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How to Afford Life if You Can’t Work

Life is unpredictable. You never know what is going to happen and, unfortunately, that can be a bad thing sometimes. If you become sick or injured and are unable to work, you still have to pay your bills and make ends meet. Of course, this becomes incredibly difficult to do if you’re not earning an income.

Here is some information on what you could potentially do if you’re not able to work due to illness or injury.

Use Your Emergency Fund

Everyone should have an emergency fund. This is because you never know what life is going to throw at you. If you find yourself unable to work, this is the time to use your emergency savings.

You’ll want to make sure that you modify your budget and try to spend less so that your savings last longer and you don’t have to deplete everything you’ve saved. Take a look at your spending and see where you can make cuts. For example, consider stopping any subscriptions you may have, such as streaming services, at least temporarily. Cook food at home if you’re well enough and avoid eating out. Shop sales. Do whatever you can to make your emergency fund last.

If you don’t have an emergency fund and you’re currently earning an income, it’s a good idea to start saving as soon as possible. You never know what might happen and, while you’re earning money, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for possible problems in the future. Look at your budget and make adjustments so that you have some money to put into an emergency fund. Even if you can only save a small amount to start, it’s better than nothing.

Make sure you keep your emergency savings in an account that is more difficult to access than a standard chequing account. You don’t want to be tempted.

Government Benefits

Depending on where you live, there may be various government-sponsored benefits available to those who are unable to work due to illness or injury. These benefits may include:

  • Employment Insurance
    • Employment insurance (EI) benefits are available to those who lose their jobs or are unable to work due to no fault of their own. This means that you could be eligible for EI payments if you are sick or injured and unable to work. Consulting with the government can help you determine if this situation applies to you.
  • Social Assistance
    • You may qualify for social assistance payments if you are in financial need. Consult with your local government for more information.
  • Disability Support
    • Depending on the extent of your injury, disability support payments may be available to you. These payments are designed to help people with disabilities pay for living expenses. Again, speaking with the government can help you determine if this is right for you.

Workers’ Compensation

If you suffered an injury at work, or have experienced significant psychological or emotional distress due to a traumatic incident in the workplace, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, if your employer is registered with the plan. Note that receiving workers’ compensation payments could affect your ability to receive EI payments or other government benefits.

Private Insurance

You may be able to receive disability benefits if you have paid for private insurance or if your employer provides insurance coverage.

Keeping Your Job

If you have a short-term illness or injury, you may wish to consider using your sick leave and vacation time. This will allow you to receive your full paycheque while you recover.

Depending on your situation, you may also wish to ask your employer if you might be able to do your job (or a modified version of your job) from home for a short period of time.

Depending on the company you work for, your employment contract, and where you live, your employer may not have to hold your job for you if you cannot work. However, this will depend on the state or province in which you live, how long you have worked for your employer, the size of the company, and other factors. It is important that you consult local laws to figure out whether your employer is required to hold your job while you recover.