Social Security disability recipients in Los Angeles, California and nationwide, rely on government support and many still struggle to make ends meet. While some critics of welfare programs argue that the system caters to many who are not in need, there are even more stories of those who not only depend on the benefits, but are challenged by the limitations of private and public assistance.
In March of 2003, a 16-year-old boy fled his attackers after being stabbed in the chest, shoulder and stomach. The teen was attacked after refusing to hand money over to the muggers. The attack put him in a coma for 2 weeks. He also suffered severe blood loss, cardiac arrest and had 3 strokes following the attack. Lack of oxygen to his brain caused permanent damage to his occipital lobe, leaving him blind. He remembers opening his eyes and realizing that he was blind.
Though the blinded victim had struggled in accepting his condition, he also began seeking out the assistance he needed to live without sight. He received help from organizations that helped train him to cook, shop and navigate city streets.
Now, 26-years-old, the boy is still legally blind, though some of his vision has been restored. He is able to decipher shadows which helps him to distinguish shapes and colors.
In 2010, the mugging victim and his mother were faced with another tragedy when they lost their home. His stepfather met another woman and kicked them out and they were forced to enter a homeless shelter. After getting assistance from a private charity, he was able to get trained and buy work clothes. He now works as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients and clients at 2 New York Hospitals.
Together, the young man and his mother survive on $60 a month in food stamps and $240 a month in Social Security disability. He is hoping to find a full-time job, enroll in college and become a physical therapist so that he can secure an apartment for him and his mother. The two were forced from a homeless shelter because of the income he earned from freelance work.
This case is another example of the many hard-working, but struggling recepients of Social Security Disability. If you have been denied benefits or need assistance, an experienced advocate can review your case and protect your rights.
Source: The New York Times, “Left blind after a mugging, a son is still driven to support his family,” John Otis, Nov. 15, 2012