I am a single mother to an 8-year-old boy. I recently got Covid and was unable to work for a few weeks which put me behind in my rent. I just caught up but now I am facing a medically necessary surgery that will require more time off and medical bills. I barely make ends meet and am concerned about how I am going to manage medical bills on top of the typical living expenses. I do get a little child support from my son’s father but even with that, I struggle financially. Do you have any advice that might help me figure out how to juggle all of this?
A struggling mom
Dear struggling mom,
I applaud you for sharing your concerns because there are many people in the same situation that do not reach out for help. They are either embarrassed to ask or just don’t know where to turn. The good news is, there are resources that can assist you. Many social service agencies have special funds to help individuals who are affected by Covid. These agencies can help with rent, mortgage, and utilities. Ashley or Toni, social workers at Jewish Family Service, are happy to talk through your options. Regarding medical bills, most hospitals have financial assistance programs to which you can apply, and your medical bills could be reduced by as much as 100%. The hospitals use a formula based on the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Each hospital has its own procedures for approving individuals but all of them start with an application. If you need assistance locating an application, JFS social workers can help. Another thing to consider is comparing the cost of a prescription drug card to using your insurance. There may be other resources you might want to consider for offsetting your out-of-pocket expenses such as supplemental food programs. Second Harvest has food banks in most zip codes, local religious institutions often have food pantries and even JFS has a kosher, supplemental food program that you may qualify for. You might be surprised at how helpful supplemental food can be on your budget! You can also dial 211 to get connected with a call center that can refer you to a variety of resources including basic needs, employment, mental health, and transportation resources.
Finances are tough right now for a lot of people. It might be a good time to take a hard look at your expenses to see what you can cut back on and develop a budget. JFS has a Financial Assistance program for basic needs including housing, utilities, and food. One of the things we do is help individuals look at ways they can cut their expenses. We commonly see individuals overpaying for cell phone service, cable, and internet. Another set of eyes is always helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Ashley or Toni at JFS. They love to meet new people and are ready to help in any way they can. Hang in there as the parenting years can be quite expensive. You are off to a good start by reaching out for advice. I wish you well with your upcoming surgery. Let me know if you need a little “Jewish penicillin,” and I would be happy to share a bowl of homemade Matzo ball soup.