A 31-year-old woman died of an epileptic seizure in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Feb. 17, less than six months after the federal government cut her benefits (video below).
Since 2015, Amy Schnelle used four anti-seizure drugs that kept her seizures away, but in September 2016 the Social Security Administration stopped sending her disability checks, notes WATE.
Social Security decided that Amy could return to work, which meant the loss of her disability checks to buy her medication. Amy believed the loss of the medication would prevent her from working.
"I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I’m off of my medicine for a week," Amy told the news station in September 2016. "I could roll into seizures."
Amy appealed Social Security's ruling, but was not able to buy her four powerful medications during the appeal time.
Three of the four drug companies that manufactured the medications gave Amy the drugs she needed, but she still lacked the fourth.
Sylvia Schnelle, Amy's mom, told WATE in March that her daughter had a seizure relapse in October 2016:
She started a big whirlwind of seizures. She had a whole lot of seizures because one of the medicines didn’t come through...
Things changed drastically. She had seizure after seizure after seizure. Once you stop your medicine so abruptly, you go into a tailspin of seizures and you don’t come out of it.
Amy wrote to Republican Rep. Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee last fall to convince the government to restore her benefits, which it did in January 2017.
But in February, Amy texted Sylvia to tell her that she had a "bad" seizure. Amy asked Sylvia, who lives in Dandridge, to "please" come to Knoxville.
"Amy was on her stomach, and she had already died," Sylvia recalled. "She died from a seizure."
Sylvia believes Amy has gone to a better place, but lays blame on Social Security for not listening to her daughter.
"I don’t think my Amy would have died if there wasn’t a cut in her medicine," Sylvia stated.
Sylvia said her daughter never fully recovered from the gap in time when she did not have all of her medication.
Social Security said in September 2016 that there was "no indication" that the dizziness Amy had felt "seriously affected her activities."
WATE reported in September that Amy started receiving federal disability from Social Security, and assistance from Medicare six years ago; she lost both.
Amy told the news station how the four medications helped her: "It’s been awesome. I get a taste of being independent, get to walk around without someone getting worried. I haven’t been able to do that for 15 years."
Amy explained why she had to quit her factory job: "I'd bite my tongue. There were times where I bumped my head. It would take me hours to come back."
"These are the grand mal seizures where she’ll jerk her head and have blood or foam coming out of her mouth," Sylvia added.
"I can't work if I have seizures," Amy said. "It’s a catch-22."