As a maritime worker, you understand the dangers of your job better than anyone. The hazards are everywhere—severe weather, slippery surfaces, heavy equipment, rush jobs, lack of manpower, being overworked—most of which you don’t have control over. It becomes difficult to prevent accidents and even more difficult recovering from one. If your recovery is taking longer than expected, your financial stability could be in trouble.
After a workplace injury, you may be at a loss with how to pay your bills. At The Young Firm, we’ve researched some Louisiana and Mississippi agencies that may be able to help you. We’ve compiled them in this article so that you can start applying for help right away. We’ve helped countless injured maritime workers get through this difficult time in their lives, and we can help you and your family too. We encourage you to reach out for support. The Young Firm is here for you when you need us.
Most of the resources we’ve found target specific areas you might need help handling, but often you just need extra cash to use as you see fit. FITAP, available in Louisiana, gives eligible recipients a monthly cash stipend. To qualify, you must meet income guidelines, have a child under the age of 19 and be a Louisiana resident.
This chart shows how much assistance a family receives based on family size.
|No. of People||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10|
|FITAP Grant Amt||$122||$188||$240||$284||$327||$366||$402||$441||$477||$512|
TANF is the Mississippi equivalent of FITAP. Both programs are state branches of the federal welfare program, and the guidelines are the same. If you live in Mississippi, use the Mississippi link to apply.
If you are concerned that you may fall behind on your rent or mortgage, contact your mortgage company or landlord and ask for a temporary deferment or permission to pay slightly late. Depending upon your mortgage company, you may be able to skip one or two loan payments and have those payments added to the back end of your loan.
If you need help paying your rent, you may apply for a voucher. If you are approved, a voucher will help cover a portion of your rent.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides housing vouchers to qualified applicants. You will need to provide proof that you meet the income criteria, but the vouchers can be used to lower your rent payments. Apply at the websites above.
If you live in James Parish, Louisiana and your income is low, this organization can give you emergency rent or mortgage assistance.
If you are concerned about not being able to pay your car payment, contact your lender directly, and ask for a temporary deferment. Make sure to tell them that you have been injured and are currently unable to work. Similar to your mortgage, the payments may be rolled into the back end of your loans. If you are leasing your car, you may be eligible to turn in your car early or apply to have a third party buy out your lease.
Several agencies offer support if you need help paying your utility bills. Each of these can help you keep the lights, heat, and water on so that you can recover in the comfort of your home.
Bill Payment Assistance Agencies (Published by Entergy)
Entergy works with various agencies throughout the state that help low-income families pay their energy bills.
Search for agencies in your city via Entergy’s website above. If your city has organizations that help with utility bills, contact them directly to apply.
ASSIST helps Acadia Parish residents who are struggling to pay rent, mortgage, and/or utilities. To qualify, applicants must live in Acadia Parish and meet all eligibility requirements.
If you live in Louisiana and have a utility account, use this directory to search for your city. You will need to provide income information to see if you qualify, but if you do, you can receive money to help with your utility bills.
Both homeowner and renter households are eligible to receive LIHEAP assistance. For a list of LIHEAP agencies, click here.
If you live in Mississippi, visit the above website and apply for money to help you pay your utilities. You can apply online at the website using this link.
You might need to delay paying your utility bill while you get assistance. Use the link for either Louisiana or Mississippi and contact Entergy directly to request a payment extension. Entergy grants extensions on a case-by-case basis.
If you are in a bind and need food, the quickest way to get help is to visit a food pantry. Foodpantries.org has compiled lists of food pantries for both Louisiana and Mississippi. Use the search-by-city function to locate a food pantry near you. For longer-term help, you have two main options.
SNAP Food Assistance
SNAP is a federal program that provides those in need with money to buy food. If you qualify, you will receive an electronic debit card with money loaded on it. You can use the card to buy nutritious foods. Depending upon the state in which you live, use one of the above links to apply for SNAP.
WIC Food Assistance
WIC provides nutritional support for women and families with young children (under age 5). If you qualify, you will receive a free package of food, tips about eating healthy and (if relevant) breastfeeding support. To apply, you need to visit the WIC office nearest you. Both of the above links will take you to a directory of WIC offices for your state. Locate the office nearest you, and call to make an appointment.
This program provides meals and snacks for your kids during the summer months when school is out. Use the above link to search by your state or zip code. Contact the provider directly to apply.
When it comes to paying your credit card bills, you may be able to negotiate with your creditor to reduce your balances. Contact your credit card company directly to see if this option is available to you. Consolidating your debt may help you lower your interest rates and reduce your monthly payments. Another option to consider is a balance transfer. Transferring a balance to a 0% APR card can save you money spent on high-interest payments. Finally, keep in mind that if you qualify for other forms of help, you might be able to shunt some money toward your credit card debt.
When you are injured or ill as a result of your maritime work, your injury-related medical expenses can quickly skyrocket. You may also still have regular medical expenses that need to be paid. The below options can help you get the healthcare you need.
If you meet the income guidelines, Medicaid will cover the bulk of your medical expenses. Medicaid covers doctor and hospital visits as well as help with prescriptions. The links above can help you apply for Medicaid in either Louisiana or Mississippi.
Keep in mind that if you are 65 years or older that you can apply for Medicare (use the link above). Regardless of your income, you can receive healthcare benefits through Medicare if you meet the age requirements.
Even if you don’t have Medicaid or Medicare, you can use the above list to find free or reduced-fee clinics near you. Search by zip-code and contact the clinic directly.
Being insured is the single best way to keep your healthcare costs down. If you are making too much money to qualify for Medicaid and you are too young to receive benefits through Medicare, you may still qualify for a discount through the marketplace. The discount comes off of your monthly premium, and the site provides several coverage options.
Most healthcare plans do not cover dental care, but Free Dental Care has created a list of free and sliding scale dental clinics. These clinics offer basic dental care such as cleaning and fillings as well as more advanced services like crowns and oral surgery. Every clinic has different criteria for acceptance; use the website to search for a clinic near you.
The above website describes and links to several prescription discount programs. Some programs are government-sponsored. Others are nonprofits. The eligibility requirements are different for each program, but all of the programs are meant to help lower your out-of-pocket expenses for the medicines you need.
When you get injured, you might be making a lot less money than you used to. Careful financial planning can help you use the money that you do have wisely. You don’t have to plan alone. The resources below can help. we also found several online budgeting tools, several of which are free.
This nonprofit offers a free one-hour financial consultation. Together, you and a financial counselor will review your current financial situation and outline a plan of action.
Good Financial Cents created a list of free online budgeting tools. The focus of each tool is slightly different. For instance, Moneytrackin’ does just what its name implies — it helps you see where your money is being spent, whereas Savvymoney helps you focus on paying down your debt.
(Note: We aren’t promoting one tool over another, just showing giving you some options).
Being hurt on the job or getting sick can take a toll on your physical and mental health. You have experienced a really difficult major life event; depression, grief, and anxiety are common among people who have been injured at work. You are trying to get well, but you may also need some emotional support.
However, a mental health professional can also help you manage the changes in your life. If you have Medicaid, Medicare, or other health insurance, you may already have coverage for mental health benefits. If you don’t currently have coverage, many counselors will charge based on a sliding scale so you can better afford the services you need.
Family & Community Support
We encourage you to reach out to your community: your family and friends are invaluable sources of help during this difficult time.
You can also get psychological support by connecting with others who have been injured. The National Association of Injured and Disabled Workers (NAIDW) is a nonprofit that provides free resources to injured workers in the U.S. Resources include an online support group, a blog, and some financial help. Being injured can isolate you, so knowing that you are not alone can encourage you and help you work through some of the struggles you may be facing.
Other Support Groups
Unfortunately, if you are a mariner or any maritime worker that spends a significant amount of time on the water, you cannot collect normal workers’ compensation. This makes it harder for you to financially support yourself when you’re out of work. Likewise, you can’t always rely on your company to pay you fair maintenance and cure wages.
You may find that despite your best efforts, you’re still having a hard time getting by while you are injured. If that’s the case, filing a Jones Act injury claim might be your best bet.
Jones Act Claims
Under the Jones Act, an injured mariner can file a claim and receive money for
Maintenance & Cure
According to general maritime law, you may be entitled to maintenance and cure if you suffered an injury “in service of the vessel.” Maintenance benefits help you pay for your regular living expenses. Cure provides for your medical bills that are related to your injury.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, protects workers on docks or on the harbor. If you were injured as a longshoreman, harbor worker, or ship repairer/builder, this act could apply to you. If you file a suit under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, you could receive money for lost wages and your medical expenses.
Call us today if you are a maritime worker in need of legal assistance: 504-680-4100.