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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


In order to maximize your finances to help pay ongoing medical expenses while retaining your lifestyle, you need to know where you are financially today.

To do that, you will need to pull together the following information. Each of the subjects are discussed in the other sections of this article.

If you haven't done it recently, this is a good time to search for missing money. To learn how, click here.

Once you have the information together, it will be simple to plug in the information to the various financial tools included on our site, which are described in Financial Planning.

NOTE: Requesting this information is standard financial planning. Requesting the necessary information provides no clue about your health condition. You do not have to give a reason why you want t.he information.


  • If you don't have a Will - this is a good time to get one. If you do, check it to be sure it is still up to date.
  • Check to see that your important papers and documents are stored appropriately.To learn how, click here.

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Employment Benefits

Check the following benefits which can provide an addition to your net worth.

Insurance Plans

Your employment benefits will be described in a document generally titled something like "Summary Plan Description." This document summarizes your Health, Life and Disability Insurance plans as well as any Retirement Plan.

If you don't have this summary, ask your employer and/or union for a copy. You are entitled to this information from your employer under federal law as well as various state laws.

If you have a retirement plan, ask how much your interest is worth on the day you ask. If you haven't received reports lately that tell you about the finances of the plan, this would be a good time to do that as well.  

Short Term Disability Benefits

Find out if you are entitled to any short-term disability benefits which are mandated in some states. Your state Labor or Insurance Department are good sources of information about the terms of the benefit including what it covers, how much it pays and for how long.

Other Benefits

If you are not familiar with your employer's policies about vacation and sick leave, this is a good time to ask "just in case."

"Just In Case"

It may be that you will need time off or other accommodations because of your health condition. Asking about other benefits may be a good time to learn about your employer's policies, and whether your employer is friendly to people with your health condition. Whether an employer is friendly can impact whether you want to disclose your health condition at work. There is time later to learn about laws that protect you in this area (such as the Americans With Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act).

This is also a good time to look for an advisor  at work in case you need one later.

Information About Your Other Insurance Coverage

Assemble copies, or at least summaries, of all your other personal insurance policies including:

If you cannot locate a policy, you can obtain a copy from your insurance broker or directly from the insurance company either through the company's toll free number or its web site.

Social Security Information

In order to find out how much disability, retirement and survivor benefits you are entitled to under the federal Social Security system, you can:

  • Request the information online at: offsite link
  • Call the Social Security Administration at 800.772.1213
  • Visit your local Social Security office to request the form known as "Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement" (form SSA-7004).

Once you have mail the form, it generally takes three to four weeks before you receive the information.


  • When you receive the record, check it carefully. According to a study by the General Accounting Office, earnings records are incorrect for one in 10 people. 
  • Even a minor error can complicate collection of benefits. It can take a long time, and a lot of work on your part, to correct the record. Do it now while you're feeling up to it . You won't want unnecessary delays when you are ready to apply for the benefits.
    • See if the numbers are approximately what you recollect. 
    • Look for blanks where you think numbers should be. 
  • Social Security automatically mails a statement every year. Check it to be sure it is accurate.

Information About The Financial Aspects Of Your Health

Your physical health rather than your age, marital status or dependents becomes an important part of your planning foundation. Two facts are important to learn: life expectancy on a statistical basis and anticipated costs related to your health condition.

Keep in mind that your longevity is the number of years you would live if you were a statistic instead of the unique person you are. By definition, statistics only tell what happens to a large group of people at a similar point with a similar condition. If you mistakenly focus on it as a reality, according to the doctors who study the mind/body connection, it may become a self fulfilling prophecy. If research into this area is a problem for you, ask a family member or friend to do it for you. To learn more about life expectancy, click here.

The second bit of information you will need is the "average" cost for treating a condition like yours as well as an average time line for when money is spent. For example, with cancer, the cost curve is generally like a barbell: usually costs are heavy just after diagnosis, then somewhat low until the end of life, when they tend to increase again. With HIV/AIDS, there is a high annual expense for drugs which may be followed by heavy medical and hospital expenses toward the end of life.  Alzheimer's is characterized by a lot of expense for custodial care.  Diabetes has a wedge-shaped pattern: the direct medical expenses keep increasing until the end stage.

Your health care provider should be able to give you an idea of determine your statistical life expectancy and possibly the average cost of treatment information. If not, contact your national disease specific nonprofit organization.

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Life Expectancy

Your Credit Status

Credit is an important source of cash when you need it, whether for medical bills, travel or other expenses. If you don't have credit accounts now because of a prior impaired credit history, skip this section and refer to How To Get Credit for some advice on how to get credit.

Whenever you apply for credit or use your credit accounts, creditors forward information about you to credit bureaus. Because lenders make the decision to extend credit based on the information in the bureaus, and because errors are common, you will want to make sure that this information is correct.

You can get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus for a low cost or possibly for free. Review each report carefully. In a 1991 survey, Consumer Reports found that of the 161 credit reports it examined, 48% contained errors. 19% of the reports contained errors serious enough to affect employment, credit or insurance! To learn how to get your credit report, click here.

You have the right to correct any information in your file that is not accurate and current.

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Credit Reports

Your Current Financial Information

It will also be helpful to pull together the following information:

  • Statements for all your bank accounts for the last 12 months.*
  • Canceled checks for the last 12 months.*
  • Credit card statements for the last 12 months.*
  • Investment statements which include all your stocks and bonds for the last 12 months.*
  • Description of other income producing items.
  • A list of your debts and other obligations.
  • Tax returns for the last three years.
  • Expectations of future income or loss that are out of the ordinary for you.
  • Any other information concerning your finances you may have on hand.

*Don't worry if one or a few statements are missing at the moment. This information is just used to obtain your general financial picture. If your spending patterns don't fluctuate greatly from month to month, you can reduce your data gathering to one, six month period or to every other or even every third month for the past year. Be sure to include once a year items like a major vacation or annual and semi-annual bills.

NOTE: If you haven't before, this is a good time to search for missing money. To learn how, click here.

Information At MIB (formerly The Medical Information Bureau)

It's important to learn what MIB says about you - and correct it if it is wrong.

The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) is a non-profit association which was created by and for insurance companies to protect against fraud by sharing information among member companies. Despite your health condition, you can still apply for various insurance coverages such as Health Insurance and Life Insurance. If you do, the insurance company will request that MIB provide it with any information it has concerning you. To learn more about the MIB, click here.

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