MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Maryville man has waited for over a year to learn if he’s eligible for Social Security benefits after suffering a stroke.

Rick Rose had a debilitating stroke 16 months ago and has never fully recovered. 14 months ago, he applied for disability. He and his wife are frustrated that it’s taken so long to get an answer from Social Security Administration.

The federal agency works slowly due to the backlog of people across the country applying for disability. However, what bothers his wife, Robbin Rose, is the run around she gets when she calls. She is a nurse and is familiar with the medical system and has to reach out due to his condition.

The 60-year-old former Denso worker almost died in April of 2022. He spent five days in intensive care, then months in rehabilitation.

Rick, a well-known mandolin player, had been an active member of a Blount County bluegrass group for years. Today, his time is spent with his family playing board games. He doesn’t get out of the house much.

“I can’t remember anything until about three days after I had a stroke,” said Rick.

Robbin sent his application for disability 14 months ago in June. She’s also sent numerous medical records from Rick’s doctors to Social Security.

“Every time I call, I get a hold of someone different with different information. We still don’t have an answer of approval or denial,” said Robbin. “Even though we have insurance, I’m still trying to pay off some of the hospitals and some of the doctors, a little bit at a time each month. I work, but it’s not enough.”

With mounting bills, Rick wants to see his disability come through. He said that it would relieve a lot of pressure to have those medical bills paid off.

“I owe a lot,” said Rick. “Social Security would help a lot.”

Robbin said when she called Social Security about two months ago, a representative provided disturbing information.

“At that time, she told me I should have brought him in June of last year, instead of doing it online. But no one had ever told me that. She said she would send the email to whoever makes the decisions. So that I could try to get an answer,” said Robbin.

WATE got in touch with Social Security. A spokesperson wrote back: “We contacted Mr. Rose and his family to provide an update on his case. We’ve updated our records and are scheduling additional medical exams as soon as possible. We will keep him and his family updated.”

Soon, Rick and his wife will have an answer. Robbin said a representative from Social Security called them to set up an evaluation for Rick next week, and a comprehensive exam is scheduled for September 22. Robbin said the Knoxville Social Security Office spent 45 minutes on the phone with Rick determining whether he’s eligible for additional benefits. Information is also being sent to the state to determine Rick’s degree of disability.