Financial Services

A wide range of support services are available to help survivors who have specific needs, both during and after cancer fighting treatment. Support services may include help with air and ground transportation for medical care, emotional support, help with the process of returning to work or financial assistance for child care and other needs. Knowing about the types of support services that are available and where to find them may help you during your cancer experience.

Transportation and Other Support Services: Detailed Information

This information is meant to be a general introduction to this topic. The purpose is to provide a starting point for you to become more informed about important matters that may be affecting your life as a survivor and to provide ideas about steps you can take to learn more. This information is not intended nor should it be interpreted as providing professional medical, legal and financial advice. You should consult a trained professional for more information.

A wide range of support services are available to help cancer survivors with specific needs both during and after treatment. Support services may include help with air and ground transportation for medical care, emotional support, help with the process of returning to work or financial assistance for child care and other needs. Knowing about support services may help you get through a challenging time when additional expenses create a financial and emotional burden.

The following information discusses some of the most common types of support services that are available and how to find them in your area. Support services are offered by a variety of programs including nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups and government agencies.

Finding Support Services

Specific support service programs in your area can generally be found in a number of ways including:

  • Contacting your area cancer organization or hospital and speaking with a patient services representative.
  • Doing a search on the Internet using key words and the name of your community. For example, search for “food banks, Austin, TX.”
  • Checking the listings in the government or business sections of your local telephone directory.
  • Talking with a helping professional such as a social worker or a representative from the Department of Health and Human Services in your area.
  • Calling the United Way 2-1-1 telephone helpline (www.211.org) is available in many areas. This helpline provides free and confidential information and referral with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling resources and more.
  • Contacting government agencies such as the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov)

 

Many nonprofit organizations will help you find support service programs and apply for benefits at no charge. There is usually no need to pay for services that provide this type of referral or information.

Other good sources of information about support programs and resources may come from:

  • Family members and friends
  • Hospital social workers, case managers or other medical team members
  • Representatives from nonprofit cancer organizations

 

LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare offers assistance to all cancer survivors, including the person diagnosed, caregivers, family and friends. The program provides education, information about treatment options and new treatments in development, counseling services and assistance with financial, employment or insurance issues. To provide these services, LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare has partnered with several organizations including the Patient Advocate Foundation and EmergingMed.

The following table provides an overview of the most common types of support services that are available as well as organizations that provide them:

Support Services Sources of Assistance
Air Transportation for Medical Care National Patient Travel Center offers a helpline to provide assistance locating air transportation for patients who need specialized medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment in distant locations. The helpline provides referrals to all major medical transport providers in the network. Some air services arrange free air transportation for cancer patients and bone marrow donors going to and from cancer treatment centers. Others provide a free, charitable air ambulance for patients requiring medical care during the flight.

National Patient Travel Helpline
Phone: 1-800-296-1217
Website: www.patienttravel.org

U.S. Department of Transportation has a toll-free Disability Air Travel Hotline to provide information about the rights of people with disabilities and assists those who experience disability-related air travel service problems.

U.S. Department of Transportation Toll-Free Hotline

Phone: 1-800-778-4838
TTY: 1-800-455-9880
Website: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov

Ground Transportation Nonprofit organizations, such as the Patient Advocate Foundation. They can help you locate resources for assistance with transportation for medical care such as helping pay for gas and parking. You can contact these programs through the LIVESTRONGSurvivorCare program.

LIVESTRONGSurvivorCare
Phone: 1-866-467-7205
Website: www.LIVESTRONG.org/SurvivorCare

The American Cancer Society also provides various types of assistance with ground transportation for medical care. Contact them to find out if services are available in your area.

American Cancer Society
Phone: 1-800-227-2345
TTY: 1-866-228-4327
Website: www.cancer.org

Community transportation service programs vary in different locales. Services range from bus passes and discounts through the mass transit system to taxi vouchers or other types of transport programs. Check with the various transportation services in your area to find out what is available.

Faith-based organizations, such as churches or temples,often provide services including transportation assistance. Contact the administrative offices of faith-based organizations to find out what services are offered in your area.

Volunteer programs operated by nonprofit organizations may provide automobile transportation to patients and their families. For example, some Meals on Wheels programs provide assistance with transportation for medical and dental appointments in addition to their nutritional programs. Check with the program in your area or with the national program for local contact information.

Meals On Wheels Association ofAmerica
Phone: 1-703-548-5558
Website: www.mowaa.org

Medicaid may help with expenses for gas, bus fare or a vanpool program for travel for medical care. Contact your local Medicaid office or the national Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Phone: 1-800-633-4227
TTY: 1-877-486-2048
Website: www.cms.hhs.gov/contactCMS

Temporary Lodging During Medical Treatment National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses offers information and a directory of organizations that provide lodging for families of those receiving medical care away from home. Contact them for more specific information.

National Association of Hospital Houses, Inc. Helpline
Phone: 1-800-542-9730
Website: www.nahhh.org

Hospitals or medical centers may have standing arrangements with motels and hotels that are located near the hospital. Each temporary lodging program will have its own rules and criteria to qualify for services. Check directly with members of the medical team, such as a social worker or oncology nurse, for information and suggestions related to lodging assistance during treatment.

Nonprofit organizations may provide assistance with temporary lodging. For example, the American Cancer Society has a program that provides lodging to families during cancer treatment. In addition, other nonprofit programs may be located close to medical centers to provide low-cost or free housing to patients and their immediate family members.

American Cancer Society
Phone: 1-800-227-2345
TTY: 1-866-228-4327
Website: www.cancer.org

Ronald McDonald House Charities programshelp many families who travel far from home to get treatment for their seriously ill or injured children. There are 288 local Chapters located in 52 countries and regions. The Ronald McDonald Houses offer families a way to stay together in another city while a child is undergoing treatment or even getting basic medical and dental care in an underserved community.

Ronald McDonald House Charities
Phone: 1-630-623-7048
Website: www.rmhc.org

Counseling and Emotional Support Nonprofit organizations like LIVESTRONG offer counseling assistance and educational programs that help patients and caregivers cope with issues related to living with cancer. You can contact  LIVESTRONG Navigation Services.

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Phone: 1.855.220.7777
Website: LIVESTRONG.org/Get-Help

Hospitals or medical center programs provide a wide range of emotional and day-to-day support through social workers and faith-based clergy. Hospital and medical center chaplains can assist you regardless of your personal or faith-based beliefs. Chaplains can be contacted through your hospital or medical center.

Caregiver Assistance State or county Departments of Health and Human Services should be able to tell you what your county and state have to offer in terms of caregiver assistance programs. Contact your local agency for specific information.

Hospital and medical center social workers or patient representatives may be able to direct you to programs that work with caregivers in your area. Contact your hospital or medical center for assistance.

Nonprofit organizations, such as cancer organizations and faith-based groups, may be able to refer you to programs that provide caregiver assistance in your community. Contact LIVESTRONG Navigation Services for assistance.

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Phone: 1.855.220.7777
Website: LIVESTRONG.org/Get-Help

Child Care Financial Assistance Hospitals and medical centers may have programsto provide assistance with child care during medical care of a family member. Contact the social worker or patient representative of the facility.

Government programs may help pay for child care through a state or local agency. Money may be available through the child care assistance office in your state. Contact your state or county Department of Health and Human Services for more information.

Nonprofit community organizations, such as child care resources and referral agencies may be able to provide information about programs that are available in your area. In addition,

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Phone: 1.855.220.7777
Website: LIVESTRONG.org/Get-Help

Child care tax credits may help you lower your taxes or increase the amount of your tax refund. Check with the Internal Revenue Service and your state tax department for information about Federal and State child care tax credits.

Internal Revenue Service
Phone: 1-800-829-1040
Website: www.irs.gov

Insurance Assistance Federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care benefit programs are administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The CMS website provides specific information about these benefit programs.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Phone: 1-800-633-4227
TTY: 1-877-486-2048
Website: www.cms.hhs.gov/contacts

Contact your local Health Department about Medicaid benefits as each state sets its own guidelines regarding Medicaid services and eligibility for benefits.

Nonprofit programs, such as the Patient Advocate Foundation, provide a variety of free and confidential assistance, including help with health insurance needs and concerns. You can contact the Patient Advocate Foundation through the LIVESTRONG Navigation Services.

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Phone: 1.855.220.7777
Website: LIVESTRONG.org/Get-Help

Legal Assistance Nonprofit organizations may provide legal assistance. For example, Cancer Legal Resource Center provides free and confidential information and resources on cancer-related legal issues to people with cancer, their families, friends, employers and others coping with cancer. Contact them for information about services.

Cancer Legal Resource Center
Phone: 1-866-843-2572
Website: www.lls.edu/academics/candp

Community legal service programs, such as the Legal Aid Society in your area, may provide free legal advice, counseling and representation to people who meet low-income requirements. The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a government program that provides contact information for legal aid providers on a state-by-state basis. You can then contact the legal aid program in your area for specific information.

Legal Services Corporation
Phone: 1-202-295-1500
Website: www.lsc.gov

Food and Nutrition State or county Departments of Health and Human Services may be able to assist with nutritional programs, such as food stamps and specific programs for women and children. Check with your local Health and Human Services office for more information.

Nonprofit food banks are sometimes operated by faith-based groups or other nonprofit organizations.

Meals on Wheels programs provide home-delivered meals for income eligible adults and children. These programs are available in most areas of the country, and there may be frozen meal delivery for people who live in remote rural areas. Some programs also offer other home-related assistance services, such as grocery shopping. Check with the program in your area or with the national program for local contact information.

Meals On Wheels Association of America
Phone: 1-703-548-5558
Website: www.mowaa.org

Financial Assistance to Meet Basic Needs Nonprofit organizations maybe able to help with financial assistance to meet basic needs. For example, LIVESTRONG Navigation Services serve as a referral source to link you to programs that may provide financial assistance for people affected by cancer.

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Phone: 1.855.220.7777
Website: LIVESTRONG.org/Get-Help

Faith-based organizations mayprovide services to meet the basic daily needs of people who cannot afford to do so. Services may include help to obtain food and shelter as well as clothing and financial assistance to pay for transportation and other necessities. In addition, some programs offer help with financial planning and job placement. Contact faith-based organizations in your area to find out if such services are available.

County and state programs exist to provide financial support to help people with low incomes or certain disabilities meet basic needs. For example, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides assistance and work opportunities to families in need. Contact the Department of Health and Human Services in your area for more information.

Go online (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/states/tanf-num.htm) to find your state’s TANF provider or contact the DHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154 (voice) or 1-800-447-6404 (TTY).

Federal programs that provide financial assistance to meet basic needs include Social Security retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Read about the differences in these programs online or contact your local Social Security office or the national Social Security Administration (SSA).

U.S. Social Security Administration
Phone: 1-800-772-1213
TTY: 1-800-325-0778
Website: www.ssa.gov

Labor union programs may provide financial assistance, information and referrals to union members. Some programs operate jointly with a nonprofit organization, such as the United Way. If you belong to a labor union, contact your union representative about assistance that might be available.

Emergency Housing Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a federal agency that sponsors a variety of state, city and urban county programs that provide emergency housing as well as programs that assist with renting, buying and other housing matters. Contact HUD for information and to find programs in your state.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Phone: 1-202-708-1112
TTY: 1-202-708-1455
Website: www.hud.gov

Elder Services Area Agency on Aging programs exist nationwide to serve older individuals with an economic need for services. These state and local programs provide a wide range of services, information and referrals for benefits. They also help to connect people with state and local agencies and community-based organizations that serve the elderly. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging or the national program to find a local program.

Eldercare Locator program
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Phone: 1-800-677-1116
Website: www.eldercare.gov

Nonprofit organizations, such as AARP, provide information that may be helpful to people 50 years of age or older, including facts about long-term care and aging.

AARP
Phone: 1-800-687-2277
Website: www.aarp.org

Faith-based organizations often provide volunteer services to assist older individuals. Check with your organization to see if they provide services that you need.

Senior discounts areoffered by many businesses for a variety of services, ranging from retail discounts to reduced prices for entertainment or eating out. Talk with business representatives in your area to find out if they provide special services or rates for seniors.

Utility Assistance Utility companies often have funds to assist individuals and families with low or fixed-incomes when they are having trouble paying their electric, natural gas or other energy bills. Homeowners, renters and subsidized housing tenants may be eligible. Assistance can include reinstating service that has been shut off for non-payment, financial aid for fuel payments and repair of leaking pipes and broken furnaces. Contact your utility company to find out about services and assistance they offer.

Government programs may provide assistance paying for heating or cooling expenses for those who qualify for services. Your state or county Department of Health and Human Services should be able to provide information about programs in your area.

National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) NEAR is a free, national referral service for people who want information on where to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other low-income energy assistance resources. NEAR provides referrals to state and local LIHEAP administering offices as well other programs that provide energy assistance such as utility low-income programs and charitable emergency assistance funds (fuel funds). You can get referral information for state programs by contacting NEAR.

National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR)
Phone: 1-866-674-6327
Website: http://liheap.ncat.org/referral.htm

Faith-based organizations may also provide direct services including emergency financial assistance for utilities. Contact your faith-based organization if you need this type of help.

Telephone Assistance Telephone financial assistance programs exist in some areas to help those who have low incomes obtain affordable telephone service. Contact your telephone company to find out if there are programs like this in your area.

State or county Departments of Health and Human Services may be able to arrange for temporary financial assistance to pay for basic telephone service charges in situations where there are health care needs. Contact your local agency to find out if this type of help is available.

Tax Preparation

Assistance

Nonprofit organizations, such as AARP, operate free volunteer tax preparation and assistance programs. Generally, the programs serve low and middle-income taxpayers. Contact AARP for information about programs in your area.

AARP
Phone: 1-888-687-2277
Website: www.aarp.org

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is afreeprogram offered through the Internal Revenue Service. VITAoffers tax help through trained volunteers to people with low and moderate incomes who cannot prepare their own tax returns. Contact the national VITA program to obtain information about services that are available in your area.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Phone: 1-800-829-1040
Website: www.irs.gov/individuals

Home Maintenance Assistance Nonprofit organizations, such as Community Action Programs, may provide assistance with home maintenance, weatherization and repair for people who have low incomes. Contact the Community Action Program in your area to see if you qualify for assistance.

Meals on Wheels programs may provide assistance with minor home safety maintenance and repairs. You can contact the national association to find programs in your area.

Meals On Wheels Association of America
Phone: 1-703-548-5558
Website: www.mowaa.org

Faith-based organizations may have volunteers who are willing to assist people with minor home maintenance tasks. Contact your faith-based organization if you need this type of help.

Support Services for Day-to-Day Needs Nonprofit and volunteer programs, including those operated by faith-based organizations,frequently offer a variety of support service programs for people who need them. These may include assistance with lawn work, pet care or light maintenance and repair for your home. Contact LIVESTRONG Navigation Services to locate resources in your community.

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Phone: 1.855.220.7777
Website: LIVESTRONG.org/Get-Help

Job Search Assistance Government-sponsored career and job search assistance programs, such as those offered by the Employment and Training Administration through the U.S. Department of Labor program, provide job training, employment and income maintenance services, primarily through state and local Workforce Development programs. Contact the national program for assistance finding services in your area.

U.S. Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration
Phone: 1-877-872-5627
Website: www.doleta.gov

DisabilityInfo.gov is an online resource that provides information about government assistance programs for people with financial and other needs. Some programs help people with disabilities return to the workforce through vocational rehabilitation programs.

DisabilityInfo.gov
Website: www.disabilityinfo.gov

Nonprofit organizations often work with people who have specific health challenges. Many programs, such as the Patient Advocate Foundation, may be able to link you to programs that help those who want to return to work. Contact the Patient Advocate Foundation through the LIVESTRONG Navigation Services.

LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Phone: 1.855.220.7777
Website: LIVESTRONG.org/Get-Help

Educational institutions that you have attended in the past may offer job search services for alumni. In addition, many community colleges and vocational schools offer free career counseling and work with local employers and job training partnership programs. Contact post-secondary schools in your area to find out if these types of services are available.

Internet job search assistance existsin the form of free informational articles, job listings and resume tips. These resources are available through many organizations, such as website business sponsors, educational institutions and other nonprofit groups.

Public libraries have information and resources to help with job searches and resume preparation. In addition, you may be able to find information about prospective employers through the library resources. A librarian can help you find the information you need.

Clothing and Appearance Nonprofit organizations may sponsor clothing centers or programs that provide apparel for little or no cost. Many organizations work with professional dress programs that provide financing to pay for appropriate interview clothing for those who have a financial need. For example, Dress for Success Worldwide is a program that helps women with professional attire and services to obtain and maintain employment. Career Gear is a similar program that is available in some areas to assist men. Referrals are generally made to these types of programs through local nonprofit organizations, such as job-training programs.

Cancer organizations may offer clothing items and support services specifically designed for people with cancer-related needs, such as breast cancer recovery and sun-protective clothing. In addition, some programs focus on enhancing appearance as people undergo cancer treatment, such as the one operated by the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS may also provide free wigs, hats and turbans for women and men. They may also have information about reputable local or online retailers that specialize in adaptive clothing or prosthetics.

American Cancer Society
Phone: 1-800-227-2345
TTY: 1-866-228-4327
Website: www.cancer.org

Exercise Community centers and local parks may offer opportunities to use recreational facilities and to participate in free or low-cost group exercise programs. Contact the Parks and Recreation Department in your area.
Pet Care We All Love Our Pets (WALOP) is a national program that was created by the Meals On Wheels Association to provide pet food for low-income senior recipients of Meals On Wheels. Contact your local Meals On Wheels program if you need assistance to feed your pet. The national association can help you find the contact information for programs in your area.

Meals On Wheels Association of America
Phone: 1-703-548-5558
Website: www.mowaa.org

Researching Support Services

When you are researching the availability of support services in your area, find out:

  • Whether the support services you need are available in your geographic area
  • If the services are provided through a profit or nonprofit organization
  • Whether there will be one-time or ongoing fees for services
  • If there are eligibility requirements for participation in the support program

 

Evaluating Support Services Found On the Internet

The Internet can be a good resource for obtaining information related to support service programs. However, you may find that some websites do not clearly identify their sponsors and may be misleading about the sources of information used.

Take the following steps as you evaluate whether an online resource is reliable and up to date:

  • Consider the source. Find out who sponsors the website and whether you might be looking at information presented by an individual, organization or retailer from another country. If the source is from outside the U.S., the products or services offered do not have to meet federal requirements or standards.
  • Think about the purpose of the website. Consider why the website exists. The purpose might be to educate, inform, sell a product or service, promote an idea or raise money. Each of these types of sites has a different motive, intention and way of presenting information.
  • Find out where the information on the website came from. Good sources include sites sponsored by the government (.gov), those run by medical facilities or educational institutions (.edu), or sites sponsored by nonprofit groups intended to educate, provide service (.org), or share scientific writings (such as medical research). Commercial websites (.com) are often set up to sell a product or service and may have very different reasons for existing.
  • Review website contact information. Contact information should be available for the sponsor of the website, including address, telephone numbers and names of people or departments within the organization.

 

Reporting Concerns about Online Services

Take the following actions if you have serious concerns or bad experiences with any support services obtained online:

  • If an online resource makes false claims about their services and/or products, notify the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).
  • If you lose money by using the Internet to make purchases, contact your credit card company, the office of your state attorney general and the Better Business Bureau online (www.bbb.org).

 

There are many support services available for those who need them. A member of your health care team, such as a nurse or hospital social worker, may be able to refer you to a government-funded service or a community assistance program. You may also want to ask family, friends or a representative from a cancer organization for assistance.

Deciding to Work with a Support Program

If you decide to work with a support program, find out when services will start and whether significant delays are common before you will begin receiving the benefits. Ask questions of the support program staff so that you are able to fully understand the services that they provide. Be certain to find out whether there will be a cost to you.

Keep in mind that there may be a need to find a way to meet your needs during any waiting period. For example, if you are waiting for the benefits of a child care assistance program to start, you may need to ask a family member or friend to help you for a short time until the benefits go into effect.

This document was produced in collaboration with:

David S. Landay, Esq., author of Be Prepared: The Complete Financial, Legal and Practical Guide for Living with Cancer, HIV and Other Life-Challenging Conditions.

Works Cited

“Elders & Families.” Administration on Aging. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 16 July 2009.
www.aoa.gov

Landay, David S. Be Prepared: The Complete Financial, Legal and Practical Guide to Living with Cancer, HIV and Other Life-Challenging Conditions. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

“Use Caution Buying Medical Products Online.” FDA Consumer Magazine. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 8 February 2007.

“Find Job & Career Information.” U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration. 14 January 2009.
www.doleta.gov

“Finding Help to Pay for Child Care.” Child Care and Development Fund Contact Directory. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Child Care Information Center. 5 March 2007.

“Serving Students with Disabilities at the Community College.” ERIC Digest. Education Resources Information Center. 9 March 2007.
www.ericdigests.org

“The National Financial Resource Guidebook: A State-by-State Directory.” Patient Advocate Foundation. October 2009.
www.patientadvocate.org

“ACF Services.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children & Families. October 2009.
www.acf.hhs.gov

 

Source: Livestrong