Funding Continued Needs of People with Brain and Spinal Injuries
Brian suffered from traumatic brain injury when he was 16 years old.
James experiences brain damage and subsequent complications from an injury when he was just 1 year old.
Tyrone broke his neck as a teenager, losing his ability to walk.
To help with ongoing recovery needs, these 3 have all received grants from the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission.
Creation of the Trust Fund
In November 1998, Georgians overwhelmingly voted to create a Trust Fund for brain and spinal injuries, paid for by a surcharge on drunk driving fines. According to Chairman of the Board of the Brain Injury Association of Georgia, David Goudelock, the legislation “was meant to fill the gaps in the system where there was no one else providing resources."
This legislation created the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission.
Before the Trust Fund, people with brain and spinal injuries could rely on insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid to help with the initial hospital bills, but nothing past that. There wasn’t any financial support for them to lead a successful life with the continued effects of their injury. The commission’s founding members — made up of people who had experienced these difficulties first-hand — set out to create an agency that would address the needs of people with injuries beyond the first critical moments.
Apply for Assistance
To receive assistance from the Trust Fund, you must be a Georgian with a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, and you must have exhausted all other sources of funding. If you can’t fill out the application yourself, a family member, friend, or guardian can complete it for you.
You can apply to receive funds for goods and services from categories like rehabilitative services, transportation, and personal support services. Combined, your funds cannot exceed a lifetime cap of $10,000, except for a $15,000 grant towards a modified van.
Brain & Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission
2 Peachtree St. NW, Suite 26-426
Atlanta GA 30303
Here’s what the process looks like:
You apply for funds.
The Distribution Committee reviews your application and makes a recommendation.
The Commission votes to adopt or not adopt the committee’s recommendation.
The Governor’s Office approves or denies the final recommendations.
You should hear back in 10 weeks or more from when the Trust Fund received your application.
By applying, you are not guaranteed to receive funds from the Commission. About 75% of eligible applicants who apply receive a grant, and are selected based on the Commission’s selection guidelines.
How the Trust Fund is Funded
So how does the Trust Fund collect money for those in need? When someone is convicted of driving under the influence or reckless driving, they have to pay an additional 10% of the fine that the judge gives them. This money then makes its way to the Trust Fund.
Since the Trust Fund’s creation in 1999, it has received as much as $2,250,724 in a single year.
Donate to Support Injured Georgians
A great way to help injured Georgians is to send the Trust Fund Commission a tax-deductible donation. Your donation will help fund additional grants to eligible Georgians.
Send checks and money orders, made payable to the “Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission,” to:
Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission
2 Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Make sure to include a donation letter with the check or money order indicating that the donation should be used to support the mission of the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission. They’ll acknowledge your donation with a letter if you provide your name and address.
If a specific person has touched your life, you can make your donation in memory or honor of them. Include the name of the person you’re honoring and their address, or their family member’s address, and the Trust Fund Commission will notify them of your donation.
Call the Commission at 1-888-233-5760 or 404-651-5112 with donation questions.
Trust Fund Success Stories
Remember the 3 people with injuries who we introduced earlier?
In the years since his brain injury, Brian has significantly improved his attention, memory, and posture with therapeutic horseback riding and cognitive therapy.
James has been able to stay at home, instead of moving to a nursing home, with the help of accommodations like a roll-in shower.
And Tyrone has gained back some independence with driver's education and training from rehabilitation specialists.
Each of these stories is made possible by the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission.