Financial Management & Planning
Managing money is a necessary skill for everyone—but it's especially important if a chronic disorder has become a fact of your life. You will need regular doctor visits and medications. It's likely that you will have to pay at least part of the cost associated with your disorder. There are several steps you can take to manage your money, just as there are steps you can take to manage your epilepsy. Most of the information below is meant for adults living with epilepsy. However, where appropriate, there is information for parents who have a child with a seizure disorder.
This material was created through a partnership with the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Employment & Finance
Many financial issues are related to work, and ordinary job decisions are more complex for people who have epilepsy themselves or who have children with epilepsy.
You may want to change jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with epilepsy. Or, you may have to change jobs because of your seizure disorder. Regardless of the reasons, there are some issues to keep in mind if you decide to look for a new job.
States vary widely in their policies on granting driver's licenses to people with epilepsy. Check for the laws in your state.
Depending on where you live, you may not be allowed to drive for a while following your diagnosis. Consider the transportation issue when you think about changing jobs. Before accepting a job offer, ask yourself the following questions:
- How would I get to work if I cannot drive for a few months?
- Is public transportation a reasonable option for getting to work?
- Is car pooling an option?
- Does the company operate a commuter van or similar vehicle?
- Does the company have a policy for arranging for transportation if I'm asked to work late and miss my bus/train/carpool etc.?
Try to limit your job search to places where there are transportation options other than driving yourself.
One of your most important job benefits is a health care plan. If you are changing jobs, you may want to limit your job search only to those employers who offer a good health care plan.
Most employers provide an overview of the benefits they offer during the interview. However, to fully evaluate those benefits you'll need to read the benefits booklet employee handbook, or guide. When offered a job, ask to review the information before giving an answer.
When reviewing the health care portion of the benefits booklet, pay particular attention to the following:
- Waiting period. How long do you have to wait before you are covered under the health care plan?
- Preexisting condition exclusion period. If you go without health coverage for 63 days or more, any medical condition you had before joining a new plan may not be covered. Avoid a pre-existing condition exclusion period by making sure you always have health coverage.
- Health care plan features and costs. Make certain you will be satisfied with doctors and hospitals offered under the new health care plan.
In addition to a good health care plan, another helpful benefit to keep in mind when changing jobs is disability insurance.
Disability insurance helps replace part of your income if you become sick or are hurt and unable to work. Employer-sponsored plans may exclude benefits for disabilities caused by a preexisting condition for a set period of time. That time period usually is not longer than one year.
Short-Term Disability Insurance. This type of insurance pays you benefits sooner and for a shorter period of time than long-term disability insurance. Short-term disability usually is available only through an employer. Typically, you qualify for short-term disability benefits within a few days or weeks of becoming disabled. The benefits can stop after a few months or they may continue for two years.
Long-Term Disability Insurance. In general, long-term disability insurance starts paying benefits after you have been disabled for one to six months. Three months is a common waiting period. However, benefits often are paid for a longer period of time--usually ranging from five years to the age of 65.
Benefits vary, but long-term policies provided by employers pay about 60 to 70 percent of your income if you are disabled and can't work.
When you change jobs, you may be tempted to cash out your employer-provided retirement plan. Don't do it! Not only will you pay income taxes on the money, but if you're younger than age 59½ you'll also pay a hefty penalty. Don't shortchange your future; leave the money in a retirement plan.
Managing resources is important for every family. Special considerations come into play for individuals and families dealing with a chronic disorder like epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation and other organizations are resources for financial planning considerations.
The best time to handle the "big issues" such as life insurance and estate planning is when you are feeling fine. We recommend that you make it a matter of routine to revisit your life insurance and estate planning needs every so often.