DDOT bus driver who contracted COVID-19 pleads with city to restore benefits

Posted at 10:10 PM, Dec 29, 2020

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A Detroit bus driver is reaching out for help after being overrun with medical bills due to his battle with COVID-19. He is temporarily off the job and hoping the city will restore his benefits, which were cut off months ago.

DeJuan Brown is recovering from a nightmare due to COVID-19. While he’s doing better, he says his benefits have fallen short leaving him in dire straits.

“This was back when it first started so I was one of the first victims,” Brown said.

With 23 years of service as a Detroit bus driver, he thought he’d seen it all. But now, he says he was blindsided by both the impact of the illness and the personal cost it would take on him.

“Went to three hospitals – Beaumont, Receiving and ultimately U of M came and got me,” he said.

The 44-year-old Detroiter would spend weeks hospitalized, some of that time on a ventilator, only to be released to face a long journey to recovery. He also says his benefits were cut off after 20 weeks, leaving him behind thousands on doctors' bills.

“I’ve been waiting since August for a determination on long term disability or social security," Brown said. "Social security denied me so now I’m waiting on paperwork.”

He still hopes to fully recover and come back to work but says his focus right now is on digging his way out of a financial hole.

“It’s been hard surviving from August to now with no real money,” Brown said. Some donations to him are being made online. In the meantime, the city says he could be eligible for long term disability with bills to be paid retroactively. They’re promising to update us tomorrow.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.