Help With Household And Living Expenses

Most of the time, people with cancer are able to continue working and their style of living continues as it was before the illness. Occasionally, however, people lose their jobs or are unable to return to work due to advancing disease. Sometimes people lose their jobs for reasons unrelated to their cancer and must temporarily depend on financial assistance until they find a new job. In any of these situations, you may be eligible for financial help.

You may be reluctant to ask for financial help, viewing it as "charity" or something reserved only for the destitute. You did not choose to get cancer. Unfortunately, because cancer can be a long-term illness, sometimes a family's resources may become gradually exhausted. Your tax dollars have contributed to financial-aid programs. These programs are there for you now if you should need them.

Sometimes, if a person with cancer becomes temporarily or permanently disabled, other family members who are not employed may need to take a job. This situation can cause guilt and resentment even in the most loving of families. Talking together as a family can help; sometimes a professional counselor will be necessary. (See COUNSELING) Family stress will inevitably make coping with cancer more difficult. Get help for you or your family if you can't seem to resolve your differences on your own.


  1. Advice from a financial counselor or social worker about what assistance is available.

  2. Cash grant and/or food stamps, if you have limited income and assets.

  3. Disability benefits, if you have been or will be disabled for six months or longer. These benefits are available from employers who offer long-term disability plans or from the U.S. Social Security Administration.


  1. Ask your social worker at your hospital to help you.

  2. Call the County Board of Assistance, Social Security Administration, or a community agency recommended by your hospital social worker. The social worker can then help you determine if you meet the eligibility requirements.


  • If you are having difficulty working because of the effects of your illness, you may be eligible for vocational retraining. (See EMPLOYMENT REHABILITATION)

  • If you think you have been discriminated against either in your present job or in finding a new job, there are grievance procedures available to you. (See EMPLOYMENT REHABILITATION for details about your legal rights.)

  • Job retraining or reentry programs are available for people who return to work after staying home to raise a family. Ask your hospital social worker for information about these programs.

  • Some people are temporarily unable to keep up with routine utility expenses and mortgages. If you think you are headed toward that kind of problem, don't wait until a crisis develops to do something about it. Approach your creditors before they have to contact you. Most utility companies have payment plans that can be arranged during periods of financial crisis. Banks often are willing to reduce mortgage payments temporarily or until you are able to get on your feet again. Ignoring a problem won't make it go away. Take action yourself before it becomes overwhelming. Your hospital social worker can often help by contacting utility companies or banks if you are unsure of how to proceed.