Every seven seconds, a workplace injury occurs. That’s almost 5 million workers in the American workforce that sustain workplace injuries each year, or according to the most recent estimates in the Survey of Occupational Injuries & Illnesses, 2.8 workers per 100 workers.
In addition to the unfortunate number of fatal workplace injuries, another 2.5 million workers are permanently injured. In most cases, this turns out to be a career-ending injury, leaving the worker and their families to contemplate their financial future in the face of stunted career income.
For companies, it equates to over $1 billion in medical and remedial compensation costs. For the workers, it often means racking up credit card debt, taking on medical debt, and desperately seeking answers on how to survive financially after a career-ending injury.
Revisit Your Budget
If you have been injured on the job or otherwise, there is a high chance that your income will stop or reduce. This means your incomings will reduce, and possibly, your expenses may increase thanks to medical bills or extra costs such as repairing your car post-accident. This is the time to revisit and redraft your household budget using your current incomings and financial reality.
If there are places you can cut expenses, do so now. Swap takeout menus for healthy, takeout inspired dinners. Revisit your subscription bills, and assess which subscription you can pause or cancel. Approximately 70 percent of American households have at least one subscription, but the average American pays for 3.4 subscription services.
The cost of each one averages $8.53 per month or $29.02 per person. Also, if you do not have a household budget, it is highly recommended that you draw one up now. To get help with creating your new household budget, use online resources, how-to guides, and budgeting templates to get started. As you go along, feel free to tweak it to your own specific needs and household dynamics.
Check If You Are Entitled To Compensation
If your injury has impacted your earning ability and future career prospects, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and personal/emotional pain. The best way to ascertain whether you have a compensation case is to speak to an attorney that specializes in your injury. If you were injured while at work, your employer may have worker compensation insurance.
Most worker compensation attorneys offer free consultation and can give useful advice on the basis for personal injury cases and the steps in filing one, including filing an accident report and obtaining a doctor’s report. To get a better insight into the legal process, see more at hlgny.com. Similarly, a personal injury lawyer should be able to lay out your legal options and estimated timelines in the initial consultation.
Explore Alternative Income Streams
Another important financial move for you to consider is seeking alternative forms of income. This may include launching a new career or exploring remote jobs you can do from home while you recover. While it may not completely cover your bills, it can provide a valuable income whilst you figure out your next career move.
Keep in mind that legal cases for compensation and injury settlement can take some time, so it helps to have another source of income in the meantime. This will help you in avoiding the downward debt spiral and ensuing consequences.
Research Potential Financial Aid And Grants Available To You
There are also several federal and non-profit initiatives available to Americans who have been permanently injured or are newly disabled. This can provide a useful source of financial relief – at least temporarily. For medical bills, there is the federally funded Medicaid.
If you need financial assistance for the cost of housing, you may be eligible for homeownership vouchers and housing grants. Each state also has its regulations on worker’s compensation, which provides financial relief to workers injured on the job. You may also be able to receive unemployment or disability benefits from the U.S. government while you reassess your career options.
Reprioritize Debt Repayments And Keep The Minimum Payments
Finally, revisit your debt obligations. With a reduced income and hazy future of returning to work, you should focus on the most urgent or high costing debt. If you can, pay down these debts so that you can free up more of your monthly income to pay essential bills like your mortgage, food or electricity. For the other lower-ranking debts, stick to paying the minimum amount payable to avoid it negatively affecting your credit score. This is a pre-emptive move. Keeping your credit scores in good shape helps you get better approval and interest rates if you need to apply for a loan or additional financing later on.
A final tip: build an emergency fund. While many think neglecting savings during this time is the way to go, having a safety nest like an emergency fund becomes even more important. Your injury may be long term or complicated. Additionally, it may take some time before you find employment again. Build your savings, even if it is by a small amount each month.
It is natural to worry about your finances after a career-ending injury. Added to the emotional and physical toll of being injured, it can easily be overwhelming. However, surviving after a career-ending injury is possible, and so is financial freedom. Thanks to these steps and more, you may not have to worry about finances as much.