A traumatic brain injury left Michael, a Navy veteran and former teacher, unable to work. Yet, his application for disability benefits was denied by the state Department of Health and Human Services due to missing paperwork that he could not get from his medical provider.
Michael applied – and was denied – 11 more times for similar reasons. Meanwhile, he was falling behind on his utility bills and facing eviction for overdue rent.
Michael said two things kept him from suicide: the perseverance skills he learned in the Navy to survive anti-gay harassment and the dedication of his NH Legal Assistance attorney Megan Dillon.
“I had no money to hire an advocate, and here Megan was calling me and emailing me like I was paying $10,000,” said Michael, 54. “My worst fears diminished right away because I knew she knew her business. I finally had faith that good things were going to happen.”
And they did.
With Megan’s help, Michael applied a 12th time for disability. He once again explained his tragic medical history that includes two brain injuries, severe bipolar disorder, and anxiety. But this time, Michael had his full medical records, something he says he couldn’t have achieved on his own.
This time, he was approved. With his disability benefits, Michael has caught up on rent and utility bills and made needed repairs to his mobile home.
Michael’s psychiatrist at the VA, Dr. Christine Frick, said legal aid from NH Legal Assistance made the difference. “I’m so thrilled Michael found Megan,” she said. “She’s like a miracle. In today’s world, sometimes you get lucky. We couldn’t have asked for more.