Saturday, September 18, 2010

Frightened By Recent Decisions and Circumstances, Parts 1 & 2

Part 1 - The Days Before

Since the start of this blog, I haven't divulged much about the what, why and how of the situation regarding the possible loss of my home.  It was just plain ole superstition and anxiety that has kept me quiet. Circumstances changed on Thursday and the the clock has started ticking again. I truly believed our chances were good.....but now..... fear kept me awake most of the night.

When I bought my condominium a few years ago, I was healthy -- financially and physically.  I did my homework, hired a reputable mortgage broker and real estate agent, spent several weeks reviewing properties and got pre-approved for a mortgage loan at a set 6½%. I utilized a city program to help with first-time buyers closing costs, reviewed my financial situation with an adviser, put away four months of funds for emergencies and bought a condominium well within my budget.  In other words, I had all my ducks in a row. 

Except for one thing - Total and permanent disability.  I was still in my forties, in good health and of the belief that I would work at least until age 65.  Like most other Americans working for small businesses, my employers didn't offer short term or long term disability insurance.  Buying that type of insurance was so cost prohibitive that I had talked myself into believing it was an unnecessary expense for someone so young.

I was wrong.

Part 2 - The Hits Begin

I became permanently disabled three and half years ago. It took 18 months to get through the Social Security Disability program - forms filled out, records retrieved, files reviewed, independent medical exams, etc. -- all take time.  Even after approval, there is another 5 months before the first check arrives.  Additionally, it's another 24 months before you are eligible for Medicare.  As a result, my savings and retirement monies are gone. With absolutely no money coming in for over two years, my retirement and savings accounts were wiped out faster than I could have imagined.  

During a time when the U.S. economy tanked, living expenses spiraled out of reach.  We cut back on food, took light bulbs out of lamps and shut down the heater as often as we could. Physician copayments and medications in the range of $200 - $400 a month caused my checking account to tap into in overdraft account that was only meant for emergencies.  Unprepared, I became a virtual medical bankruptcy much faster than I believed it could happen. 

With some creative juggling, things settled down for awhile. With my SSDI income and my son's paycheck, we weren't living as before but we were making it. 

                                        [ To be continued...]