N. TX veteran struggling to get social security benefits back

A North Texas woman who served in the Air Force says what's happening to her is making it hard to survive.

Keisha Releford, 39, lost her Social Security disability benefits through, she says, no fault of her own.

While serving in the Air Force, she fell sick.

“I have mitral prolapse with regurgitation,” she said. “When my heart pumps blood, it’s supposed to go through all the chambers and pump correctly through the system, but it’s not.”

She had open heart surgery in 2007 and got medical retirement from the military.

“I didn’t want to exit the service, but I had no choice,” said Releford. “…I couldn’t continue with my heart condition and my strokes.”

Since January 2009, Releford had been receiving Social Security disability benefits. On July 17, she got a letter from Social Security saying that her benefits had been terminated.

“I learned someone was drawing benefits or is drawing benefits under my Social, and that person supposedly was terminated, but instead of terminating that person, they used my Social and terminated me,” she said. “So now I’m no longer getting benefits, and they said it was their error that they terminated the wrong person and they offered their sincere apology, but there’s nothing they can do to reverse that error. So now I have to go through the appeals process.”

FOX 4 went to Social Security attorney Loren Parker-Jackson, who does not represent Releford. 

“Normally, benefits are discontinued on the basis that the person’s condition has improved and that Social Security has the requisite medical evidence to show that they’ve improved and can actually re-enter the workforce,” said Parker-Jackson.

She says if Social Security has admitted a mistake, “I would hope that if in fact a mistake has been made that someone in the system would just be willing to correct the mistake and just restore the benefits without her having to go through that entire arduous process.”

“So I’m stuck with figuring out how I’m gonna pay for my medical equipment over there in that corner,” said Releford. “How I’m gonna pay for my mortgage, how I’m gonna take care of my minor son.” 

Releford has started the appeals process, but as attorney, Parker-Jackson says the average time for an appeal to play out is a little over a year.

She has contacted local Congressional representatives to see if she can get some help.