How am I supposed to feed my family?
by April Snow,
Snow, Carpio & Weekley
One of the hardest parts of running a law firm that helps injured workers and those with disabilities is hearing the heartbreaking stories of what our clients go through when they have no income for up to 2 years if applying for SSD or if they are only receiving a percentage of their income if they have been injured on the job.
The most common questions I get from upset clients when I speak with them as the Business Manager for the firm is "How am I supposed to feed my family" or "How am I going to pay my rent/house payment?" In fact, the only time I really have to speak with an upset client is because of money. They are desperate for it. They need it and every day is a struggle to wait for it. And even when it comes in; its not enough to take care of everything. And I'm not just talking about people who didn't have a "rainy day fund" or savings built up, I am talking about everybody from every economic walk of life!
Imagine for a moment your own household budget. You know what is due every month, what your income is and you probably have a schedule for which bills you pay out of each paycheck. Now imagine that you go to work one day and you are injured. Injured to the point where you are now thrust into the long process of filing a claim, receiving ongoing medical treatment and depending on somebody who views you as a file number to pay you .6667% of your normal salary/pay in a timely manner. And your first compensation check doesn't come on your normally scheduled payday like your paycheck would. You have to wait for the claim to be accepted, a work status to be established by the doctor and oh yeah, you have to be out of work 14 days before they consider you as having a time loss. So from day one your are behind the 8 ball financially.
I believe that there are three parts to an injury. First, the physical injury. Second the financial injury. Third, the emotional injury.
Have you ever seen a grown man cry? I have. Multiple times actually in my years here at the firm. They are the ones who take it all the hardest it seems. When a man cannot work, cannot provide for his family and cannot put food on the table, it's his worst nightmare. You can see them change from the beginning of their claim through the end. They are the ones who will call me daily too see if their checks came in, even if they know they aren't even due yet. They are the ones who are yelling one minute and then literally crying on the phone the next minute because they are trying to keep it all together.
In the time it takes an average SSD application to get approval or for an injured worker who has sustained a severe injury that will keep him out of work for months to get back on their feet and released to full duty; it is not abnormal to hear that our clients have had to move because they can no longer afford their home, have had vehicles repossessed because of non-payment or have had to apply for financial assistance through DES or other State agencies. I once gave a client a list of all the food banks in the East Valley and helped him map out where they were all located so he could go to multiple food banks in one day so he could stock up on food for his family. I started to cry when he left because I felt his despair and knew that even if I was able to help him personally, there are so many more in the same position as he was.
So what do we do to help? Well, the first thing we do is to train our staff to work diligently on client files, stay on task with all their assigned cases and stay on top of adjusters to pay compensation timely. We also train our staff through various Customer Service Training's throughout the year to understand that the person yelling on the phone or in the office is trying to cope with one of the most trying processes they will experience in their lives and that this is most likely not the way the person normally reacts and handles things. We train them not to get frustrated and not to get upset but rather, to be patient and listen. And when we listen, we try to see what it is they need and we try and direct them to outside resources that they may find useful during this sometimes very long and trying ordeal.
As the support staff here at the firm, we have to be more than the people who shuffle the papers and process the checks; we have to be human and relate to the problems of our clients. Its what right and its what makes us different from other firms. Our attorneys work in these communities, most of them grew up in these communities and I am pretty sure that every single one of us here at SCW has faced financial hardships at one time or another in either their youths or adult lives.
So, if you or somebody you know is in a financial situation because of an injury, a disability, a job loss or an unexpected life event, below is a list of resources that may be helpful. Nothing is going to make everything perfect when dealing with these issues, but it may be a start to some very much needed help.
Various Programs (up to 40!) that you may qualify for:
For help with utilities:
To find a food bank near you:
Women, Infant and Children:
Summer Breakfast and Lunches for Children:
Market on the Move:
To speak with our firm regarding a work injury or applying for Social Security Disbaility, you can call toll-free at 855-325-4781 to schedule a free consultation in person or over the phone. We service the entire State of Arizona and have bilingual staff and attorneys. You can read more about Snow, Carpio & Weekley on our website at: www.workinjuryaz.com.