As a lot of you know, our sister Jane (middle in the photo
here) has been fighting Stage IV (terminal) Rectal Cancer for almost 5 years.
Recent events have put Jane in a dire financial situation, and she needs help.
While she is getting better at asking for help, this (asking others for money)
is something she still finds difficult. She has little choice now, however, but
to accept whatever help we can give.
In a nutshell, Jane's promised and expected disability income and insurance benefits have ceased to continue. And since she is physically unable to work, she has no income. Reaching out to our community of friends, contacts, and more is the only option available to Jane at this time.
Please keep reading as it explains why we have to go this route.
Jane first went on disability (50% of her salary) in 2008, and she worked part-time as often as she could between surgeries, chemo, radiation, and treatment. Eventually, Jane had to make the difficult decision to "retire" from the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) when it became evident that trying to work was counter-productive. She made that decision only after being assured over and over again by many, many different people at UIC and SURS (State University Retirement System) that her retirement disability benefits would continue after her regular disability benefit ended on September 22, 2012. This meant she would receive the equivalent of 35% her last salary, and most importantly, would continue to receive the same insurance coverage at the same rate for as long as she lived.
WE HAVE JUST LEARNED THIS IS NOT THE CASE!
Recently, while researching information on the SURS website, she stumbled upon a small sentence in fine print stating that employees enrolled in her type of plan are not eligible for the expected retirement disability benefit. This means termination of ALL benefits as of September 22, 2012, both disability income and insurance benefits. This is after YEARS of being told the opposite. This was neither evident at the time of enrolling nor when Jane investigated her retirement disability options with her superiors! We have and will still try to fight for any recourse, however dismal the outcome may seem at this time. A person high-up in her department at UIC is as livid as Jane, as he was very involved in her process of transitioning out of UIC, and he also had been misled and misinformed by several people, some very high up, who said Jane would be getting retirement disability and insurance coverage at the same rate. He recently appealed as much as he could and was shut down basically with "sorry we gave you misinformation time and again, but you are out of luck."
So this is where Jane stands. Many life decisions were made based on that (now misleading) information. She is in active treatment, once again on chemotherapy because her tumors' rate of growth increased, and she's facing many procedures to not only help stop the growth of her cancer, but to try to correct some of the extreme effects from her previous invasive treatments. She lives in chronic pain with much-decreased quality of life. Jane needs insurance "“ and will hopefully be eligible for Medicare in March of 2013, but for now her only option is paying $918.44 every month for COBRA coverage. On top of paying nearly $1000 per month, there are additional copays for medical appointments, procedures, tests, chemotherapy, prescription drugs and deductibles to meet. Add rent and other living expenses on to that. All of this is occurring at the same time her income has gone to $ Zero (having been a State of Illinois employee precludes her from eligibility for Social Security disability assistance - nor does she qualify under Arizona's recently tightened disability/welfare programs).
The very least we need to do for Jane is raise enough money to offset these monthly COBRA premiums, until she can get enrolled (hopefully) in Medicare. If we all get together and donate whatever we comfortably can, and spread the word and the link to this site, we think we can help Jane with this financial mess. We can't do anything to reverse Jane's cancer. However, hopefully with your help we can increase the length and quality of Jane's life and lessen the pain.
So, that is some of Jane's story. Can you help, please?
Robin Sprague and Julie Jonas, Jane's sisters