Ohio resident Kimberly Thompson was recuperating from a month-long, medically induced coma when she was told that she'd no longer be receiving welfare payments. A letter from the county reportedly explained that because she hadn't informed them that she was in a coma, she was being kicked off of welfare.
According to NBC News, Thompson, 43, who spent years scraping by while raising a teenage daughter, applied for Medicaid earlier this year after being unable to work due to a hysterectomy she had in May. After the surgery, Thompson contracted an infection that led to gradual organ failure. She was placed in a coma while doctors worked to save her, and when she awoke she learned that she'd been cut off from $700 per month in government assistance.
"They told me I'd lost the benefits because I didn't go to class," Thompson told NBC News
, referring to a job-training program she'd enrolled in when she began receiving Medicaid, welfare and food stamps. "How are you supposed to go to class when you're in a coma?"
Because she was unable to work in the first few months after her coma, Thompson resorted to sleeping on couches and spending time living with relatives. Her teenage daughter lived with her father during that time.
Thompson said she is confused as to why her Medicaid caseworker didn't inform her welfare caseworker of her condition; a problem that a county spokesperson admitted has affected others before.
After a hearing officer ordered that Thompson's benefits be reinstated, she received the money that she missed out on after being cut off and is now receiving food stamps. NBC News says that the county is "still deciding whether to reinstate welfare payments in the future, since her daughter does not currently live with her."
"If I'd had that money after the coma, if I'd had it all along, I could have had a place for me and my daughter, but now because she doesn't live with me it's impossible to get us back together until I can get work again," Thompson said.