Bridging the Gap of Disability and Life

This past fall, our lives changed drastically and without warning. Tim unexpectedly suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage (a ruptured brain aneurysm) September 24, 2013, and spent five weeks in the hospital. His blood pressure hit 280/200 on the way to the hospital and he was put into a medically-induced coma for three days to allow his body to “reboot”.

Tim spent 16 days in the Neuro Critical Care Unit, six days in the stroke unit, and 12 days in the rehab hospital. We are thankful and blessed that he is one of the 40% who survive this type of brain injury — most aneurysms are found at autopsy, and of the 40% who survive, many are severely handicapped physically and cognitively. Tim is fortunate to be only "minimally" affected by the damage to his brain. He is not paralyzed and is able to walk and talk.

Despite Tim’s miraculous healing, significant physical and cognitive issues remain — he lacks the physical endurance required of his job, and has difficulties finding and using the proper words, particularly in high-stress situations. These issues might not be sufficient to prevent someone with a desk job from returning to work, but it simply is not safe for Tim to return to his job in armed security at a nuclear power plant and they don’t have a desk job for him.

What does that mean for us? Since our marriage in 2012, Tim's job has afforded Andrae the opportunity to stay at home and take care of Tim and our home. She volunteers with several organizations and has been able to make quilts for families of lost servicemen.

Tim and Andrae both continue to be active in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and in making quilts for Coast Guard families. 

Employment in our area is very limited, and until now, it has not been a necessary option for Andrae. It is an avenue we are now pursuing and she is the top contender for a position starting this fall. While this will help, we do not expect it to resolve all our financial challenges, therefore we are evaluating other avenues of income for us as well. Additionally, Andrae is taking on odd jobs and is still available to cater events and do personal shopping and cooking for families and individuals, as well as to create memory quilts and teach others how to quilt.  

After Tim's aneurysm, our fiscal health suffered greatly, and in numerous ways. We remained covered under the insurance provided by Tim's employer through the end of 2013. After that time, we had to purchase COBRA insurance, a $1,010 per month expense we were completely unprepared for financially. While Tim has not received a paycheck since September 2013, Tim qualified for permanent Social Security Disability (SSD) effective March 2014. Contrary to what we had been told, we were not eligible for back payments to the time of the aneurysm. We had been counting on the back benefits to get caught up on our fixed expenses. Additionally, we discovered that Tim would NOT be eligible for Medicaid for another 24 months, leaving us with that $1,010 per month COBRA expense. We have been turned down for health insurance through New Jersey but are appealing that decision. 

To put it bluntly, our current household income is approximately one-fourth what it was while Tim was working. Factor in the health insurance expense, and our current monthly income is less than one-half of our expenses, even after cutting back every place that we have been able to so far. We have exhausted all of our savings, including cashing out life insurance and 401k.

We have been meeting with various social service agencies and applied for whatever assistance they have available, to very little avail. We were awarded $15 (per month) in food stamps, however, as I type this, our Internet service has been suspended and we are in jeopardy of having our power shut off at any time, despite having an application for utility assistance in the works and communicating with the power company. Our family and church have helped as much as they can but they, too, are pretty well tapped out.

We are doing everything we can to cut expenses and narrow the gap between expenses and income. It takes time to sell off assets and make agreements with the cable company, the cell phone company — even the health club has fees to end the agreement early.

We have gone from three vehicles down to one and are now driving Andrae's little unairconditioned 1997 Saturn, as it gets the best gas mileage and provides heat in the winter. In the past, we have loaned "Bessie" to families in need and to Andrae's son when he graduated from boot camp and was stationed away from home.

Our immediate needs are to be able to bridge the gap between the SSD benefits and our fixed expenses, with a long-term goal of not being dependant on Tim's social security disability. Expanding Andrae's quilting business with the addition of a long-arm quilting machine will provide a viable source of income to support our family. It will give Tim the opportunity to contribute as he is able.

Aerie Designs' business expansion plan is near completion. We welcome the opportunity to share that with anyone interested in investing with us.

Our GoFundMe page is a two-fold fundraising page. First, enable others to assist with our immediate household needs for the next six months or so. Second, to allow others to invest in the expansion of Aerie Designs. Our “wish list” details the monthly need, with the credit card debt listed as the total credit card debt, not past due or minimum payments due. Our intent is to be contributing members of society again within six months of purchasing a long-arm quilting machine for Aerie Designs.

If you wish to receive a receipt for tax purposes, or would like to discuss return on investment in Aerie Designs, please contact us at [email redacted] prior to making your donation. 

We thank you for your prayer support and encouragement as we travel this challenging journey. We humbly ask for your prayerful consideration in helping us meet our monthly expenses as we work toward expanding our business.

Other ways you can help:
• Prayer is powerful
• Share our GoFundMe page with friends
• Print & post GoFundMe posters

Thank you for your consideration.

Tim & Andrae DeHaan
  • David Fox 
    • $25 
    • 79 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 83 mos
  • chris sackiw 
    • $100 
    • 83 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $90 
    • 84 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 84 mos
See all


Andrae McPherson DeHaan 
Salem, NJ
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