Meet Tony S.
Meet Tony S.
Tony was gainfully employed in a job he loved and living the dream before “all of this happened.” On his way home from work he was rear-ended by another vehicle that was going approximately 70 mph.
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Living the Dream Before “All of This Happened”1
Imagine you’re working in your dream job, things are going well for you and your family. You’re healthy and physically fit. Life is good.
And then one day, one moment, through no fault of your own, your world implodes. A car accident. A diagnosis. All outside your control.
Such was the case for Tony, who by simply routinely driving home from work, was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and thrust into a terrible situation. A situation that left him with a debilitating medical condition and little or no means of generating or receiving income.
Life spiraled downhill quickly.
Here is his story. It’s an all too familiar case of one moment, one day changing the course of someone’s life.
“Something Said ‘Check Your Six”’
Tony was gainfully employed in a job he loved and living the dream before “all of this happened.” On his way home from work he was rear-ended by another vehicle that was going approximately 70 mph. He recounted the incident:
“I was on the I-77 when I got rear-ended at 70 mph, and I was in stop and go traffic. We were just stopped and something said ‘check your six!’ So I look behind me and I see this guy not looking where he was going, so I tried to get out of the way, but he caught up and he hit me hard. My rear windshield came out in one piece. That’s how hard he hit me.”
The severe impact resulted in multiple bodily injuries, which included a severe concussion and injuries to the cervical spine. The injuries have left him with headaches so intense that he cries at times because his pain is so severe. The pain wakes him up at night and he often can’t go back to sleep. He vomits three to four times per week. And he has photosensitivity so severe he won’t go outside on a sunny day, even to his mailbox. His pain is so intense that he has minimal appetite, and when he does have an appetite, he is often unable to keep food down.
“For a year and a half I couldn’t keep food down on a regular basis. I went down from 155 lbs. to 123, and I’m 6’2!” he said.
Before the accident, Tony suggested he was very fit – all muscle, “155 was my fighting weight – all muscle. I had pecs, I had a six pack, nice biceps. That all went away to 123 lbs.”
Tony was essentially wasting away and extremely weak from lack of proper nutrition, yet could not eat due to a constant state of nausea.
Clearly Disabled, Twice Denied
Despite these circumstances his Social Security Disability case was denied. Twice! In his testimony at hearing, Tony noted that he lost everything as a result of an accident that was not his fault.
Things were indeed very different before the accident.
Tony enjoyed his job – and anything physical. He worked as a high-tech technician, where he actually looked forward to getting up in the mornings to go to work and working 10 hours a day. Before that, he was a motorcycle and auto mechanic, which he says was a physically demanding job. He enjoyed physical fitness and was into muscle building – he even enjoyed muscle cars, and is the proud owner of a 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner he had been restoring to its original ‘curious yellow’ color – a special color made for that model and year only.
“I was in a Mopar magazine …three times,” he recalled. (Mopar is short for motor parts, and mopar magazines are for high-performance muscle car enthusiasts.) “Mopar or no car – that’s all we wanted to drive,” he kidded.
Frankly, Tony used to love driving. “I drove 250 miles a week,” he said.
Not anymore. This muscle car (and motorcycle) enthusiast has been so traumatized by the car wreck, and so affected by his current photosensitivity, he only drives “to the store and back.”
He also used to enjoy working outside on his one-acre property, tending to his yard, shrubbery, and foliage. Yet due to his photosensitivity, that enjoyment has been stolen from him.
What does he do with his time now that he is no longer able to drive, go outside for long periods of time, and must deal with the constant headaches which interrupt sleeping and eating?
“I’m a couch potato,” he said half-jokingly.
“They’re Going to Take Care of You, Man”
When Rick Fleming and the Social Security Disability team learned that Tony – clearly disabled – had been denied twice, they were relentless. Attorney Fleming was eventually able to persuade the Social Security Disability administration to find Tony disabled and award him benefits.*
Tony received back-due disability benefits and became immediately eligible for Medicare. These benefits were earned over a long and productive working life that was cut short by no fault of his own.
During the long and arduous process, Tony was more than pleased with the consistent and open line of communication with Attorney Fleming and his team, “Some of my lawyers I’ve had with other firms, I’ll call them and call them and call them, and they never get back to me,” he acknowledged.
With Attorney Fleming, Tony felt like he was part of the team saying, “I felt like, hey I matter! They let me know what was going on, and the correspondence also, that was helpful.”
What would Tony say to someone in his shoes going through a similar situation?
“They’re going to take care of you, man. They’re going to do a really good job.”
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