Suffering can come as illness. It can also come as an inability to pay rent or purchase food. In today’s environment, the two are almost indistinguishable. Costs associated with illness and medical treatment are a notoriously high financial strain. That strain is then compounded by domestic and global shut downs. COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has hospitalized numerous people and prevented even more from being able to earn a living safely. Here are a few steps to take for those concerned with the effects of potential job loss or quarantine:
- Gather important documents: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security strongly records every person create and maintain secure storage of personal financial, medical, and other important records. During a time of potential crisis, knowing where those documents are located can be crucial to getting help when help may become scarce. These documents will also be important for any bankruptcy or healthcare related legal matter that may arise.
- Prioritize your expenses: Create a list of all costs that are necessary for you and your family to live on a monthly basis. Then establish what must be paid versus what can wait for a period of time without major consequences. Most non-essential expenses can be discharged or negotiated at a later date.
- Review company policy on FMLA and sick leave: Employees should check the number of paid sick days their company provides and if they can take alternative leave. Some employers are modifying their policies in light of the Coronavirus outbreak. If paid leave is not an option, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, but job protected leave for certain reasons. Leave can be granted for “to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition, “or “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job.” You should also inquire about your employer’s remote work policy, to better protect yourself while maintaining your ability to earn income.
- Familiarize yourself with your health insurance coverage: Knowing what is or is not covered by your health insurance policy is imperative in case of unexpected medical expenses. There are also prescription discount cards or providers that may be useful to those with high cost medication. There are many options available, and these cards can help even the insured to save substantially on medications. Keep records of all medical expenses during this time, as they can be discharged in a bankruptcy or settled at a later date.
However, even the most prepared person may find themselves under water at the end of a crisis. This is when calling an attorney to assist with providing clarity amidst your circumstances may be beneficial. If you find yourself in this position, we want to help you come up for air. Contact us to discuss bankruptcy and debt relief options as the next step in financial recovery.
Post authored by Rachel E. Lamey