It was a neighborhood party. A friendly social gathering.
But for Noel, it was literally the wrong place at the wrong time.
While chatting with a friend and his girlfriend, the woman’s ex-boyfriend approached the group with a shotgun and opened fire. The blast caught Noel in the side of his face, neck, and shoulder. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital and immediately brought into surgery. It took five weeks in the hospital to recover. While his life was saved, he was left with only part of his jaw intact and numerous pieces of buckshot remain scattered throughout the wounded area. He is learning to cope with the resultant pain, limited movement, and weakened arm. There is more surgery ahead.
Noel was used to working for a living to supporting himself. He could no longer do so and applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration decided that his condition would eventually improve and denied his application.
At one of his subsequent visits to the hospital, Noel learned of Bet Tzedek’s Medical-Legal Partnership on the campus of St. Francis Medical Center and went there for help. It took ten months of preparation – gathering all the medical history, records, and expert opinions. When the appeal date finally arrived, the judge reviewed the case we put forth and posed several questions to Noel. Combined with the information presented by his Bet Tzedek attorney, the judge agreed that Noel could not presently perform any reasonable job tasks. His request for SSI payments was approved.
Life isn’t fair, and Noel certainly has come to realize that. And while there are some things that can’t be changed, Bet Tzedek helps fight injustice and change those that can.