Paralyzed California toddler denied wheelchair by insurer

The mother of a toddler paralyzed from the waist down since birth is “heartbroken” because she says she can’t convince her insurance company that her son needs a wheelchair to learn how to be more independent.

Aubrey Allred, 29, of Kingsbury, Calif., told Friday she wanted to get her son, 2, a wheelchair, but insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross refused because he is too young. The boy, Crue, zooms around now in a Zipzac, a miniature wheelchair that sits low to the ground and gets stuck on sidewalk cracks. Mom said Crue is ready for an upgraded set of wheels, if only the insurer would relent.

“I was heartbroken,” Allred said of the denial. “I probably cried for two days. They are saying my son is not old enough to be independent. I feel just because my son has a disability doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to be independent.”

"They are saying my son is not old enough to be independent."

— Aubrey Allred, mother of toddler who needs wheelchair

Crue was born with spina bifida, but that has not stopped him from trying to have as normal a life as possible. She is a stay-at-home mom with another son, Easton, 8. Her husband Joe is a lineman for an electric utility company.

Allred said her son, named after the band Motley Crue, is a special boy with a “sweet spirit about him.” She and her husband are determined to show the boy that he can do whatever he wants in life. That has included taking him to play sled ice hockey and other sports. Once they went rock-climbing.

“He was a little afraid at first, but when he saw everyone else, he was bound and determined to climb,” she said. “It was just awesome to see him do it and to see all the people who were there cheering him on.”

Allred said Anthem rejected their claim for a wheelchair in October. “They’re telling me he’s 2, stick him in a stroller and he’ll be fine,” she said. She said she was also told Crue would be eligible for a wheelchair when he is 5.

Allred said a resubmitted claim was rejected a few weeks ago, prompting her to go on Facebook to voice her frustration.

“Yes, Crue is only 2 but his mobility shouldn’t be determined by a doctor that works for the insurance company who has never met him,” she wrote. “Crue is such an amazing and determined little boy, and is capable of a lot more than they think.”

A close friend who saw the Facebook post started a GoFundMe page to help raise the $6,000 needed to get Crue a wheelchair. By Friday, 162 people had chipped in more than $8,800. The Zipzac cost $1,100, an expense not covered by insurance.

“It’s amazing,” Allred said of the donations. “I get teary-eyed thinking about it.”

Anthem is blaming Allred’s doctor for failing submit necessary documentation in a timely fashion.

“Our records reflect that claim was denied because their doctor, despite efforts by Anthem to obtain this information, did not provide necessary documentation before the legal deadline to process a claim expired,” spokesman Darrel Ng said in an email to

Ng said Allred can appeal the decision and can also ask state regulators to investigate.

Allred disputed Anthem’s explanation. She said she would continue to fight on behalf of her son.

“I will appeal,” she said. “It’s not right what they did.”

Visit the GoFundMe page here.