Yen optimism plummets as Japanese economy sinks
The global economy is likely to shrink for the first time since World War II, and trade will decline by the most in 80 years.
US unemployment rate to reach 9.4%.
Russia’s official unemployment hits 2.34 million.
With headlines like these everywhere you look, it’s hard to, as aptly put in “Meet the Robinsons”, keep moving forward. As the world economy continues its nose dive, more and more people are forced to file for unemployment, state medical assistance, and food benefits. In tandem with the fall, the percentage of people having trouble paying for health care is rising fast – 21% of the American population at the last report.
Today the first annual Business Roundtable Health Care Value Comparability Study, which shows the costs and performance of the U.S. health care system, was released. It found that U.S. workers and employers receive 23% less value from their health care system than Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France and 46% less value than the average of emerging competitors Brazil, India and China. This shows a serious need for medical reform in the U.S.
Dealing with a brain or spinal cord injury is hard enough, but adding hard-to-get medical assistance and a rocky job market to the mix can cause huge amounts of stress that hinders recovery, both physical and mental. While we don’t have a quick fix for our ailing economy, we do have some strategies to help you deal in this insecure time.
First, it’s important to understand what benefits you can receive from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Obama has proposed a reform that would create a public health insurance system for the 46 million Americans who are uninsured and he just passed a stimulus package that includes $19 billion for health information technology, but what does this mean for those of us who need immediate medical assistance? The ability for doctors to access our records online may save them money, and hence us money down the road, but it won’t help us pay for the medication or the surgery that we need today.
There is some hope. $87 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package is slated for Medicaid payments to the state governments, and $25 billion is going towards helping unemployed workers extend their employment-based health insurance after being laid off. An added bonus, under the Recovery Act, up to $2,400 of your unemployment benefits for 2009 will be excluded from your gross income, hence not added to your taxes. In addition, you can take advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit if you bought a home after April 8, 2008 by claiming a refundable tax credit equal to either 10% of the purchase price or $7,500, as well as claim the American opportunity tax credit (up to $2,500 per student per year) if you have a child enrolled in a post-secondary degree or certification program.
If you are retired or disabled, the Recovery Act will provide a one-time “extra” payment of $250 to those receiving Social Security benefits. To qualify, you must have been eligible for benefits during November or December of 2008 or January of 2009. Keep an eye out for it as disbursement will begin no later than June 17th.
Obama’s package allocates $3 billion for emergency funds to provide immediate temporary assistance for needy families, as well as an increase in food stamp benefits. If you are unemployed, you can plan on a weekly increase of $25 and an extension on your payments through December. Also, if you have been recently laid off and your employer had 20 or more employees, you can continue your health coverage through COBRA with 65% of it subsidized..
In addition to knowing what portion of the stimulus plan can help you, don’t forget about the systems already in place that may benefit you. For medical assistance, look up Medicare andMedicaid for your state as quite a few have recently passed bills that allocate additional funds for these services.
For information on receiving food stamps, you can start here to find out if you qualify, if so for how much, and how to contact your local office. To find more information on unemployment benefits, this site can walk you through it and help you find your local office. These days, most benefits can be filed online, saving you a great deal of hassle. If want to know if you qualify for disability assistance, here is where you can find contact information.
Also, don’t forget to check around your local community. Small organizations like local churches and schools often have assistance programs set up to help with medical expenses and the costs of living. Things may seem difficult right now, but with some time invested in looking around you, you can find ways to keep your head well above water.
Keep moving forward!
(Image from here.)