Oklahoma Woman Struggling To Receive Disability Benefits

Wednesday, July 29th 2020, 1:57 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero

TULSA, Okla. -

One Oklahoma woman said she's found herself stuck in a battle with the government for disability benefits.

Bonnie VanDeraa is known for beating the odds and has a made her claim to fame walking in marathons across the country after surviving not 1 but 2 gunshot wounds to the head in 2018. 

"I think one reason I survived is I am here to encourage other people. Walk in a marathon or walking even a 5K. I'm out there with my walker doing it," Bonnie said. 

Bonnie's doctor said she suffers from traumatic brain injury, anxiety, PTSD, and seizures. Bonnie claims she's not able to work and has been filing for social security disability benefits and has been denied now 4 times.

News on 6 spoke to Bonnie when she crossed the finish line in the Route 66 Marathon. Now, Bonnie thinks her walking is the reason she's not being approved.

"I seriously do think it's being used against me. Running has always been a passion and now it's like it's been taken away from me," Bonnie explained. 

The Dallas Social Security Office said they could not comment on Bonnie's case, but explained their evaluation process. They said medical evaluation representatives look at the following: 

For adults, this is a five-step process that requires sequential review of:

  1. the claimant's current work activity (if any),
  2. the severity of his or her impairment(s),
  3. a determination of whether his or her impairment(s) meets or medically equals a listing,
  4. the claimant's ability to perform his or her past relevant work, and
  5. his or her ability to do other work based on age, education, and work experience.

In a denial letter, a judge said Bonnie has no "functional limitations." The list of impairments does include neurological disorders, so Bonnie wants to know why her case is not being considered.

"I want to change the way this is done, that's my end goal. There has to be a better way and I want to find that," Bonnie said.