Archive for Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Disabled Edwardsville man faces eviction

January 16, 2008

The plight of an Edwardsville man disabled by a construction accident and impoverished by his inability to work, a grindingly slow government bureaucracy and an insurance company unwilling to pay for needed treatment has attracted the help of a congressman.

Unfortunately, it looks like Ron Waller, 34, will still be evicted from his trailer home in about a week's time.

On Dec. 15, 2004, the Edwardsville resident was hit from the side by 26,000 pounds of steel in an industrial accident while working at Southwest Steel. Staying on for another 11 months, Waller lost his job, though he did get a workman's compensation settlement of $60,000.

Waller's accident left him unable to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, he said, which makes any kind of work next to impossible. The last time he tried was in early 2006, when he landed a job with the city of Bonner Springs at the Community Center. The job required some walking and the resultant pain was too much for Waller, so he quit after a few days.

Waller has training in construction, as well as aircraft mechanics and as an electrician, and he can't do the latter because his colorblindness prevents him from getting licensed.

Then there's his social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, which he said were brought on as a result of the accident.

Waller's disability claim has been denied twice now by Social Security, because he's too young; he's been waiting for a hearing for nearly three years. The agency uses a matrix that relies heavily on age in determining whether an applicant qualifies for disability benefits.

He received a letter recently from the office of Rep. Dennis Moore, R-Kan., that said he was approved for an expedited disability hearing with Social Security.

"I'll probably be in court in the next two to three months, but that's probably two or three months too late," he said.

"I can see the finish line," Waller said, "but I'm afraid I'm going to end up stumbling and falling before I get to it."

Unless Waller comes up with $980 he'll have to move out of the trailer he bought with his worker's compensation settlement. Making a bad situation worse, he will likely lose the trailer as well, because he never paid the taxes on it and the title is not in his name.

Waller said he's used up all the available resources in Wyandotte County to get money to pay his rent and the last month paid was November, by the VFW. He'll be renting a room from an uncle in Kansas City, Kan.

He's made plans to store his belongings in a public storage space, but as of last week he didn't know how he would manage moving his stuff.

"The only family I got out here is elderly so they can't help," he said.

"I can't physically do it - my legs are getting worse; it's getting harder for me to walk," Waller said.

Waller said his ultimate goal was to get a hip replacement. That would allow him to be able to work again, he said.

"I'm young - I want to get back out in the workforce," Waller said.

But the insurance company for Southwest Steel, Wausau Underwriters, refuses to pay for the hip replacement, Waller said, because the company says he can't prove his condition - avascular necrosis, in which the bones eventually die from a lack of blood - wasn't caused by Perthes Disease, a disorder he had as a child that caused similar problems with his hips.

Waller is suing Wausau for refusing to cover his treatment, and said doctors he's seen at Kansas University Hospital told him his present condition has nothing to do with Perthes, which he said he hasn't had since he was 7 years old.

On Tuesday Waller said his pastor and some friends had begun to to raise money "in a last-ditch effort" to prevent his eviction. Those interested in helping Waller can reach him at (913) 441-2236.

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