On Memorial Day, Coloradan Steve Modrak took his first steps on what he expects to be a 2,300 mile journey on foot to Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of Fort Bragg, an Army base housing some 40,000 soldiers as well as the Army’s Special Forces. It is harrowing journey for anyone, let alone Modrak who has been blind for the past five years.
Modrak’s motivation is the topic we discussed on Wednesday – disabled veterans. When asked why he undertook the journey, Modrak cites the 46 percent of veterans who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with some sort of disability. He also mentions the 1.2 million living below the poverty line, and the 800,000 without work. Although Modrak has never served in the armed forces (a bad back kept him from enlisting in the Navy), he hopes to bring awareness to the plight of disabled veterans and raise money to help them out.
Modrak himself is a Social Security disability beneficiary. He became blind about five years ago when his gun discharged while he was cleaning it. He forgot to check the chamber, went away to answer the phone, came back to the gun, and it accidentally fired, striking him in his forehead.
If you are blind or have low vision, disability benefits are available through either the SSI benefits or SSDI benefits program with the difference being that SSI benefits are for low income Americans with few assets and SSDI benefits are for those with a work history. The Social Security Administration employs special rules for blind or low vision applicants. For example, most disability applicants cannot earn more than $1,010 a month, whereas that limit for blind beneficiaries is $1,690.
Modrak initially headed towards Texas, but crossed into Oklahoma in mid-June. He passed through Tulsa to see his brother and several friends from high school before heading towards Memphis, Tennessee. He expects to finish his walk in mid-September. Modrak chronicles his journey on his Facebook page entitled “Steve, The Blind Guy who cares.”
Have you or a loved one suffered a disability that makes work impossible? If so, speak to our Tulsa OK Social Security disability lawyers to learn whether you qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits.