(WTXF) - A former New Jersey professor is HIV positive and battling stage 4 cancer. Still, the state denied his disability pension and now, his house is in foreclosure. FOX 29’s Bill Anderson says this story really makes you question the decisions that bureaucracy, business and government sometimes say they're forced to make.
But he found a group of Keith Carson’s old friends are trying to bring light to his dark times, For Goodness Sake.
Carson’s pension, home and ultimately his life are at stake.
"Twice, I had blackouts while driving,” Carson said. “I couldn't drive anymore and I was required to have a car for work. June 4th of 2014 was my last day at work."
In 2014, the feds approved Carson almost immediately for Social Security Disability since he was suffering from two forms of cancer.
On the other hand, New Jersey took much longer to review his request. Ultimately, the state denied it, saying he was not permanently disabled. Carson appealed and the state actually acknowledged his stage 4 lung cancer made him permanently disabled, but still refused to give him access to his pension.
"They turned it down a second time,” Carson explained, “saying that even though I'm now permanently and totally disabled, I wasn't at the time I went out from work."
Now, he can’t pay his mortgage and he faces foreclosure, unless he comes up with $30,000 in back payments.
He has now outlived his prognosis and is trying to stay optimistic, but admits possible eviction is taking its toll.
"I really believe if I had to move out of here I wouldn't survive that," he said.
Keith’s pension battle continues but there may be help saving his home.
Friends from college who own a restaurant in East Passyunk got together and decided they were going to help any way they could.
One said, “If it had been an anonymous person and I heard this story I would've been compelled by it. But then to actually know the guy, to have spent time with him, it was impossible for me and all of the friends from college who were involved in this it’s impossible for us to ignore.”
They hadn’t had real contact in years, but they launched a GoFundMe page, so the effort to save Keith's house is underway.
It has a long way to go. So far, the fund raised about $12,000 of $33,000 requested, but friends say watching people respond has been encouraging.
"It’s very difficult to put ourselves in Keith's shoes, but we could easily be in those shoes, and I think this is what a community does,” one said. “If we're really a community this is what a community is for.”
As Bill Anderson put it, we can't control a government denying a pension -- or a bank foreclosing on a man with a terminal illness -- but Keith's friends believe we can control if we choose to help someone in need.