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Resilient man seeks SSI relief after injury, eviction

For some, a reliance on Social Security disability payments or Supplementary Security Income can appear to be a form of weakness and dependency. Throughout political and economic debates, these programs are sometimes dismissed as "handouts," a giveaway from taxpayers to those who refuse to work and rise above a past injury or ailment.

So often, however, this is not the case. Now, one New York man is receiving national attention as he works to overcome unforeseen obstacles through determination, selflessness, and the help of the Social Security disability program. His story is one that many Houston residents may find inspiring.

The 26-year-old resident of Queens, New York City is currently trying to secure Supplementary Security Income payments after what has been an exceedingly difficult nine years. Mugged and assaulted in March of 2003, the man awoke from a two week coma to find himself blind. A month of hospital treatment had little effect on his health and attitude. The man, then only 17, refused to use a walking cane and repeatedly stumbled down stairs and into objects.

Determined to somehow regain his sight, the man sought the help of an herbalist. Almost immediately after treatment, his vision began to return. Now, the 26-year-old can read print and identify shapes and colors, though he still qualifies as legally blind. Things however took another unfortunate turn when the man's stepfather abandoned the family, leaving the man and his mother homeless.

Through the help of shelters and Catholic Charities, the man and his mother were able eventually find a small basement apartment and work. The man now freelances doing Spanish-language interpreting work. Still, the $240 in Social Security disability payments he receives is a crucial portion of their income. The man, in all his determination, is still struggling to get Supplementary Security Income. "There's people who invent stories to get S.S.I., there's just people who sit all day, they don't do nothing, the man bemoaned. "It's messed up, because I'm actually trying."

In spite of the opinions and rhetoric that surrounds Social Security disability and Supplementary Security Income benefits, there are many cases where the payments are legitimately needed and deserved, such as the New York man described above. In order to better secure this and other Social Security financial aid, contacting an attorney can often be the best possible course of action.

Source: New York Times, "Left Blind After a Mugging, a Son Is Still Driven to Support His Family," John Otis, Nov. 15, 2012

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