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Polk County man denied Social Security disability, sells belongings to survive

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 19:39:17-04

AUBURNDALE, Fla. — As the cost of everything continues to rise, many people living on a fixed income are barely surviving.

Brett Chamberlin's letters from the Social Security Administration have piled up.

“They send me letters saying, you didn’t come for your interview. I didn’t have an interview. You didn’t submit the information we requested. You didn’t request any information,” Chamberlin said.

He has been going back and forth with the SSA office since 2017, when he was first diagnosed with Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and Giant Cell Arteritis.

“That’s where the cells in your arteries that go from your heart to your brain, transporting your oxygen, they expand to 1000 times their size. Therefore, you don’t get oxygen absorption because you don’t have enough cells,” Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin depends on high flow oxygen 100% of the time and uses a wheelchair to get around. He tells ABC Action News he was declared disabled by his doctor but has been denied Social Security disability.

“I have dragged my butt in and out of the Social Security offices. I have begged, I have cried, I have pleaded. I am disabled, I am disabled, I am disabled. My doctor has sent letters... you don’t qualify,” he said.

Chamberlin and his wife are both unable to work. She receives $994 per month in disability. Chamberlin is getting $303 a month of Social Security spousal benefits. That is their total household income. He said it is impossible for them to pay their property rent, car insurance and electric, which they are behind on.

“We’re not able to survive. I have sold everything that I owned of any value with the exception of my wedding ring,” Chamberlin said.

ABC Action News reached out to the Social Security Administration and was told due to privacy laws they could not discuss individual cases.

Meanwhile, Chamberlin said SSA will be doing a disability review with him next week.