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Fresno, CA Attorney Blog

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New York Man Almost Loses Home Due to Delayed Disability Benefits

What can happen when Social Security Disability Insurance payments aren't processed promptly?

People usually assume that, if they are unfortunate enough to become disabled as a result of illness or injury, and are no longer able to work, they will be able to fall back on Social Security Disability Insurance, a cushion they have been paying into for all their working years. Nonetheless, as with other bureaucratic government agencies, the Social Security Disability system doesn't always work.

Six years ago, a man in Port Washington, New York, the breadwinner of his family, suffered a severe heart attack. Mitch Cohen, a successful electrical engineer working at the One World Trade Center building until his cardiac event, recovered, but remained quite debilitated. His doctor told him he would only be able to work part-time.

Unfortunately, his boss did not accommodate and fired him as soon as he requested shorter hours. He assumed his family would have to cut back, but that they would be able to live on his Social Security Disability benefits. For reasons he never understood, his original application was denied. He had to appeal the decision. Eventually, five years later, he had a hearing with a favorable outcome, and this January began receiving his monthly benefits.

Tragically, in this particular case, even though the benefit checks finally began arriving monthly, the $60,000 Social Security owed him for the years they had paid him nothing seemed to be "lost." The backload of debt was finally becoming unendurable for this family; their house was about to be foreclosed. Though Mitch called Social Security repeatedly, he didn't receive the compensation he was entitled to and the foreclosure was going ahead.

For a man who was supposed to be limiting his stress, the tension was unbearable. With mounting bills and tens of thousands of dollars of debt, Mitch was confronted with a situation in which he was about to lose the house he and his wife had owned for 21 years and raised two daughters in. Mitch's daughter, Dani, reports that she was terrified during this period that the extreme pressure her father was under would cause him to have another heart attack.

By Christmas time of 2015, Mitch was promised the large check for back benefits was on the way, but a couple of weeks ago he was informed that his house was be put up for sale on May 1st. All seemed lost. Someone in the family had the idea of calling "7 on Your Side," a television news service that intervenes to solve unjust cases. The publicity helped get Mitch the check he thought he would never receive. He has now received his back disability benefits in a lump sum. The relief was so enormous it made him cry.

Now he is able to pay off his debts and reclaim his house from possible foreclosure.

Adding irony to the misery the Cohen family has gone through, the Social Security Administration sent them a message via "7 on My Side": "We certainly regret any inconvenience this problem may have caused."

Social Security Disability Insurance can be a lifesaver, but, as Mitch Cohen's story illustrates, it is not always as easy to come by as it should be. If you are planning to apply for disability benefits or have run into difficulties with your claim, you should not hesitate to consult with a law firm whose attorneys are experts in the field of Social Security Disability.


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