A family member has been fired from her job, unrelated to her medical issues. She is looking into going on disability due to her medical condition in the wake of the firing and I want to make sure she has a good understanding of her finances. Would an hourly planner be a good start so that she has a better understanding of her financial picture and financial capabilities?
Marcus, it would be worthwhile to visit with a planner. Remember that a disability is something that would prevent you from not being able to work, not that you do not want to work anymore. We have all had days where if there was an easy way out we would have taken it but, this is not what Social Security Disability benefits is designed to do. The spirit of the benefit is to help those who are truly unable to work, any work. If that describes your family member, a visit to her family physician or specialist will be in order. Being medically qualified as disabled is the first step.
I might make two recommendations here. First, I would have her seek out a Certified Financial Planner to help with the financial questions she might have.
Also, I would recommend an attorney who specializes in disability cases. Most initial claims for Social Security disability benefits are turned down... often multiple times. I've had several clients over the last 29 years who have spent much time and effort to receive the benefits they were entitled to, but were repeatedly turned down by the government. My own Dad was one of them. A specialist in disability claims will be invaluable to your relative at this time.
Best of Luck,
Marcus, I would seek out a Certified Financial Planner™ in your area. Seek referrals, from trusted friends, relatives, and co-workers. You should be able to consult with them to find one that relates to your situation best. Depending on the individual advisor and the amount of assets involved, they may have a solution, perhaps without an hourly fee.
The CFP Board has no cost Consumer Outreach Programs. Go to http://cfp.net/public-policy/consumer-outreach
My experiences with disability is that they usually turn down first requests, regardless of merit. It is my understanding that attorneys get compensated by collecting a percentage of retroactive disability claims, so they are in no particular rush to get your claim approved. Still, without an attorney advocating for you, it will be very difficult to get through all the administrative hurdles. It might take a year or two to get her approved through an attorney; it may take four or five years, or never without one.