Access to Health Care

Jeff understands that dealing with a health issue can be stressful, and believes that accessing proper healthcare should not add to this stress. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, but Jeff and his team seek to help whenever possible.

Oregonian Amanda Deno was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) in 2016, at the age of 43. PF is a chronic and progressive lung disease which makes it difficult for the bloodstream to receive adequate amounts of oxygen. Those with PF are usually given a life expectancy of 4 to 6 years from diagnosis. Unable to work, Ms. Deno moved back in to her parents’ house in Bend, where she applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration (SSA) denied her initial application, and she appealed, submitting a request for hearing in March 2017. Her attorneys informed her that due to backlog at the SSA, she would not receive the hearing until roughly April 2019.

As Ms. Deno’s condition worsened, she contacted Jeff in 2018 looking for help. Her fear was that her parents, who were already financially supporting her, would have to bear the burden of her funeral and burial costs if her SSI was not approved before she passed away. During this ordeal, Amanda’s attorneys had stopped responding to her phone and email messages.

Jeff’s team found that Ms. Deno’s attorneys had done nothing since March 2017. Jeff’s office submitted a “dire need request” which can expedite hearings in the SSA for those with dire needs for medical attention in order to have their hearing request moved up to the next open slot. The request was accepted and Amanda’s hearing took place in September 2018.

Ms. Deno was approved for her SSI, and the medical doctor who testified on her behalf said she should have received the benefits years ago. She reached out to Jeff’s team to express her “extreme gratitude” for their help, and indicated that she hopes to advocate for disabled persons’ rights in the future.