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January 19, 2013

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Nice hearing your story KA! You have done a good job of coping with your injury and making the best of your situation. I applaud you for your desire to continue working and to keep pushing forward even with this injury setback. Here is what I would recommend:

1. Even though you don’t want to live off the government, I think it would be wise to try and receive social security disability. After getting back on your feet, you may then decline to receive the benefits in the future. For now though, I think you could really use the safety net. There is no shame in using a program that you have paid into during your working career.

2. When looking at your budget, there isn't much room to cut. I would look for a cheap cell phone plan (there are still some available for $30 or less a month) and ditch the internet. Obviously it is a nice luxury, but you should be able to go to the library or get it for free at McDonald's when you really need it. I would also focus on paying off your car loan ASAP. Maybe contact the credit card company and make them aware you will pay them off, but for a while you might have to make less than minimum payments. The car payment and insurance is close to 25% of your income and that is tough to make work. After paying off the note, you should be eligible for a cheaper car insurance plan.

3. I would really focus in on your job as a certified tax preparer. Yes, I understand it is seasonal, but if you were to work diligently both on the job and in your personal studies, you could turn it into a full time income in the future. Look into becoming an Enrolled Agent. It is possible to make $40,000/year working only during tax season (or much more depending).

4. Without knowing more details on your student loans, it is hard to make a suggestion. But in your current financial state, you really can’t afford the minimum payments (hence one is deferred). Again, honesty and being upfront with the lender is always a better solution than to just quit paying and fall off the face of the earth. I would contact them to make them aware of the situation and to let them know you are doing everything you can to pay them back.

Thanks for sharing your story with us! Again, I’m very sorry to hear about your disability.

Oliver

I agree with Oliver's first point - you should collect disability as long as you need it, that is why it is there.

From what I understand, Social Security Disability is the most stringent level of disability to attain, and can take a very long time to go through the process and receive. Since you are permanently disabled though, it sounds like it would be worth at least investigating. At least talk to a "specialist" in the area. I had a somewhat similar situation with a family member and did simple Google searches for specialists in this area. It turned out they weren't eligible, but we learned a lot about what it takes in case the situation got worse.

I'm assuming you didn't have disability insurance when the accident happened? A lot of policies now have different levels, so in the circumstance of yours, can work "white collar" but not your regular occupation, you can buy policies that include those circumstances.

One other suggestion: You have a Masters in Project management. If you have any interest in working in that field, there are a fair amount of remote work positions now, I do it myself and am almost 100% work from home. United Health Care has a fair amount of remote IT PM jobs, but there are certainly others. Perhaps you could find contract or perm work in that role, and limit the impact of your mobility issues?

Maybe look into individual health care policies? You may very well be stuck until Jan 2014 when the new health care policies come out that require insurance to accept "pre-existing" conditions such as yours. Unless you get a job with benefits of course.

That's a tough situation, but it's good that you're not giving up and looking for help anywhere you can find it, like posting here.

If you're not already, you should look into income-based repayment options for your student loans. I don't think it was available when you would have finished school. When your deferment expires, it can keep you from defaulting.

I would look into health insurance options. An individual policy is expensive, but may be cheaper than 1/3 of your credit card.

Echoing other comments here, you MUST look into social security disability.

Have you considered teaching part-time at a university or community college? With your master's degree, you can teach bachelor level programs. To be honest, the pay is not that good, but it's much better than nothing, and more importantly, you can often do it online. Also you can choose only evening classes, so it doesn't interfere with a day job.

Once that car's paid off, you'll have some breathing room. I might reduce my credit card payments to accelerate paying off that car. You're robbing Peter to pay Paul, but it will increase your cash flow, and give allow to throw more money at that credit card.

An M.S. in project management is respected, but for many positions, a project management professional (PMP) certification is required. You can self study, there's no need to pay for an extensive class, especially with your degree. The test itself is pricey, but it can easily pay for itself.

Sometimes you need to not worry about retirement. It's unfortunate, but this is one of those times.

Good luck!

I met someone yesterday that teaches at a city Senior Center. She makes $50 a class. It isn't much but it might help.

First let me applaud your budgeting skills...I've seen quite a few people on this site talk about their frugality and have expenses several times yours.

Let me echo the other folks suggesting apply for SS Disability. I believe your student loan can be discharged under very similar criteria.

Consider buying an individual plan HMO. Something like Kaiser may have a lot of "total wellness" programs that you might really benefit from.

Consider utilizing public transit or disable transit services. If that works out for you then selling your car would make life easier.

Depending on the laws in your state it may be appropriate to stop making payments on your unsecured debt (private student loan, credit card, medical bills). This would be saying goodbye to credit and they may be willing to negotiate sooner given your situation.

If you cant find work but can get some technical volunteer work (probably tax related) consider that to keep your resume from going fallow. Be sure to add in your e-books once they are published and the blog.

You might be able to get cheaper insurance. Go for the state minimum on liability as your assets are minimal.

Best wishes,
Adam

I think you're doing the best you can in a rough situation and that's something to be proud of!

In terms of finding a new job - have you tried going through an agency? Do you know anyone who could recommend a reputable recruiter or headhunter? That might help open some doors. Also, if you truly feel that your physical disability is causing people to reject you right away (which is so unfair and I'm sorry that is happening) - could you try doing a skype or phone interview first? Perhaps that would allow potential employers to "fall in love" and then the handicap would not seem as much of a barrier. It's not fair you'd have to do that, but it might help. Also, I've worked with many candidates who have had to leave previous jobs becuase of a medical leave/situation, and I always encourage them to really talk up how much they are looking forward to getting back to work.

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If not, I would suggest getting one and asking every professional contact you have to write a recommendation.

Good luck!

"I would like to start my own business, I even have a unique idea, but because of my disability, I couldn't physically do it by myself, nor could I afford to pay someone to help me until things get off the ground"

Could you offer your "assistant" a percentage of profits as compensation?

I want to thank you all for the feedback, and I took many of your suggestions under consideration. I took my tax return and paid 3 payments on my car, I only have 2 more payments. I also had an opportunity come up, the man I work for is also opening an insurance office, and the gentleman who is helping him set up his office noticed my organizational abilities and asked me if when I was done doing taxes, if I would come work for him. :)

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