At 25 years old, Caitlin had been through more than most people go through in their lifetime. She had been in a catastrophic car accident which claimed the lives of her fiancé and two of her four children. Following the accident, Caitlin suffered a traumatic brain injury, partial paralysis of her right arm, burns and a nerve injury in her legs which made her dependent on a walker. As if that was not enough, Caitlin was facing eviction from her home.
Since the accident, which occurred only a few months earlier, Caitlin had been unable to pay rent. During the eviction hearing, the judge presiding over the case was moved by Caitlin’s plight. The judge ordered a continuance on the case and called LCD to say that she was sending the woman directly to our office.
Despite the judge’s continuance, Caitlin was not able to reach an agreement with her landlord. She was nearly $4,000 behind in rent and had no income. Despite facing homelessness, Caitlin no longer wanted to live in the house anyway. It held too many memories of the family she had lost.
LCD staff attorney Niki Ludt, who had taken on the case, learned that Caitlin’s sister had just applied for Caitlin’s Supplemental Security Income. She immediately went into action and offered to assist in the process in order to expedite the decision. Niki called the District Manager of the Social Security field office. She made the case for Dire Need expedited processing based on the severity of Caitlin’s injuries and her urgent financial need.
With Niki’s intervention, Caitlin’s case was flagged for an expedited decision and was immediately transferred to the State disability agency which is charged with deciding claims. Niki was able to plead her client’s case to the adjudicator at the disability office that same day. Even though most claims require five months to process, Caitlin received a Presumptive Disability decision with payments of her SSI monthly benefits beginning just three weeks later. She is also now living with family.