Streamlining the Financial Aid Process

At The Pink Fund, we know GETTING HELP, at least from us, requires filling out some paperwork, including some documents to verify your circumstances.  While this can indeed be overwhelming when you are sick and in treatment, the reality is, we have a fiduciary responsibility to ascertain that our donor dollars are being used according to our qualifications guidelines.

Free lance writer and  Pink Fund Blogger Amy Rauch Neilson, offers up a few tips to make this task a little bit easier.

Staying on Top of the Paperwork

There is financial help out there for patients who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer. And so far, I’ve found the application requirements to be quite reasonable. (You won’t have to, for example, wait for a blue moon to occur in the month of March.)

I recently was blessed to receive a grant from the HealthWell Foundation that will help cover the costs of my portion of my monthly health care premium (which we pay out of pocket) during my illness, as well as a grant from the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund, which is designed to help people like me who make their living as free-lance writers.

That said, it’s a daunting task to fill out and submit the application forms once you’ve located sources of assistance that are a good match for you and your situation. Here are some tips that may help you to streamline the process:

  • Keep your applications as organized as possible from the start. Create a separate file folder for each application you’re working on, where you can keep your documents and notes organized as you’re putting each application together.
  • Remember that many documents can be used in more than one application. The hardest part is those first few applications. Requirements often include copies of your previous state and federal income taxes, going back a year or more. Ditto for letters from your doctors that confirm your diagnosis. As you are photocopying those documents for one application, be sure to make some extra copies to set aside for other applications as you continue to apply for assistance. This will save you time and energy down the road.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve found that the people at the various organizations I’ve contacted are knowledgeable and ready to help whenever I have any questions regarding their application process. More than one has gone above and beyond the call of duty by helping me to identify other possible sources of assistance.

    Don’t forget to ask your family and friends for help if you need it. They can gather documents and make phone calls. You might also consider assigning the management of certain applications to certain friends or family members.

Finally, if you haven’t yet applied for financial assistance either because you’re feeling too proud (been there) or because you’re overwhelmed (understandably) with your treatment and appointments, let me encourage you to do so. It takes time to apply and to receive an answer. It’s better to have the resources available to you when you realize you need them than to wait until you’re painted into a financial corner. And, in the long run, you may actually recover more quickly if you can eliminate some of the financial stresses that often accompany a breast cancer diagnosis and concentrate on the real job at hand — getting better.

Copyright 2011 Amy Rauch Neilson

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