Julia Moore is a woman who fights for what she wants. After she retired in 2007, when she found herself unable to afford necessary medications, she didn’t know what to do. A former middle school teacher for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Julia found herself asking, “I worked 38 years for this?”
Julia has neurological deficits stemming from a congenital spinal column defect, and as a result, nerve impulses don’t reach various parts of her body. Julia said, “I don’t have good balance, I have muscle spasms, and I drop things. I’m in a lot of pain.” In 1993, Julia became paralyzed from the neck down. She underwent three spinal surgeries and months of rehabilitation to regain functioning. She said, “it was a long process to learn how to drive and walk again.” Currently Julia uses a scooter and a crutch to get around.
“Challenges are a part of life. Part of what we have to do as humans is learn how to meet the challenges, whatever they happen to be.”
Under her retirement medical insurance, many of her necessary medications were not covered. She applied for a number of prescription drug coverage programs but kept getting turned down because she fell between the qualifying requirements of the programs and the insurance coverage she had. Julia applied for Social Security disability benefits hopeful that she would find the answer she needed. She went through a very labor-intensive application process, which was made even harder by the manual dexterity required for filling out the forms and the disability she has. When she was turned down, she thought, “I did all this work, and they turned me down! To say I wasn’t disabled was ridiculous. I was angry.”
Julia consulted Ann Arbor CIL staff member George Ridenour, a long-time friend of hers. George encouraged her to appeal the decision and then helped her through the process. Remembering the lengthy process, she said, “it was very frustrating. They kept sending me one packet of paperwork after another, and I was insulted by some of the things they asked. They didn’t understand how it feels to have a disability.”
“George was my advocate, though,” she said. “He helped me fill out the forms and presented my case. He knew how to ask for what I needed. Most importantly, he gave me perspective on the process.” She explained that when she was frustrated by the never-ending requests for paperwork, George helped her see that the things they were asking were normal. “George told me what to expect. He knew a lot about the process because he’d done it before. It was a huge help.”
After what seemed like endless paperwork and back and forth, Julia finally got the news: She had been approved for Social Security disability benefits. “I thought, ‘after almost three years, it’s about time.’” Julia said now with the monthly social security benefits she’s able to pay for the medication she needs. “I can go out and live my life, finally. It’s making a big difference.”