The phrase “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” generally makes people quake in fear or laugh like a lunatic. But in spite of that common reputation, I am encountering a situation that is so bizarre that even the most cynical person would be surprised.
My nephew has cancer again. At the age of fifty-two he if fighting his third battle with the disease. In his first bout, twenty years ago, he received radiation treatment. The treatment at that time was not as well controlled as it is now and as a result he began to suffer from degeneration of the bones of his lower spine and legs. Of course, this makes walking painful and difficult.
When the degeneration reached a level where he was in constant pain, he applied for disability from the Social Security administration. As is their usual procedure, they denied the claim. It seems this is nearly always the process regardless of the severity of the disability.
He applied again later and was denied again. Unfortunately, he was not aware that there is no chance of getting approved unless the claim is submitted and handled by a law firm. Finally someone told him about getting a law firm to submit it and he tried again using a lawyer.
The lawyer was aware of the procedures that the SSA forced on claimants and advised my nephew that the process would take time. As expected the SSA denied the claim but the lawyer knew this would happen and immediately submitted a request for an appeal.
It took about three months for the initial denial when he submitted his own claim and also when the lawyer submitted it. Then the expected time before the appeal be heard was at least eighteen months! According to both the law firm and the SSA office, this is normal and expected. It takes three months for a clerk somewhere to say no. Then another year and a half to get the case in front of someone.
Eventually that application was also denied. At this point, my cousin had already moved from his townhouse because he could no longer go up and down stairs and rented a first floor apartment.
The law firm resubmitted the claim again and it was denied again and went to appeal again. After another year and a half the appeal was denied and the law firm notified my cousin that they were dropping his case.
Not being a quitter, my cousin contacted his senators advising them of the situation and asking if they could help. Al Franken never bothered to answer him. Amy Klobuchar did respond and promised to help in any way she could.
This is where I got involved. My wife and I saw him often and she frequently chatted with him on the phone so we knew of his medical issues. However, he is not a complainer and we did not know about the severity of the problems until they were truly disabling. We were also unaware of the SSA claims he had filed.
With the last denial and the law firm dropping his case, he asked if we could help him. I am now working with Amy Klobuchar’s office to see if we can get through the incredible convoluted process of getting help for someone who really needs it.
This is an ongoing process and I will be posting more as things develop.