Alexandria woman battling stage four cancer, fights to receive Social Security benefits

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 4:29 PM CDT
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COTTONPORT, La. (KALB) - Hundreds of thousands of people applying for Social Security Disability benefits are having to wait up to 10 months to hear back on the status of their application. That wait is wasting time and money for families dealing with health concerns that could ultimately be the difference between life and death.

According to a CBS report, nearly 110,000 Americans from 2008 to 2019 died while waiting for a hearing after initially being denied Social Security benefits.

Dr. Peter Lemoine, an attorney specializing in Social Security Disability law, said he fears that number will only double given the lack of manpower and efficiency in the Social Security Administration. One of his clients, Jalisa Johnson, is a 33-year-old single mother of four children battling stage four colon cancer. Lemoine said an application for disability benefits was sent out back in March, for a family in desperate need of financial and medical support. They have yet to receive an update and yet to receive thousands of dollars worth of assistance.

“If you have a life-threatening illness, that case is placed at the front of the line,” said Lemoine. “It is immediately addressed, and you should have a decision within a matter of a few months. Obviously, that is not happening. We are sitting here today, over six months later and she has not received a decision, there is simply no reason for that.

Lemoine said even if she receives a status decision soon, it will still take more time for the payments to be processed. He said tragically more clients are passing away now, more than ever before their case is ever resolved.

“You have to ask yourself, all the struggles that she has had in her life and now she has to do battle with the federal government at a time where she is least equipped to do it,” said Lemoine. “She is weak, she has no money and the system has failed her.”

Johnson was placed on hospice over a month and a half ago in her fight against cancer. While still waiting for her approval from social security, many community members have helped raise money for her and her children.

Money can be sent to help Johnson. Any amount of funds can be sent to the family’s Cashapp at $Denee1000.

Related: Nonprofit offers to pay mother’s bills while waiting to receive social security benefit

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