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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 07/10/08

I am a 66 year old retired disabled female who takes care of 44 year old disabled daughter. My electric bill has gone up over $60.00 month just this past month and I am not budgeted for that amount. Is there financial aid (temporary) available for this situation? I am a COPD sufferer and must have my nebulizer and need to be in air conditioning at all times.  I am really frightened at the heightening cost of my utility bills.

Thank you in advance.

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Name: Alison
Location: North Carolina
Date: 07/10/2008
Time: 08:12 AM


There are various organizations that assist on a temporary, usually on a one time basis. You might start with your department of social services. You may be eligible for programs that provide yearly energy relief checks or other programs that could ease your budget. They can also inform you of other agencies in your area that can help. If you go to social services, you need to ask them what paperwork you would need to bring. Generally, you need to prove your income, may need to show disability income, and often times there are programs for people with breathing issues, so you may need something showing that diagnosis. Good luck

Name: Jody
Location: Michigan
Date: 07/10/2008
Time: 08:19 AM


I understand your predicament. When we were unable to afford fuel oil for our furnace a few years ago, we turned to the Community Mental Health program in my area. They had funds set aside for such instances. So, check with similar programs in your area. You can also check with the Department of Human Services (DHS, formerly known as FIA). Depending on the program you find, you may need to have your doctor write a letter stating that you need the air conditioner for health reasons. That may help when looking for help. Hopefully this helps. Best wishes.

Name: Bette
Location: Delaware County, PA
Date: 07/10/2008
Time: 08:44 AM


Check out for programs in your state to help you with your bill. You may want to contact your energy company to see if they have any programs or have a plan to help you spread out your payments over the year. You may also qualify for an energy audit to see how much you use, how your heat may be wasted, and tips on how to correct this. You may also qualify for a home weatherization program to help you keep as energy efficient as possible, and save money doing so!

Name: Erin
Location: Wisconsin
Date: 07/10/2008
Time: 10:35 AM


I would suggest that you contact your local social services / human services department (a segment of county government in Wisconsin)for information on the various programs available to you and your daughter. You may be eligible for Energy Assistance to help cover the cost of heating and electric. There are also crisis funds available to those who are facing a disconnection of service. A statement from your doctor regarding your medical need for electricity may be helpful to have. As a disabled elder and a disabled adult, you and your daughter may both be eligible for Medicaid, Food Stamps, housing assistance, weatherization furnace replacement/repair and other financial assistance programs that will reduce your expenses in a variety of areas. If you do not already receive income through Social Security, I would contact them about applying for SSI or SSDI for yourself or your daughter. I would also suggest that you ask the social service department and/or aging unit about national and local caregiver support programs. They may be able to cover other costs related to caregiving and/or give you the support and respite you need to continue providing excellent care for your daughter and yourself. Good luck!

Location: Ohio
Date: 07/10/2008
Time: 10:55 AM


Are you eligible for Low income housing? There is some housing available for the disabled. Is your daughter receiving any medicare, medicaid.? There are usually programs through the dept of aging. there are also Churches that have outreach programs that might be able to help you with some insulating and weatherization that should cut down some of your costs. An energy Audit like suggested in one of the above answers is a good idea. Old refrigerators use a lot of Electric. So there are ways to cut costs with out you going with out. Contact your your local Senior Center, they might have the resources and info you could use. Also your Doctor can provide the documents you need to show your medical condition that you will need to show. Summer is a good time to have your furnace checked out. Community agencies often will provide this service to the disabled/ handicapped at NO or LOW Cost.

Name: Sally
Location: Illinois
Date: 07/10/2008
Time: 11:03 AM


In Illinois, our Area Agencies on Agency provide the Case Coordination Units with "gap" funding that can be used to help meet needs that cannot be met through other means, including assistance with utility assistance. You could try contacting your Department on Aging to see if there are local agencies that administer similar programs. Good luck!

Name: Donna K
Location: CA
Date: 07/10/2008
Time: 01:02 PM


Our utility company has a discount program for people who are dependent on gas/electricity related to medical conditions. You might contact your utility provider to ask about such programs. Most likely they'd send you a form for your doctor to sign which confirms your need. Don't forget to list all of the needs which require additional utility use (beyond your medical machines, i.e. extra laundry, extra use of air conditioning/heat, air purifier, etc.). /Best of wishes, DK

Name: Jim
Location: Maryland
Date: 07/11/2008
Time: 11:40 AM


When you said you were not budgeted for that did you mean your personal budget or are you on the budget plan with the electric company in your area. I am on a budget plan with PEPCO in my area and until the last payment of the budget year my payment stays the same. I have always needed A/C and also am registered as a handicapped household with the electric company. This helps the company set up its priority list when a power outage occurs. Contact the electric company first and get that all done and alert them to your situation and then contact HHS in your area for further financial assistance ideas. If all of that fails contact your senator or representative for your state and area. You should get some help then. Good luck.



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