Megan Willis has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disease that causes serious lung damage. The 22-year-old woman said she spent about six hours a day administering medications and therapy, and that this condition was frequently the cause of infections and other complications.
With this condition, Willis was eligible as a disabled adult for Social Security benefits covering living expenses. About 10 million Americans who are also disabled at work also receive an allowance, called disability insurance. More importantly, Social Security gave her access to Medicaid, which paid her annual health care costs of more than $ 100,000.
But in March, Social Security sent her a letter in which she claimed that her health status had improved since the last review of her case and that she was able to work. It was a news for Willis.
"My health has deteriorated over the last year," Willis told CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.
Despite this, her social security benefits ended and she lost Medicaid. As she lives in Florida, one of the 14 states without extended Medicaid, she had no other way of getting it. His family can not afford private insurance.
As medical bills increased, she began law school.
"I do not want to stay stagnant and you know, depressed, looking at the four walls of my room," Willis said. "I want to get in the world even if you know it's going to be difficult."
Willis also contacted Lawyer Beth Sufian, who manages the Cystic Fibrosis Hotline and who has cystic fibrosis herself. Sufian said, "The number of people with cystic fibrosis examined in the past 18 months has increased fivefold, and we believe that social security targets young people with chronic conditions in order to reduce the number of people receiving benefits."
Under the law, disability applications are reviewed periodically to see if beneficiaries are still eligible for benefits. Over the past decade, to address the backlog, comprehensive medical examinations have quadrupled and are expected to reach 900,000 this year.
"It's really a life-and-death situation for all our customers when they lose their benefits," Sufian said.
In the case of Willis, social security was finally reviewed and she was able to recover her disability in November. She was hospitalized around Thanksgiving and Medicaid came in. The bills were covered, explained her mother, Wendy.
But Willis' lawyer still has about 200 outstanding cases of people with cystic fibrosis who are being examined for the first time and people on appeal.
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