MTA Denying More Access A Ride Claims

Sunday’s New York Post featured a story about how the MTA is denying more Access-A-Ride claims. To be more specific, the agency denied 13% of applicants in 2013 which is nearly double the rate from 5 years ago. Stephen M. Joseph and Michael Gartland of the New York Post have more:

The MTA denied 13 percent of Access-A-Ride applicants in 2013 — almost 7,000 New Yorkers — more than double the denial rate from five years ago.

And it’s no coincidence the agency began enforcing stricter eligibility requirements for disabled riders at the same time its overall $12 billion budget shrank $900 million in 2010.

“When we slashed the budget, everything took a hit,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said. “Para-transit took a hit too . . . We started enforcing medical eligibility more strictly. Our medical professionals were reminded of the existing rules and criteria.”

Other changes included re-assessing eligibility on a trip-by-trip basis and steering participants to subways and buses.

The crackdown is not sitting well with rejected applicants.

“What’s the sense in having Access-A-Ride if they keep you from getting it?” said Rita Gibson, 65, who claims to suffer from a herniated disc and uses a walker to get around.

Click here for the complete report.

I admit that a big part of me feels this sensational journalism which would be nothing new considering the source. I have covered the Access-A-Ride fraud issues that were running rampant in the past.

While the article makes no mention of fraud, I would not be surprised if some of the denied requests fell under that category. This is a program which no matter how you slice it is a money pit for the agency. The services are warranted but better policing needs to be put in place. If only a different company could run it & leave the MTA to handle the many other responsibilities it has.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Comments

I am one of those who have suddenly been denied Access-a-ride. I suffer from degenerative disk disease have two knee replacements, other health problems and chronic pain syndrome. I am 70 and now home-bound with no access to my doctors or to the swimming pool – that exercise being the main reason I can at times get down my apartment hall without a cane. Five years ago I went to an interview in a reasonably accessible part of my borough to be re-certified for Access-a-ride. I was interviewed made to walk and climb a few stairs. I had one of the obvious tremors to my arm which was noted. MY medications were examined and I showed them some my old medical tests MRIS etc. and my history. I was approved and got my new card within a short time.
By the beginning of last year I had spent a year in agonizing pain because my left knee had become so arthritic it was fixated into a bent position dragging behind me and aggravating my disk problems. My Previous orthopedic surgeon was unwilling to replace it because of my other various health problems. I spent most of the year taking pain medications trying to exercise to keep up my strength and found another surgeon who didn’t care about my other health problems. ). I had just had the desperately needed knee replacement and received the letter that I had to re-up for Access-a-ride. I was still in a rather slow recovery but not in real fear when I went to my interview.
I had heard rumors about changes in access-a-ride but, truthfully was too tired and discouraged to run around getting some elaborate doctor stuff from about 5 different doctors for this interview . At the interview I me a young woman who said hello and just told me to walk down the 50 foot hall. When I tried to tell her I didn’t want to carry my heavy purse and bag with my meds and doctor documentation she demanded I do so. She was aggressive and angry when I told her I usually didn’t carry this stuff with me but put it in a little cart and refused to take the shopping bag. (I have pressure on the nerve in my neck from a bone spur and degenerative disk as well a torn shoulder cuff.)
Later when the pain made me unsteady and I leaned against the wall for support she told me to stop doing that. When I told her I was in pain she just continued to repeat, “You have a new knee – you CAN WALK!” When I mentioned that a local organization had been sending me a helper once a week she was shocked and said, “Who’s doing that – you don’t need that!!” I was so confused at that time I couldn’t bring the agency’s name to mind and sort of stuttered out an answer to which she just shrugged and repeated, “I don’t see why they should do that,” and returned to lead me down the hall where I saw an elderly man bruised with IV marks trying to maneuver his walker and pull open (Unsuccessfully) the very heavy metal door to enter. A young worker in the building helped him in.
As I sat down to wait for my dismissal I asked the old man, “Do you also have degenerative arthritis.” In a very fragile voice he told me that he had that and cancer and was going to chemo. He said he had never had to have a person to person interview. I was horrified at this and the obviously crippled woman in a wheelchair whose husband had to navigate over the rocky dirt driveway to the deserted factory building where access-a-ride in Staten Island has decided to send us “con artist” pseudo disabled people (if you can find this place – my friend who drove me mistakenly followed the MapQuest internet instructions and we got lost for over an hour – a worker in the adjoining shipyard directed us to this horror
It took Access-a-ride 2 ½ months to send me a denial during which I lived in limbo afraid to go back to my doctors in Manhattan for pain therapy as I knew I had to have access back and forth. When, in early September I called to find out what my status was I was told in a very cold voice that I had to wait. I was then told something I did not know that even though my card had an expiration date of August 2014 I was entitled to temporary service until November 30th 2014. I told the woman I had not known this and her response was a curt, “Well NOW YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD HAVE CALLED EARLIER!”
My appeal dismissed my doctor’s letter which stated I needed Access-a-ride as not being specific enough (I was told to get more specific letters from doctors and am still not sure what this means.) When I questioned the fact that my since deceased brother who was crippled and wheelchair bound for the last ten years of his life had not had to go through this terrible humiliating process I was told by the young female lawyer in a very cynical tone, “Oh you’d be surprised at the ones we accepted in wheelchairs, then looked out the window and saw them get up and run across the street.” (I’d like to know how many times she may have seen this as I imagine the ones shrewd enough to carry this con so far would hardly be stupid enough to do this under her window. Also I have been using Access-a-ride now since 2001 and have taken hundreds of trips and most of the people whom I have encountered and spoken to in those very long often excruciating rides were obviously very ill or unable to walk. A few times I did notice the disability looked rather mild but I know you cannot see brain tumors, epilepsy or other conditions by sight.)
Later during this farce of an appeal – after a completely unsuccessful plea on my part to at least be allowed more time to collect doctor data (still not sure what is the process – do I have to start all over again with a new access-a-ride application) the same lawyer remarked as I was about to leave, “Well, you can thank all those con artists and scammers out there for you having to go through this!” I was told that even if a person is permanently disabled (as diagnosed by their doctors) they still have to go through the person to person walk/stairs/interview to prove they no longer have the disability)
I am still in shock but so angry. I am now becoming aware of what is happening and there are obviously many people out there sicker and even more incapacitated, than I – suffering old age confusion who cannot exercise their rights – gather all the “specific” documentation. Access-a-ride is not a gift given to those who can easily bend the system (as they would like to say) but a federally mandated program to help those of us who cannot do what others who are stronger can. I am looking to find an organization or to organize some of us to fight this ridiculous new glitch in our already very difficult lives.

I have had the worst experience of my life with Access-A-Ride. I applied numerous times over a period of years until I was finally accepted in 2005 and then again in 2006. I have suffered most of my life with PTSD with severe anxiety despite being in treatment. While I was eligible I decided to go to college and better my life. Three years through college and they decided to deny my re-certification in 2009. I was given my life back only to have it taken away again. I have appealed my case a few times. My mother came with me and we couldn’t believe what they were telling me. I was 43 yrs. old at the time and they were telling me that since I took the bus while in High School I was not eligible to use their service. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. By the way I never took the bus to school I walked, so they lied right to my face. I complained to the division of human rights and they did nothing for me. The president of AAR told them that I am on medication so I don’t need their service. I suppose he has a medical degree and knows exactly how I feel? Their lawyer who I don’t even think passed the bar because she was grasping at straws said the bus stop was in front of my building. It does not mean I can walk there,get on and ride the bus. They made ridiculous accusations that were not true. I have also contacted my congressman, the mayor and governor. No one cares and no one wants to help. Access -A- Ride acts as if they are giving you such a wonderful service to use. The fact is I was desperate. I cannot tell you how many drivers I had that were completely out of their minds. They obviously do not do background checks. The drivers also have left me stranded numerous times and lied and said they had gone to pick me up and I wasn’t at my location. Gee, where would a person with PTSD who cannot take a train or a bus go? They offer a service but do not give it to you. The whole thing in my opinion is a crooked business filled with liars who are out for themselves. They have no compassion for people with disabilities at all.

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