Las Vegas Woman Who Suffers Severe Short-Term Memory Loss Denied Disability Benefits

The Las Vegas Sun had an interesting story last week about a woman who suffered hippocampus, a brain complication caused by atrophy that resulted in short-term memory loss and her fight with the Social Security Administration (SSA) over disability benefits.

Tina Kitchel, 41, a former medical technician, when into cardiac arrest three years ago during an emergency cesarean section, her heart stopping for 27 minutes. During that time, she suffered hippocampus. She ended up in a coma for 13 days—when she awoke, she was told she would never be able to recall a memory again. She does not remember her wedding day or the births of her children. “It’s like I woke up in a dystopian society,” Kitchel said to the Sun.

Kitchel’s neurologist told her she would never be able to work again. In order to make ends meet, she applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, the SSA denied her claims saying that despite her disabilities, she should be able to work.

The Sun’s story paints an unfathomable life for Kitchel. She struggles constantly; she becomes disoriented as she walks around the block. She cannot cook meals at home, because she forgets to turn the stove burners off. “She has a severe brain injury that affects her ability to cognitively function with any kind of work,” Harb, Tina’s husband told the Sun. “She is very forgetful. … She can do simple things, but she cannot take care of her bank account. She needs help with her basic needs.”

Kitchel said she remembers major life events up until she was 14-years-old, and has fragmented memories up until the age of 28—but she remembers nothing about the present time. Kitchel said she plans to appeal the SSA’s rulings, but she will have to wait to have her case heard before an administrative law judge until April—the process could leave her without an income for almost a year.

Last year, Kitchel met with a Disability Determination Services’ appointed doctor who ruled that she should be capable of doing some type of work. Ironically, after she met with the doctor, she became confused and was found wandering the street after the appointment. Furthering complications, Kitchel’s doctor will not approve her to go back to work, because he would be held liable should any accidents occur while she was on the clock.

We hope that Kitchel is successful in her appeal. Her story illustrates why SSDI benefits are so important to the fabric of this country. In order to qualify for benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses two different tests including the “Duration of Work Test” and the “Recent Work Test”. These take into account how long you have worked, as well as how recently, in order to determine eligibility.

If you have endured a traumatic brain injury that leaves you unable to work, we suggest contacting a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney. We offer free evaluations of your case, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404. We will help you every step of the way and fight for your rights. Contact us today.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys

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