Legal Aid Paves the Way to a Better Life for a Girl Injured at Birth
Life hasn’t been easy for Maziah Mills-Sorrells, age 4. Shortly after she was born, her parents realized something wasn’t quite right. Her family soon learned that her left arm was completely paralyzed due to an injury sustained at the time of her birth.
Although they work hard and would do anything to help Maziah, her parents aren’t wealthy. They’re struggling to make ends meet while working at fast food restaurants. They barely have enough to keep themselves in a home, fed, and clothed. There isn’t enough left over to help Maziah learn to cope without use of her left arm. The Sorrells work hard, but even so their combined income rarely exceeds $12,000 a year.
With financial concerns looming and Maziah’s condition becoming problematic as she grows, the Sorrells filed a birth injury lawsuit against the hospital and medical team that assisted with the delivery. While the odds of them winning the Florida birth injury case are good, at the moment, litigation is slow and a settlement hasn’t been agreed upon.
Understanding that the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, the Sorrels turned to the Social Security Administration for assistance. They turned in an application asking for child disability benefits. So far they’ve submitted the application three times, and all three times the application has been met with denial.
A local Florida paper heard about the story and wrote an article about Maziah and the struggles her family deal with every single day. The article highlighted how a simple thing like maintaining her balance, washing her hair, and even getting dressed can be a monumental challenge to Maziah and how she requires more care than the average 4 years old.
The article generated a storm of helpful suggestions, including the advice that the Sorrells speak to Florida’s Community Legal Services, which consists of a group of lawyers who help the poor with a wide variety of financial services. The Legal Services team admired how tenacious the Sorrels have been and how devoted they are to providing Maziah with the best possible life and helping her learn to live with the challenges presented by her birth injury.
With the help of the Community Legal Services, another child disability application was filled out and sent to the Social Security Administration. This time the organization not only noticed the application, but also approved it. The approval means that the Maziah will get a monthly check that’s meant to help with her medical care.
U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez provided further relief to the young, struggling family when they reversed the denial the original application received, forcing the SSA to make retroactive payments that date back all the way to 2011. The retroactive payments came to $17,000, significantly more money than the Sorrels had ever seen before.
At this point, the retroactive pay has not yet made its way to the Sorrel’s home, though no one fully understands what has caused the delay. While they wait, the Sorrels are putting the monthly $657 check they are receiving to good use.
But while the monthly SSI check of $657 is coming in to the family, the retroactive cash payments are delayed. A spokesman for the Social Security Administration would not comment on any aspect of Maziah’s case.