Rooting for Cully!

This story could happen to any of us, but it happened to my friend Matt. In 2008, Matt sustained a brain injury after being mugged. Since then, his mental health has deteriorated to the point that he needs to go through the long and complex process of applying for Social Security Disability. Right now he is without medical insurance or health care of any kind and is facing homelessness. 

Have you ever felt like the thing you're going through will never end?

You isolate yourself and feel hopeless.
You are sure everyone hates you.
If only you could summon up the courage to ask for help. Any of it. All of it.

You might know Matt. You might know someone who has been fighting to get through each day the way Matt has. You might be fighting yourself and understand how painful and exhausting it is.

Applying for Disability is very difficult and most people are denied the first time. They then have to go through the application process all over again in appeal. To be approved, Matt needs to be under consistent psychiatric and medical care, so that his physician can recommend him for disability and has a record of care. 

He also needs to have a secure place to live, food, funds for transportation to appointments, realistic part-time work for income, taking into account his mental health condition, and he needs to have some help getting through the tangle of sorting out how to get the resources he is eligible for and needs. With his mental health condition, taking care of multiple applications at different agencies and organizations is an enormous challenge. Doing it while homeless is near impossible. 

The funds for Team Matt will be used to get Matt in stable physical, mental, and financial situation, with the resources he needs to sustain that long-term. That is the goal.

Here is the plan:

Get safe, secure and affordable housing

Submit appeal to Medicaid

Apply for food stamps

Pursue non-government resources for people in crisis 

Establish a monthly budget for food, travel, and living expenses

Find a doctor and psychiatrist who takes Medicaid (this is not easy)

Find a disability lawyer (cannot be done until Matt is under regular care of physician and psychiatrist for minimum of three months)

Apply for Social Security Disability

Enlist help in applying for Disability and collecting forms, records, and testimony

Establish fund or work income to live on during application process

The brain is the most complex organ in the body. When an illness affects that particular organ the world doesn't respond with Get Well cards. People you love, well meaning people, tell you to shake it off or suck it up. When you suffer a trauma to your lungs no one asks you to chill out and breathe slower.  

If you want to understand the inner turmoil a gifted, polite, thoughtful friend pushes back against while he fights illness and trauma to his brain, please read this brilliant piece written by Maureen Herman .  Using Matt's own words, she is someone who has been in Matt’s position--and got out. She is helping Matt navigate the process of applying for disability.

A group of old friends are working on helping Matt access the resources that are available to him, helping him find appropriate employment as well as a steady place to live. I am hoping to raise a bit of dough until he gets his sea legs back. 

But he needs help and financial resources.

Being broke ain't cheap.

It would be really something if he had enough time free from immediate financial worry to put the basics back in line.

He would love to see your name and a word of encouragement. I just know it.

Matt needs help right now. I'm reaching out to this incredible family we belong to in hopes you can help.

I sure do appreciate you reading this.

Life. It ain't for the faint of heart.

Thank Magic for empathy and friends.

Heather Whinna

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Organizer and beneficiary

Heather Whinna 
Chicago, IL
Matthew Cullison 
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