FM/CFS/ME RESOURCES - Financial Help


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The best time to apply for financial help is the minute you realize you can no longer continue working. Many people end up doing it the hard way. They keep putting it off, thinking if they just got a little rest they could keep going. Before they know it they've lost their jobs, businesses, homes, cars and have no money coming in. That's a very scary place to be. Click on a links below to get the financial help you need.

Catholic Social Services

They can provide immediate emergency assistance if you have received disconnect or eviction notices. They can refer you to food banks and other assistance. They have counselors that can help you.

They also have people that will fight for federal disability for you if you have been turned down the first time. They will help you fill out paperwork, and will even pay doctor fees, etc. to help you get disability. It's a wonderful organization and you don't have to be Catholic to benefit from it.

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State Social Services

Depending on your situation, and lack of income, you could be eligible for immediate food stamps and cash assistance - especially if you have exhausted all of your own resources first.

Make an initial phone call, get paperwork sent to you, and have an interview. Sometimes if you are disabled the interviews can be handled over the phone.

You'll need copies of your bank statements for the previous three months, doctor's records, birth certificate and utility bills. You will qualify if you have no income. If your bank account has less that $200, you will get immediate cash. You'll have to go in for reviews every three months.

It can seem overwhelming, but don't get discouraged. The individual benefit amount is small, probably under $200 a month plus food stamps, but it will help.

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Patient Assistance Programs (PAP's)

  • Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) (
    The Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need through the program that is right for them. Many will get their medications free or nearly free.

  • RxAssist (
    This site is sponsored by Volunteers in Health Care, a nonprofit, national resource center funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They provide assistance to programs serving the uninsured. RxAssist is a comprehensive, searchable database that allows you to search for information by company, brand name, generic name or therapeutic drug class. Detailed program information and application forms are available, as well as information on other strategies for accessing free and low-cost medications.

  • NeedyMeds (
    This site was founded by a social worker and a family physician in 1997. NeedyMeds allows you to search for information by program or drug name. It includes detailed program information, forms, news and other useful tools. NeedyMeds also offers a printed manual for purchase.

  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) (
    This site includes a directory of PAPs offered by participating PhRMA members. The directory includes links to application forms and information on program operations.

  • RxHope (
    RxHope is a privately held company that has received funding from several sources, including PhRMA. Their site includes detailed PAPs information and application forms. RxHope is unique because a small number of companies allow physicians to submit PAP applications electronically through their site.

  • The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) (
    They offer a booklet titled Handbook 4: Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs that explains how PAPs work. The booklet costs $5 for nonmembers. Visit their Web site for more information.

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This is state based health care assistance. After you have applied for State Social Services assistance, you can apply for Medicaid. If you qualify, it should cover almost all medical expenses, including prescriptions.

The benefit continues as long as you no income and until you start receiving federal disability (if your disability payments exceed the income limit for an individual).

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Social Security

This is the next step. Pretty much the same kind of application process, through your local Social Security office. The benefit is higher than State Social Services, and if you qualify for Social Security, you are automatically eligible for Medicaid. The approval process takes longer, so don't get discouraged.

Medicare and Medicaid information
(800) 772-1213

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This program pays benefits based on financial need.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This program pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

If you have worked and contributed to the Social Security fund, and you are considered disabled, you may qualify for one of these programs. The amount you receive depends on how much you worked and contributed to the fund over the years. This is not welfare! This is your money, that you put into "savings" in case of disability later on. You are entitled to it if you are truly disabled. Many people spend years in denial before they apply for SSD. The longer you wait, the harder the process is.

It is VERY important to get medical documentation from your M.D.'s, not physicians assistants or other medical personnel. If you can, find a specialist (rheumatologist) and get them to document your diagnosis and treatment. Keep records! Write everything down - when the illness started, how it affects each part of your life and daily activity, how it has disrupted your life, how difficult even the smallest tasks are, etc. If you can, get written documentation regarding the loss of work and the reasons for loss of work, including the date you had to stop working. Be as descriptive and detailed as you can be in your documentation. the more documentation you have the easier the application process is and the faster the process will be.

How To Begin
It all begins with a phone call to the Social Security Administration - 1-800-772-1213, or apply online. When you call, tell them you want to apply ask them to mail you the paperwork. Ask them to set up a time for a phone interview. (This is because you are disabled, and it is difficult for you to go in to their office.)

There will be a time limit on getting the paperwork back to them. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Get it back on time and keep copies of everything, including application forms. Get someone to help you. Tell them in great detail how bad your situation is. Let them know if you're about to be homeless, or whatever the urgency is. You can always add more to the file later. But get the application in on time!

The Process
The application papers are sent to the local office. When everything is done at that level the papers are sent to a state evaluation board. Their panel, which includes physicians, makes the decision. This decision is ultimately approved by a federal board as well.

The board might ask you to see one of their doctors or psychologists. If you decide to do that, ask them to send a driver to pick you up for the appointment. You are not able to drive yourself there. This service is available, at no cost to you.

Be honest but be very descriptive in helping them understand how bad your situation is. Let them know how difficult it is for you to ask for help. Don't be embarrassed about tears.

You may be eligible for back payments, if you can prove the date you had to stop working because of this illness. The application process usually takes a year or longer. This is one reason why you shouldn't wait around to begin.

Don't Get Discouraged
The majority of people get turned down on their first try. Don't get discouraged! Get a qualified disability attorney to help you. (For information about disability attorneys click here)

The important thing is to not give up. You can do this and you deserve the help as much as anyone! For more information choose from the list below.

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Federal Poverty Guidelines

The following chart gives you the 2008 HHS Poverty Guidelines for the Continental U.S.

People in Family Unit 100%
Add for each additional person

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Benefits Checkup

People over 55 and those on disability can find out what benefits they may be eligible for:

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Chronic Disease Fund

10880 John W. Elliott Dr.
Suite 400
Frisco, TX 75034
(877) 968-7233

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US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

This department can connect you with your local Housing and Urban Development Office, which can lead you to a local housing authority that provides rental subsidies to low-income families.

451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
(202) 708-1112

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Government Benefits

This department is your one-stop search for government benefits and loans.

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