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Mar 9, 2023

Man Takes Up Issue with S.S.B over Benefits; S.S.B Responds Favourably

Jomo Avila

The next story is a plight of a burly middle-aged man who was employed and, for the most part, suffered no known health issues during the first forty-three years of his life. But in March of last year, Jomo Avila suffered a heart attack on the job. It would mean the gradual decline of his health, the eventual end of his employment, and a permanent change of life that would see him admitted to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, thereafter and his fight for survival and his social security benefits. He and close friends took that fight to Facebook and that’s where News Five’s Marion Ali picked up his story. Here’s that report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Forty-four-year-old Jomo Avila has a heart condition and is no longer fit to work. It all started to unfold in March 2022, when he suffered a heart attack at work.


Voice of: Jomo Avila

Voice of: Jomo Avila, Wants Social Security benefits

“In March of last year I had an unfortunate heart attack at work. I was rushed to the Karl Heusner Hospital and ever since then my health has been dwindling, deteriorating to the point that I couldn’t do my duties at work, so I got dismissed in January of this year.”


Between the time of Avila’s heart attack and the time of his dismissal, he had to be hospitalized several times, and had to be placed on sick leave and given his medical forms. He received all his sick benefits during that time, but he says that since he has been deemed unfit to work, he has had a hard time collecting his invalidity benefits from the Social Security Board.


Voice of: Jomo Avila

“Since I got dismissed, I, you know, there’s no money, I’m not working. I applied for invalidity at Social Security and I was denied all the times. Their reasoning is that I needed twenty-six consecutive weeks of doctor paper. Now, mind you, I already got dismissed, so I cannot – it’s impossible for me to get twenty-six consecutive weeks of doctor paper cause I don’t have a job. So they said, okay, well exclude that document. Get a written doctor paper from my physician, which I did, and that would solve the problem. And they would start  compensating me for invalidity, either a grant or a pension. So I got a phone call the same day I submitted the last paperwork that they asked, stating that they still need the twenty-six consecutive weeks of doctor paper and now that’s impossible to get. How I wa get that? I can’t get that now.”


Avila says that his health condition is so poor that even breathing is a challenge at times. He showed us his compilation of documents, including a letter from his physician at the K.H.M.H, and those are what he is depending on in order to access his invalidity benefits.


Voice of: Jomo Avila

“My physician at Karl Heusner recommended that – stated that I am invalid, that I cannot unless I get a heart transplant. So that’s bottom line. My condition is terminal. And what help do I get? What I, I cannot work, you know, but my medication, I take over eight meds. I have to pay for those. My heart has like fifteen percent power, which gave me a condition that makes me retain a lot of water in my stomach and in my legs. I had a deep bench thrombosis diagnosed with deep bench thrombosis as well. So it’s hard for me to breathe. That’s basically, and it’s hard for me to breathe. I just took my meds like a half hour ago so I’m okay. Give me two more hours and I won’t be able to breathe. I won’t be able to speak.”


We contacted the Social Security Board about Avila’s case and their Communications Manager, Vanessa Vellos explained why initially, Avila did not qualify for his benefits.


Vanessa Vellos

Vanessa Vellos, P.R., Communications Manager, S.S.B.

“The problem that we had encountered prior was because he did not submit all of the relevant documents to fulfill the requirements to be eligible to get the benefit. We were not able to establish whether or not he was making the claim twenty-six weeks from the date of submission. So if you are an insured person, it is very important that you submit a full claim with all of the relevant documents. The onus is on the insured person to submit all of the relevant documents. It’s not for us really to go and dig for that information on behalf of the insured person.”


Vellos said that S.S.B had to go beyond the normal scope of its responsibility to assist Avila, and they have found that he has all the necessary documentation and his case will be considered by a panel.

Vanessa Vellos

“New evidence has surfaced and that new evidence came about because S.S.B. was going above and beyond where his case was concerned. Even though he did not submit all the relevant documents, we were trying our very best to try to get more information so we could ascertain if indeed, you know, he would meet that twenty-six-week requirement. And so, as of today, I can tell you that yes, he has met that twenty-six-week requirement. And so with that new development, with the doctor papers that he has already submitted, it will then go to a medical board, and this medical board consists of one specialist and two practitioners. They will meet to determine his eligibility for the invalidity benefit.”


Vellos explained that the Social Security Board has a number of categories under which one can apply for benefits.


Vanessa Vellos

“The Social Security board, that it’s actually a social insurance program that offers many different benefits. To name a few, you have maternity, you have sickness benefits, you have disabled, you have retirement, you also have invalidity benefit. And then there are also requirements that are legislated by law that you need to fulfill to be successful in your claim for one of those benefits.”


Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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