Author Topic: Help me help my 56 year old dad (in major debt, low income, hospital bill)  (Read 2861 times)


  • Stubble
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  • Posts: 177
Hey guys, I hope mods don't mind I put this in a separate topic. I didn't want it to be lost in the other thread.

Anyway here's a problem my dad has I need to take responsibility for because I just can't leave him alone. he has no one else to help him but me. Yes, I know i should be looking for my own life but it will haunt me forever if I leave him be.

so here's the situation and a little background

my dad doesn't have many skills, and just works as a security patrol guard in a parking lot. he earns $10 an hour part time, meaning sometimes he doesn't reach 40 hours.

He has a lot of debt because he foolishly kept buying stupid stuff like two big tvs, a laptop, and other electronics. I would he say he owes about $5000 (maybe more) in debt. I've repeatedly told him to be wiser with his spendings and I think he's learned his lesson. He won't be buying anything anymore.

Now we live in Houston and there was a flood that took his only transportation which is a Truck. I think this was a blessing in disguise because he was paying $300+ a month for it and insurance paid for all that he owed on it. I then bought him a 95 corolla for $850 on craigslist with only 100k miles so he can get to places.

So everything was going smoothly and he was paying things off until another incident happened. He accidentally shot himself in the hand and had to go to the hospital to have surgery.

here's the big problem: he doesn't have insurance because he said he couldn't afford it.

Now the ER expenses and the medical bill was $40000 but the hospital reduced it to $22k because he has no insurance. and then another $2k for therapy which I don't think we will have him do because of the next sentence...I've helped him sign up for financial assistance and they say they will be able to probably discount the bill for about 30-95% depending on his background and financial records. This will take a month to process. It doesn't cover the therapy.

Right now he is unable to work and I'm looking into possibly call social security so they could give him short term disability. He has absolutely nothing saved up.

This is a really crappy situation and I hope you guys just ignore how stupid it is and be nice to me and my dad... i just need advice on how to go forward and to minimize the financial damage as much as possible.

Thanks everyone...


  • Walrus Stache
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Sorry about the accident and best wishes for his recovery.

Did he get W-2 wages, 1099-MISC statements, or under the table payments from his jobs?  In other words, does he have credited earnings with the Social Security folks so he will get SS payments when he is old enough?  He can check his official earnings history at if needed.  How old is he now, and how much in SS payments can he expect at his Full Retirement Age (the specific age depends on how old he is now)?


  • Walrus Stache
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Long shot (pardon the pun) but was the shooting a work related incident?

Is there any recourse to his employer (improper gun safety training etc?)


  • Pencil Stache
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  • Kermit is like a box of chocolates
Many hospitals have a way to forgive hospital bills if you show you are in need or low income.


  • Pencil Stache
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You are doing a great job in helping your dad!

With that being said, are there any job training programs in your area that your dad might be able to attend that would help prepare him for a position where he could potentially make more money?

While you both are trying to figure out a way to make him more financially sound, does he qualify for other services such as food stamps, etc.?  There's nothing wrong with using these programs temporarily.

How old is your dad? 


  • Pencil Stache
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Definitely go after that discount on the bill. Once you get it officially knocked down, make sure they send you records (letters, bills) showing the new balance. After that, you can call patient billing and tell them that your father is low income and cannot pay in full. Keep at it. Often patient billing specialists and advocates will help you by putting you on a very low payment plan, or sometimes they'll even reduce the bill further. The hospital will do everything it can to make back the money, but they also don't want to risk someone not paying completely. If that means they have to knock the monthly bill down, they will.

You also might want to try calling around and seeing if a PT in your area will give you the first therapy session pro-bono or at a very reduced fee if you pay cash. Just explain the situation to them upfront. Tell them it is for an aging, low income gentleman who cannot afford therapy. Be flexible...they may have a student intern who could see him, or a brand new PT who isn't "proven" yet in the practice. Take whatever is offered. If they say no, then ask what they could do for you if you could pay cash for one session. Often PT gives you exercises you can do very easily on your own. Most injury recoveries only need PT for the first session (to demonstrate the right exercises) and then a follow up or two to make sure the progress is good. You might be able to skip the follow up if he is doing the exercises regularly and is making noticeable improvements. If you absolutely cannot find anyone willing to see him, you might have to resort to using some basic hand injury PT exercises gleaned from medical resources on the internet. This hardly ideal, since they are not tailored to his specific injury, but I would imagine it is better than letting the hand just sit there and potentially tense up/scar/atrophy. Stuff like this  is free on youtube.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 05:25:36 AM by little_brown_dog »


  • Bristles
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Since he is now unable to work and he doesn't have insurance because he said he couldn't afford it, I would look into getting insurance.  Start with and go from there.  Most likely he will qualify or be pushed to medicare.  Once he has insurance that may help with getting a PT or other future medical issues.


  • Magnum Stache
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One PT session will probably cost 100$ full price.  I imagine you could just pay for it with cash, and tell your dad you will pay for him to go once a month IF he does the exercises at home in between.  Like little brown dog said, as long as you are upfront that money is a huge issue, I am sure they will give you a few weeks of exercises at a time.  My dad nearly chopped his finger off, and a LOT of the PT was just increasing hand strength with the repaired muscles, so he spent time every dad "playing" with playdoh, silly putty, etc to work the muscles.  You don't need weekly PT to do that at home!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Consider moving to a state that has expanded Medicaid so he can get treated?


  • Handlebar Stache
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1.  There is no such thing as short term disability from Social Security.
2.  Don't sign ANYTHING taking financial responsibility.
3.  Don't sweat the medical bills.  If your father truly has nothing, then he has no credit score either (or very low) so allowing the medical bills to go to collections could be a benefit.  As long as he pays something towards them, he will be alright.  We were paying $5 per month per bill for my brother until his estate settled.
4.  Medicare will not cover until he is 65 OR has been deemed disabled by Social Security for TWO years.
5.  See if there is a government "council on aging" in your area (or the like).  Someone who can help find out what financial assistance is available.
6.  See if he is eligible for Medicaid in your area (and don't take no for an answer).

Don't sign ANYTHING taking financial responsibility.  It is fine if you help pay your father's bills but once you agree to be responsible, YOU are financially responsible.


  • Bristles
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I think it would be helpful to make an appointment for your dad with the social worker at the hospital where he was treated. He or she will know more about the programs he might be eligible for. The social worker should also work with the hospital to reduce the bill as much as possible. As others have said. Texas has no Medicaid for single adults, and there's no such thing as short term Social Security disability. But he may qualify for food stamps and other aid, and there might even be a private program he can take advantage of. Good luck.