Public Benefits

Mr. Smoot, a combat veteran who had served in Vietnam, was homeless for many years and suffered from PTSD, as well as other mental and physical health issues. He visited our grantee because, even though he was considered totally disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2011, the social security administration later found that he was “not disabled,” and denied him social security disability benefits. Mr. Smoot’s subsequent appeal was quickly denied.

Our grantee filed another appeal on Mr. Smoot’s behalf and gathered and submitted voluminous medical evidence from Mr. Smoot’s treating doctors and other health care providers to the Social Security Administration. In 2015, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) reviewed the medical evidence, decided that a hearing was unnecessary in Mr. Smoot’s case, and issued an on-the-record, fully favorable decision.

However, a few months after the ALJ issued that decision, Mr. Smoot still had not received any of the back benefits he was owed and began to fall behind on his rent. Mr. Smoot tried reaching out to different people in the agency to understand the cause of the delay but was continuously rebuffed. When our grantee reached a supervisor at the Social Security Administration, he was told that an administrative error had caused the delay and that it would be fixed immediately. The following week, Mr. Smoot received a check for $31,000.