In a recent article, “I lost everything waiting for disability assistance. And I’m not the only one,” The Washington Post sheds light on the increasing number of people waitlisted for Social Security disability benefits.

The article describes the life of Eric Harwood, a truck driver and locksmith who developed extreme back pain from moving heavy safes. Harwood initially applied for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) while he was working reduced hours, but was denied. Once he could no longer work at all, Harwood applied for SSDI again, expecting to get a quick approval. Instead, it took a full year to receive benefits. Hartwood and his wife had to sell all of their belongings and became officially homeless. They left Nevada for Arizona, where they were able to move in with his wife’s parents.

“Every few months they sent me another pack of papers to fill out: what were my current conditions, was I working, and so forth. I would dutifully fill the packets out and send them back in, and I would hear nothing. All the while, our money dwindled away,” said Harwood about the Social Security Administration (SSA). “Meanwhile, my medical expenses piled up, costing about $500 a month: $200 per month to see a pain management doctor, and roughly $300 more for all my medications… There were times when I could not fill my prescriptions because I simply didn’t have the money,” he explains.

Finally, after 12 months of waiting, Harwood received notice that he qualified for Social Security disability benefits. “It will still be a little while before I qualify for Medicaid, but the relief of receiving the disability assistance I’m entitled to was enormous,” he concludes. “…If the agency had approved my case in a timely manner… we never would have lost everything we had built over our 21 years of marriage.”

Harwood’s story is one that many people are living today. The backlog of Americans waiting for benefits they paid into all of their lives now totals over one million applicants.

It is crucial that we protect Social Security disability and the rights of America’s most vulnerable. Despite constant and aggressive attacks from government leaders and lawmakers, the Social Security trust fund is working, and taking in more money than it pays out. We need everyone’s help to ensure that the fund remains solvent.

Help protect Social Security by contacting your representatives. Find your elected officials’ contact information here. Simply enter your zip code and click on any of their names to find their contact info.  Download this letter to email or send their offices.

To read the full Washington Post article, click here.

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