Severely brain injured son denied disability benefits - father fights for change

Fighting financial drain

Tracey Prediger

Sitting at his kitchen island Gord Arthur is surrounded by several stacks of paper, “I’m going to keep fighting, just like he’s doing.”

Arthur’s son Declan sits on a recliner just meters away. The 21 year old is severely brain injured, hooked up to a feeding tube, and can’t move by himself.

As Declan fights to recover, his father fights the province over denied disability benefits.

It was late September 2021 when Arthur got the call no parent ever wants. Declan had crashed his ATV and was being rushed to hospital.

He was in a coma, laid in a hospital bed for eight and a half months, and faced being moved to a long term care facility.

“If I want to kiss my son goodnight when I come home from work late, no one is going to stop me, “ says Arthur, who believes bringing his son back home for 24/7 care by the people who love him, is the best environment for his son’s recovery. No matter what that recovery might look like.

Getting ready for Declan’s homecoming last May was a true community effort, not lost on Arthur.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who helped us and there were so many.”

He has to scroll through the list on his cell phone because Declan’s supporters won't fit on one page.

Door frames needed to be widened to allow for wheelchair access. Kitchen walls were removed to allow Declan, who is prone to aspiration, to be constantly watched.

People came together to install new sidewalks, an outdoor elevator and fund a van with a power ramp to help Declan.

But keeping Declan home is expensive and repeated applications for provincial “Persons with Disabilities' benefits are being denied.

“Declan meets all criteria but one,” according to Arthur. “They say he makes too much money.”

Each month Declan receives $2,131.00 from his previous employer’s long term disability insurance, that’s $573 more than allowed.

“He gets punished now because of this. He desperately needs the help in ways that are unexplainable and it breaks my heart sitting here knowing I can't do a damn thing about it.”

The cost of feeding tubes and incontinence supplies, prescriptions and physiotherapy push Declan’s monthly expenses to over $5,000.

“We struggle financially to meet all the daily and monthly expenses for him,”

But Arthur says if Declan was taking up a long term bed, the province would look at Declan’s income, completely differently.

“Now if he was going to go to a home, they would take 80% of his income, which would leave $400 extra.”

The math doesn’t make sense to Arthur who vows to continue lobbying the government to change eligibility requirements while advocating to keep his son at home.

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