legal aid who will help with the reapplication it will go more smoothly. 6/ Did your mother have any short-term disability benefits where she worked...or long term disability benefits? If so, contact the HR department where she worked and ask about those benefits. 6/Once she is approved by social security, she will get retroactive benefits dating back to when she became disabled. So if it takes 1 year for approval she will get a lump sum based on her earnings over her lifetime - she should get a yearly summary in the mail showing what her earnings were over the years and what she would be paid on a monthly basis if she were to retire or become disabled. 7/ Keep records of everything. Social security asks for EVERYTHING. And they will ask for Dr's office notes, diagnosis, etc. Keep everything you receive from social security in one place and get a date book to mark down when things that they request are due...this is very important - if they ask for something by a certain date make sure you get it to them by that date. Make copies of everything you fill out and send in as well as any correspondence they send to you. In other words copy everything - even if you think it may not be important. And as far as asking for samples from doctors...I at one time was a pharmaceutical rep. Trust me, the have sample closets full of all types of drugs that can be given to patients who need some just have to ask and let them know your mothers situation. Good luck...any questions I am listed as WeLee.

Emily m. answered...

Hi nw-woman, Thank you for your question, If you'd like you can post your question on a new Ask & Answer page, here:

Take care, Emily | Community Manager