The holidays can be especially taxing for those without income. Many already struggle with providing every day food and medications for themselves or loved ones. With the holidays, comes a time, when family and friends, especially children, expect gifts that some just may not be able to afford. This is especially true for people filing claims for Social Security Disability and facing lengthy wait times on their claims.
The Social Security Administration released their Hearing Office monthly processing times at the end of the Fiscal Year for 2018. This showed that cases pending with the office in Mobile, Alabama had an averaging processing time of 626 days. This was from the time they got to the hearing office till the Claimant received a decision. The Hattiesburg, Mississippi office was averaging 580 days, and the Montgomery, Alabama office was averaging 560 days.
Helping clients during this time can be challenging because we see so many in the same situation and it limits our ability to help. I wish we could help each one, however, we do try and help with co pays for doctors' visits on occasion. I try to listen and offer an empathetic ear, but I think our biggest help is to be honest with our clients and work harder than anyone else to get them their benefits. It may not come during the holidays, but knowing that we are taking care of their case and doing all we can will hopefully relieve the stress of handling their disability claim on top of their medical problems.
There are a few resources for those looking for specific holiday help. The Salvation Army in Mobile and coastal areas help the working poor, jobless, seniors, and homeless individuals who need emergency assistance. The Salvation Army will help people of all backgrounds, religions, and cultures. They offer holiday dinners at Christmas, and seniors and the homebound may also have items brought to their homes. Other holiday aid includes gifts from the Angel Tree program and much more. Emergency financial assistance can help with utility assistance including water, electric bills and more. Rent assistance is available to families who qualify and are faced with an eviction. There are programs with pantry and clothing closets which offer meals, groceries, and gently used clothing. I also encourage people to contact their local churches as many are offering food baskets or gifts during the holidays.
For those of you who are blessed this holiday season, I encourage you to not be locked into certain ideas about people suffering financially. Many people want to look at what they do with their money or lack thereof. You hear opinions on this daily ranging from the idea that people with money are somehow morally superior to those without it or that poverty is a result of a lack of conscience, willpower, or human worth. These are hard statements for me to hear. Many times people feel that the poor are undeserving of empathy or help, and it drives policies that increase the suffering of clients like mine. I see people who have had good jobs and paid their bills, but sickness, whether physical or mental, brings them to a place of suffering. I encourage everyone during this time to be a little bit more open minded, to be a little bit kinder, and to look for those struggling and lend a helping hand however you can.
We here at Gardberg and Kemmerly wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Please call our office at 251-343-1111 for a free consultation on your VA and SSA claim. Gardberg & Kemmerly specializes in helping the injured and disabled in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana.