Disabled mired in backlog for aid

Disabled mired in backlog for aid

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N.C. joining federal effort to speed benefits to needy


Ronald McKoy, homeless and HIV positive, applied for Social Security disability payments in October 2004 because he said he was too sick to work.

About a year later, social workers say, the 50-year-old McKoy barely weighed 100 pounds and went to a local hospital vomiting blood.

Yet, even when he died in February as a resident of the Uptown Men’s Shelter, he was still awaiting a judge’s ruling on whether he qualified for disability benefits.

"He was clearly disabled," said Lynn Bishop, McKoy’s attorney. "I’m confident he would have won."

Bishop said the monthly payments — $947 for the average recipient — could have helped McKoy find a home and get food and medicine. McKoy had worked as a day laborer. Every American worker pays Social Security taxes, which fund the program.

Delays such as McKoy’s have prompted efforts to fight the nation’s ballooning backlog of disability cases. (more…)

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.