Obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a time-consuming and stressful experience. Two out of every three applicants initially are denied. Positive thinking and daily exercise help Richard Velasquez to cope with Parkinson’s disease. After being denied SSDI twice, he found Coverage on the Internet. Read how Coverage did everything over the phone for Mr. Velasquez.
The comfort of an income makes Mr. Velasquez optimistic about his future.
Television Producer Celebrates Daily Victories After Coverage Intervenes
Sherman Oaks, California — By nature, Richard Velasquez is a positive man who fully understands the mind and body connection. Twenty-one years ago, when the California native was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he didn’t accept his condition without a fight.
He embraced a positive attitude and a daily exercise routine. “I work at keeping myself positive; exercise has been a lifesaver for me since my diagnosis,” the long-term television producer said. “Exercise works on endorphins, and I know I am doing something good for my body. I like the results.”
Mr. Velasquez added, “Parkinson’s depletes all of your energy because it is a neurological disease and it zaps your strength—I counter it with tons of physical exercise and training.”
Mr. Velasquez, 62, explained that no one in his family has the disease, and he isn’t sure why it happened to him. “Knowing I have this progressive disease can be depressing if I let it get to me, but I don’t dwell on it.” He added that he has an older brother who became a quadriplegic after a car accident.
“My brother can use his hands to type, but all he has is hand and shoulder movement. When I think I have problems, I think about Daniel. He is an inspiration,” he stated.
After graduation from the University of California-Los Angeles, Mr. Velasquez started working on a live morning talk show called “AM Los Angeles” starring Regis Philbin. Because of his promising future, Mr. Velasquez was selected as one of 10 junior trainees for a producers program at Paramount Studios, and worked on “Bosom Buddies” where he met his first wife, actress Wendie Jo Sperber. The couple had two children.
“Bosom Buddies” led to Mr. Velasquez meeting his eventual mentor, Peter Brennan, creator of “A Current Affair.” Through Mr. Brennan, Mr. Velasquez found work on a number of court shows. “I became a production expert on court shows and produced the first ‘Judge Judy Show’,” he said. “It was really interesting because she took like a duck to water and really immersed herself in that show.” Mr. Velasquez also produced “The People’s Court” and “Judge Joe Brown.”
Show business drew the native Californian to New York City for 18 months until his show was canceled. Mr. Velasquez remembers this as a low point in his life—with his Parkinson’s progressing, the mother of his children and ex-wife dying from breast cancer and his work intermittent.
“But what can you do?” he asked. “You have to survive. You have to keep going. I have children that I love, and I want to be around for them.”
As he became less able to work because of the advancing disease, Mr. Velasquez accelerated his exercise routine to 90 minutes a day.
“Normally, I like walking. Living here I am able to take three or four different routes, walking up and down the hills. I also go to the gym and use weights,” he said. Mr. Velasquez explained that if he is doing something positive he is also warding off depression that often comes with a debilitating disease. “Lots of people get depressed about illness and they get stuck in it, and some people even become immobilized by their depression.”
Mr. Velasquez felt it was time to seek SSDI, although he was discouraged when a friend shared horror stories about getting benefits. After being denied by SSDI twice, Mr. Velasquez found Coverage on the Internet and reached out in December 2009.
“I was about to get an attorney and then I found Coverage,” he said. “Coverage has a high percentage of getting people the benefits they deserve.”
Indeed, Coverage successfully represents 98 percent of applicants who remain in the SSDI process until a final decision is issued. The Illinois-based firm leads the nation in SSDI client representation. Founded in 1984, Coverage has helped more than 150,000 people with serious disabilities receive their SSDI benefits.
“What I really liked about Coverage was that they did everything on the phone. I didn’t have to meet with an attorney,” Mr. Velasquez pointed out.
He received his SSDI award just one year after Coverage took his case in December 2010.
“I was shocked that it happened so quickly. I had been denied twice, and all of a sudden money was deposited into my account.
“Getting my SSDI benefits has given me the comfort of having an income,” he added.
Mr. Velasquez is optimistic for his future, thanks to Coverage and his support system. “I’m really happy now, and I have the wonderful support of my wife and my children and my brother and sisters.
“I really believe in taking care of my physical body and well-being. I would really like to help other Parkinson’s patients in the future.”