Living on no income…

So six months ago I was signed off work on medical leave, after trying to cope for several weeks previously. Little did I know then that I’d still be sick now.

So this week, I’ve experienced something that I never thought that I would and have worked hard, all my life to avoid. I actually have no known source of income.

I have exhausted my paid medical leave and Employment Insurance (Sickness benefits). I have applied for Long Term Disability Insurance through my work plan. However, as my case is complex it is taking a while for the insurers to complete the review and make a decision.

Thankfully, as I had a good idea that this was likely I stopped paying down debt a few months ago, and started just paying the minimum interest payments so that I could save for this situation. I also sold any remaining assets that I could beyond my car and home (both of which are financed).

However, despite knowing that I can cover my bills for a short while, it is a very scary place to be in. It’s especially stressful as this is happening over the Christmas holidays so offices are shut and there are delays everywhere in the process.

I’m trying hard not to worry, to use my DBT skills and just take each day at a time. However, I’m a planner by nature and it’s hard not to spend all my time working out “What if?” scenarios.

What if I’m not approved? What do I do then? What does bankruptcy look like? Or a consumer proposal? How long would it take to be approved for ODSP? How much would that be? How long would it take to sell my home, if I had to, and where else would I be able to afford to live? How long would I survive living somewhere else? (My home has been specifically set up to help my health) If I sold my car how would I get to medical appointments? Taking public transport, or even a taxi if I could afford it, would involve exposures to allergens. The questions seem endless.

Hopefully I’ll hear from the insurers soon, and their decision will be in my favour. I really can’t see how it can’t be but waiting out the process is hard. Personally, I think it’s an immense stress to place on somebody who’s already been sick as long as this. Ironically my doctors are constantly working with me to reduce the stresses in my life. Yet when it comes to income replacement this is just the way it is. You have to work through the process and wait each stage out. There has to be a better way!

Anyway – for what it’s worth please look at your own income replacement plans for such a situation as this. I was always told that my risk of dying was far higher than that of my being long term disabled so that’s where I concentrated my attention. However, as a disability advocate stated recently – the disabled is one minority group that anybody can become a member of any time. While I’ve been disabled my entire life being unable to work is a very new experience and one from which I am learning many, many lessons.

Hopefully, this particular stage of it will only last a couple more weeks at most. If not, those scenario-planning skills will be essential in the New Year. But I’m going to work really hard to not worry about that until 2017!

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