NKC woman says there’s a systematic problem with Missouri’s blind pension

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Northland woman speaks up to help others, and it involves Missouri's blind pension.

The North Kansas City woman says it's a systematic problem that could impact others too.

Wendy Poth, 60, has been blind since she was seven years old. She receives blind pension benefits, but was recently cut off due to circumstances out of her control.

"When I thought I had myself in a very secure situation, where I could live here alone, take care of myself adequately, and have nothing to be concerned about, all of that was lost," Poth said.

The blind pension is a monthly stipend plus Medicaid for those who are blind, and do not have more than $20,000 in assets.

"There is a systemic problem in the state of Missouri regarding blind pension," said Poth.

Once a year, each person must re-certify. So in April, Poth called and asked when her review was and she said they told her June. She never heard from them. She got nervous and called the 800 number in Jefferson City and told them she never received anything regarding her pension for the upcoming year.

"And they said well, actually, we sent something on May fifth and you did not fill it out or return it, so we have cut you off as of June 13," Poth said.

She says many questions went through her mind.

"How could this have happened without me knowing it? If I hadn't called you how would I have found out?" she said. "I was sitting there thinking I was going to be able to pay my rent and get my medications come the first of next month, and wow, I wasn't!"

Deborah Babbitt is a social worker, and has been helping Poth. She says even she can't get a straight answer from Missouri Social Services.

"They're making it very difficult for the most needy and the most vulnerable of the population to have access to benefits that they're entitled to," said Babbitt.

"You would think that by 2014, blind pension would say oh what a concept, let’s call these people," said Poth.

Poth's reinstatement could've taken up to 90 days. She currently has no other income, meaning for three months she's in a financial crisis. She says she never received that letter.

"Did it get to the building into the wrong mailbox? Or did I, ha, not see it?" she said.

Poth says fixing her problem is just a small part of finding a widespread solution. She wants to prevent this from happening to others.

On Wednesday, FOX 4 reached out to Missouri Social Services.

"As needs for accommodations vary for individuals with disabilities, we provide the opportunity for clients to contact us to request assistance/accommodations and we respond to those requests as appropriate," said a Missouri Social Services spokeswoman.

Poth told FOX 4 that shortly after her story aired, social services called her notifying her she has since been reinstated.

Follow-up coverage:

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