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Des Moines Couple Will Not Make It Without SSA Disability Benefits


Posted on Mar 07, 2012

The Des Moines Register recently reported the sad story of a local couple that faces not only amputations and blindness, but also homelessness, unless they are finally approved for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits.

Lowell Hoeppner just had his second leg amputation this month as a result of diabetes. His wife, Michelle, lost her eyesight last spring after two strokes. They live on a $170 monthly food stamp allowance, Michelle’s part-time telemarketing pay and Lowell’s Social Security payments.

The couple has tapped out many local and state organizations and do not know how they will make it now that they have been asked to leave Deer Ridge II Apartments because of failure to pay the rent. 

“We’re trying to make it on our own, to just survive, and not cheat the system,” Michelle said, “But it’s hard when no one will really help.” It will take about $1,400 a month for the couple to pay their existing obligations. And that is money they simply do not have and are not likely to get, since Lowell Hoeppner is facing a nine-month recovery in assisted living, which will eat up his meager Social Security benefit and leave his wife with nowhere to live.

And what would save them? Simple - a positive resolution to their Social Security disability claim, which has joined the logjam of SSA disability cases. Michelle is legally blind, but her disability hearing is not scheduled for six more months.

“We’ve been trying to survive until then,” she said. “We aren’t begging and we don’t want pity. We also don’t want to jump ahead of anyone who is worse than we are.”

But just who that is, at this point, would be hard to say.

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John L. Keefe
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