July 30, 2018
Ashley applied for LAWV’s services when she was 20 years old because she wanted help getting social security benefits from the state. She was diagnosed with a glycogen disorder at three years old, which caused similar symptoms to diabetes; she had good days and bad days. When she was 18, she got pregnant and decided that, for the health of her baby, she needed to move out of her mother’s home—her mother was a drug addict. Because Ashley’s health waivered, she moved in with her grandmother, who was also raising her kid brother, Lucas.
Once Ashley’s son was born, she was having trouble keeping up. Her grandmother and Lucas helped care for the active, growing baby, but Ashley couldn’t work. She did some research and reached out to LAWV for benefits because she worried she was stretching her grandmother’s fixed income too far.
Ashley was referred by her primary care physician to a cardiologist, so her LAWV paralegal set her first visit after her cardiology appointment. When they first met, her paralegal noticed she was pale and weak—but she didn’t realize just how critical Ashley’s condition was. The cardiologist told Ashley she was suffering from congestive heart failure, and only 20-30% of her heart was working.
After completing the initial round of benefits paperwork, Ashley’s LAWV paralegal reached out to her but got no response. Weeks went by, and her paralegal thought she may have to close out the case, but then she received some news. A few months after their first visit, Ashley had a follow-up cardiology exam that revealed only 5% of her heart was working. She was immediately transported to Pittsburgh for open-heart surgery where she received a heart pump and was added to a potential transplant list.
As soon as she was discharged from the hospital, the court scheduled a benefits hearing for Ashley. Worried she was too weak to attend, her LAWV paralegal contacted the court about getting her a compassionate allowance: benefits for applicants with life-threatening health problems.
Approximately six months after her initial application process started, Ashley started to receive social security disability benefits. Ashley is now able to financially provide for her daughter without relying on her relatives. She has also planned for the future; a LAWV attorney helped plan her estate for her young daughter without any additional expenses.