Jul 30, 2017

Vet Cut Off Disability Benefits

     From the Rapid City Journal:
For 31-year-old Wayne Swier, a U.S. Army combat veteran who suffered devastating injuries from an improvised explosive device seven years ago in Afghanistan, this summer should have been a season of solace and celebration. 
But fate and a federal agency seemed to have conspired to turn it into a nightmare. 
Swier is set to marry his sweetheart in a week, and the couple plans to move into a new home near Johnson Siding built by the nonprofit Homes for Our Troops later in August. ... 
Instead, in May the Social Security Administration deemed him no longer disabled and cut off his monthly disability checks, in a manner as harsh as the way that IED blew off his leg in a small Afghan village in November 2010. 
Today, Swier is essentially broke, behind on his rent, his credit cards are maxed out, and just last week, power was cut off to his Box Elder rental home due to nonpayment, meaning he couldn’t even recharge his robotic prosthetic leg. Although his electricity has since been restored thanks to Black Hills Energy, the man’s problems have not been resolved. ...
     No, the article doesn't explain what his VA benefits situation is or why he's not drawing interim benefits from Social Security.


Anonymous said...

Well, the article did not discuss his specific work-related limitations or the objective medical findings, so it is impossible to determine if the cessation is supported by substantial evidence based on these facts. It is, essentially, click-bait.

Also, what is he doing with his $3k+ a month from the VA and free healthcare for life such that he can't pay his power bill?

Anonymous said...


If one of his arms is entirely non functional, in addition to the amputation of his left leg, listing 1.05 under paragraph C is equaled regardless of specific work-related limitations. Even if his arm is still functioning to a degree, he could still be disabled under paragraph B especially since the article notes he had significant difficulty getting his prosthesis to function correctly. Although the article lacks discussion of the objective medical findings...I think his leg is objectively missing.

In regard to what he is doing with his $3,000+ per month from the VA, the article explains he is behind on rent, him and his fiancee are in the process of getting married, and she has 5 kids (three still at home). These expenses could easily eat up $3,000 per month.

Anonymous said...

@10:42 If you cannot afford your lifestyle on more than $36000 (VA and SSDI) annually then you need to change your lifestyle. That is $18.75/hour for a worker, then taxes get taken out. That is more than most home health workers make, more than the proposed $15/hr min wage that drives people crazy and more, more than most substance abuse councilors make, more than a receptionist. Disability is not an excuse for poor money management.

As a veteran, these stories drive me insane!

Anonymous said...


I'm not sure getting married and moving into a new home represents his "lifestyle." Also, mental disability is an excuse for poor money management. The Administration has the representative payee system for this exact reason.

But I agree, good money management would have made the termination of his benefits far less harmful. A warning of more than a few weeks would also reduce the harm, as would automatic enrollment in interim benefits.

Anonymous said...

I have not read the article yet but most people who receive $3000.00 or more a month and yet can not manage to maintain the minimum necessities does have a money management and or entitlement issue.

Anonymous said...

11:51 why are you dragging rep payee into the discussion. We are discussing this case, not a mythical unicorn case. Stick to the limited, biased, one sided facts we have in this smear article.

Anonymous said...


I dragged rep payees into the discussion because 11:15 stated these types of stories drive him insane because disability is not an excuse for poor money management. My point was that in some cases, potentially even some of the stories 11:15 referenced, it is an excuse. I thought my comment was clearly not in regard to this case.

Anonymous said...

More than meets the eye on this one. Key facts are missing. This disrespect happens to many vets. I obviously seriously doubt the SSA's reasoning to terminate his benefits. Listing 1.05C should be enough for lifelong benes. Also, the timing and lack of notice is problematic.

However, was wondering the job prospects of the fiancé. This technically should not matter because it appears this vet deserves the benes plain and simple. But this should have factored into the decision to buy the house.

We can talk about his lack of money management skills. And maybe he could do better. We all could. But the bottom line is his eligibility for disability benes. Why is the SSA cutting him off and so rudely?

My hunch is there is some kind of CDI (continuing disability investigation) review going on. Typically a nosy neighbor, relative or nosy Good Samaritan will rat out someone out and about doing something that proves they could work. But usually these nosy people don't factor in the prospect of a severe mental disorder such as PTSD.

I wonder for those above who criticize this vet - How would you feel if your left leg was blown off? Maybe you would have some PTSD about it. Nah, of course you are Superman.

Anonymous said...

Do some internet searching. It sounds like he's working. Hello step 1!

Anonymous said...

"If one of his arms is entirely non functional, in addition to the amputation of his left leg, listing 1.05 under paragraph C is equaled regardless of specific work-related limitations. Even if his arm is still functioning to a degree, he could still be disabled under paragraph B especially since the article notes he had significant difficulty getting his prosthesis to function correctly."

He plays the guitar and rides a motorcycle. I'm not sure how his left arm is entirely non-functional, particularly given the photo with the story that doesn't look to show any atrophy of his left arm. Even if it were non-functional, you'd still have to be able to show an inability to ambulate, which per his own report, no longer exists with the prosthesis... "It was like what I remembered walking to be like," the soft-spoken Swier recalled in a 2014 interview with the Journal.

Also from that article in 2014 "For the past year, Swier has been customizing the motorcycle, re-boring the engine, adding digital instrumentation, a suicide shifter, ape hanger handlebars and a Recluse auto-clutch that means he does not have to shift with his lost left leg." Again, doesn't sound like complete loss of function in the left arm or significant cognitive dysfunction, but then again, he could just be very talented with the right arm or completely adapting and modifying a motorcycle could be really easy.

With regard to his prosthesis not working, is it not working for the 12-month durational requirement of 1.05B? Or did it get repaired and returned to him in about four months (not saying that's a quick turnaround with what he dealt with, but certainly not durational)? Also, from a 2014 article regarding that VA screw up... "I’m young, I’m fit, I’m active,” Swier said. “There is no reason for a 28-year-old like me to be confined to a wheelchair simply because the VA can’t get its act together."

He's also in college majoring in marketing and set to graduate to become a sped teacher, so I'm not sure his PTSD is going to be functionally preclusive of work, either, though it also doesn't necessarily mean he can.

Look, the guy could very well be disabled and very well should be returned into the program, and if so, they need to get it corrected ASAP. But nothing in this story or the previous stories run about him clearly demonstrates disability.

Anonymous said...

6 pm said it all....God Bless him....We thought we had it bad... lose some limbs and it's a totally different ball game!

Anonymous said...

6:00pm hitting them with the reality and dropping the mic!

Anonymous said...


Fair point in regard to the guitar, motorcycle, and school. His arm sounds capable of engage in fine manipulation and gross movement. Unless his school is online, he appears capable of functioning socially. In regard to the 12 month duration, my point was that he could have been awarded under the listing on the expectation that it would last 12 months, as it clearly had not.

Anonymous said...

@1:36, did you serve? if not you have not one single little bitty thing to add to the conversation except talking out of the wrong orifice. I still have my leg, but it has enough metal pins and screws and new joints to make me a very interesting archaeology project in a few hundred years.

Not every vet returns with severe PTSD. All that went to the Sandbox have some degree, but most are not severe and work through it over the years. Contrary to the popular view that we are all a quivering mass of nerves ready to go on a killing spree or roll up into a ball at the first backfire or firecracker, many of us are just fine and go to work everyday just like everyone else. We eat, sleep, drink, get married, raise our kids all without digging foxholes in our front yards and CCW everywhere.

Those that do suffer severe PTSD to the point of disability have medical records to back it up. The system has been very responsive to those that reach out for help. The changes over the last five years both inside the VA and outside with peer to peer (just outstanding) counseling are stronger than any time before for return troops. Help is available for those that seek it.

Superman you bet! I am! Airmobile, Airdropable, invisible, fireproof and Death from Above! I will always be a U.S. Army soldier!!!!

Anonymous said...

Love you 10:42.
I don't see him being terminated from SSDI benefits unless he has worked over 9 months at SGA. When he received the termination notice, he had 10 days to appeal and elect for the continuation of benefits pending a hearing decision. Otherwise, stay in school until you can qualify for something that pays.
Then sometimes people are cut off in error. Just this morning, one of my claimants was telling me how her medicaid had been cut off and her medicare will be cut off. I told her something didn't sound right and that we needed a hearing on the medicaid. Low and behold, medicaid admitted to a mistake and said they would refund her medical expenses she had paid out of her pocket.
I wouldn't accept this determination as the way things have to be.

Anonymous said...

@1146--There is payment continuation for medical cessation but not for work cessation. There are appeals for SGA but that doesn't include payment continuation.

Anonymous said...

There is a 9 month trial work period during which benefits continue. After the 9 months, if the individual is working above SGA, benefits will cease regardless of medical condition. There is nothing to appeal.

Anonymous said...

After the 9 months if not medically ceased you get paid for any month in which you do not earn SGA during the EPE which goes on for several years.