One woman’s persistency earned her not only the Social Security benefits she had waited years for, but the intervention of the President of the United States.
Lois Dare is a cancer survivor who struggles with diabetes and heart problems. Several times a day, Dare has to be hooked to an oxygen tank to compensate for the damage to her lung, leaving her undoubtedly unable to stay employed.
Dare applied for Social Security disability, and like many other applicants, was denied, not once, but twice over the course of a year. Finally she consulted with an attorney who specialized in Social Security Disability, who told her that it would be another 18 months before her case would be heard at the appeals court level.
With no income and medical bills mounting over $10,000, Lois Dare was desperate for help. When she found out that President Obama would be paying a visit to a nearby town, she headed there several days in advance to get her chance to appeal for the President’s help.
After a lengthy weeding out process which required an extensive background search, a clear criminal record, and her spending two nights in her vehicle away from home, Dare got her chance. Front and center to the President, she asked Obama what she was supposed to do if the Social Security Administration (SSA) refused her benefits, and she could not work to pay her medical bills.
President Obama answered that she was entitled to benefits that she had paid in to during her working years, and after the talk, spoke with her personally and even hugged her. Most importantly, he had staff take down her information. Dare received a call the next day from the Governor Mark Dayton telling her that her benefits would start the beginning of September.
Lois Dare’s story is one of hope in the face of obstacles, and the sincerity of a President who reached out to her in a personal way. However, there are many people just like her who face the same hardships and will not get a chance to express their plight to the United States President. The SSA’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is extremely bogged down at the appeals level. Some cases may wait up to two years to even be heard.
Further complicating the problem are judges who are mass-approving cases. This may sound like a good thing, but it only means that more people are getting approved for SSDI benefits that do not deserve them.
The SSA continues to work to improve and streamline the application process so that more people who deserve benefits can receive them faster. Officials in the Administration in several states are personally working to expedite cases that have experienced the longest waiting period. The national average wait for an appeal has gone down significantly in the last few years.
Even with all these improvements, it will take time for the system’s problems to be resolved, and cooperation on all parts. Meanwhile, those who know they deserve benefits should be persistent and explore every possible avenue for receiving the help they need, not excluding a personal appeal to the President.