Local News


Quadruple amputee forced to prove he is still disabled

Posted at 11:43 PM, May 19, 2017
It is hard to get Eddie Garcia to complain, despite the fact that he lost both his hands and feet to a flesh-eating bacteria.
"I think I am one of the lucky ones," Garcia said.
The married father of two still coaches youth sports, thanks to prosthetics that allow him to get around.
"I don't live like this.  I live 90 percent of my days in a wheelchair," Garcia said.
Despite his somewhat active lifestyle, Garcia couldn’t continue working as a teacher after losing his limbs a few years ago.
He now relies on disability payments to help pay the bills, but recently things changed.
"I noticed my bank account, nothing was coming through that's when all of a sudden I started getting worried," Garcia said.
With less than a hundred dollars in the bank, Garcia says he called the insurance company.
He says they told him the payments were suspended because he didn't return forms proving he was still disabled.
"I'm not growing my hands back.  I'm going to be like this the rest of my life.  There is no fix to this disability," Garcia said. "I absolutely think it is absurd."
It turns out the forms were in his mailbox.
"They did their job, and they did in advance send me the paperwork by mail, but for me to be able to ride my wheelchair to the mailbox, get the mail, open it.  We are talking about a couple hours of hours of work every day just to open the mail," Garcia said.
Garcia saying he didn't look for them after asking that any forms to be sent through email.
Plus, he never thought his disability was in question.
"When in my right mind would I have thought that I had to prove my disability to them all over again."
Those who deal with insurance companies say the move isn't unusual, adding many people on disability get similar documents.
"They will do anything they can do to resist paying a claim, especially one that is one a long term payout over time," attorney Steve Parsons said of insurance companies.
Parsons says over time you can fight it, but most don't because it can be difficult.
“It is a way to inhibit; it is a way to keep control.  It is a way to make the insured all the more pliable for whatever they want to have them do to continue to earn the claim," Parsons said.
Garcia has now submitted the paperwork after getting a last-minute doctor's appointment.
He and his family are now pinching pennies until the paperwork is processed.
"I've done my part, now it is just a waiting game to see when they will pay us," Garcia said.
Garcia says he has learned his lesson and will be more prepared next year.
 He is also worried about others who may run into similar problems. 
"It is mind boggling that people have to go through this,” Garcia said.