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49 Year Old Accident Disabled Carpenter Seeks Help For Mounting Debt

by Ralph
(Hicksville, NY, USA)

Hello. I am a 49-year-old finish carpenter. I have done this work my entire adult life.

I am married with two daughters in college. I have always loved my work, both the work itself and the final product. I take extreme pride in my work.

It all ended when the day I fell while working, rupturing a disc in my back. Now my life is just a big nightmare. My marriage is in turmoil due to this.

It was a normal day in late November 2010. I showed up at the job site at 5:30 am in the city as I did every day.

I had spackled a small section of the ceiling on the second floor that was uneven about 5:45 am and at around 6:45 am or an hour later I climbed back up to check my work.

There was no scaffolding on the site so I was standing on an unfinished tub/shower. It was metal studding so it was slippery to start with and I think I stepped in a small blob of joint compound.

The next thing I knew I was falling down a steel stairwell. My hand was stuck in the rail and was twisted quite bad. I smashed my knee on the second floor steel railing base.

The next thing I remember was landing at the bottom of the stairwell hitting my lower back and pelvis on the first floor stair treads. These were temporary and made up of three sheets of 3/4 plywood and very solid.

I could not get up or move for a few minutes. Witnesses said I hit my head, but don't recall it. I did have a sort of whiplash effect in my neck.

I ruptured a disk and have a bulging disc. I’m in constant pain. I can't stand more than 20 minutes without sitting. I have a problem sitting for an extended period without moving or standing.

I have lost a lot of weight. My back tends to get locked up if I bend the wrong way. I have been through physical therapy that didn't help.

My orthopedic Doctor does not want me to lift or work with any weights over 20 lbs, or work on ladders. Needless to say I can't function as a carpenter now.

This has caused me tremendous grief which lead to my having severe depression and anxiety. He’s told me I was 100% disabled as a carpenter.

I have seen Labor Department counselors recently who suggest that I sign up for Social Security Disability as they feel I cannot work at all due to my physical limitations and my emotional problems.

We are having an extremely hard time making ends meet now. My wife works full time, but she makes less than half of what I was making.

I can't do any work around the house like I always used to. Things are falling apart.

I had to sell a few things to try and make some extra money. I always had a hobby going. And now I find it impossible to do that.

I'm never happy; I have really bad nightmares every night. I'm on 3 different medications for my emotional problems. I find it hard to go into a store without having panic attacks.

We have a mortgage payment that is going to be impossible to continue paying.

Chase Bank has turned me down four times for re-modifications due to the fact they talked me into doing a "streamline Refinance" in 2010.

Now I don't fit the 2009 cut off date, even though the refinance people said it would not affect it. They plainly misled me.

In April of 2011 I tried to take a job as a supervisor with a small construction company.

I was not able to perform in my usual way both mentally and physically and I was let go after 9 days. This really hurt my pride, as I have never been let go from any job.

I always excelled at anything I did. Since then I have been trying to find something I can do, but there is not much out there for a 49 year old carpenter who can't do the work.

I have applied for disability, but haven't heard back yet. Even if I get it, it will not be enough to do any good as far as putting my life back how it was financially. I have spent hours and hours looking for help online, with no luck.

My specific needs right now are help financially with our household bills, mortgage, college for the kids and car payments.

A grant would be unbelievable! We need financial help very badly. If I where able to choose, I would choose a grant or some type of long-term low interest loan.

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Sep 15, 2011
Thanks for the link!
by: Ralph

Thank you for the link, I will go to it right after this reply....

Everyone always asked me why I don?t go into business on my own.... Maybe I should seriously consider it. I used to always have a little side job just for extra money, but did the work myself. I would definitely have to have some sort of help. About 4 years ago I did apply for a DBA-sole proprietor. But it was as far as I got. I would need help with license costs and insurance costs as well. I used to be a master when it came to kitchens and bathrooms or other small renovations or additions, also do some outdoor stuff like decks, arbors and repairs. I really need to get my head together again. It is easier said than done. That might be the only way I can make it. I live in an area where taxes and home mortgage costs are maybe the highest in the country. I just can't lose our home over this. I can't. This is why I have problems sleeping and my depression trouble I?m assuming.

I wonder how long it takes if I qualify? I have tried everything, but not sure I tried that exact link and I will. Well I guess one way to find out is go to the link and see. I will get back here with any news I find out. Thank you for your timely reply.

Sep 15, 2011
You can't fall up, you have to climb
by: Ken

Hi Ralph,
I don't know if you are a Journeyman or not, but perhaps you could become a small contractor. You have been in the business for a long time and know the ins and outs. If you are a Journeyman you could get a wage subsidy for hiring apprentices, and you might qualify for a grant for starting a small business. Try copying this link and paste it on your browser:


to see if there is any way you qualify. Then talk to your peers that you have worked with to find work that they may consider too small or put an ad in Craigslist or the likes for apprentices Good Luck, Ken

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