Benefits Project advocates help individuals obtain the assistance they need to stabilize their income and move toward self-sufficiency as possible. Advocates help the disabled obtain Social Security, SSI, and APTD benefits and access to health care through Medicare and Medicaid. The Project also works for improvements in the APTD/Medicaid system.
NHLA attorney and paralegal advocates represent clients in a variety of public benefit issues including:
• Food Stamps
• Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
• Unemployment Compensation
• Local/Town Welfare
We also represent persons with disabilities to obtain and maintain federal and state benefits such as:
• Social Security
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled (APTD)
If you need help with a benefits issue, contact the NHLA office nearest you. Read our Success Stories
Federal Court Approves Settlement of Class Action – 2008 Brings Promise of Timely Decisions on Medicaid Applications. On March 18, 2008, the Federal District Court approved a Final Order which requires New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) within 180 days to start making disability decisions within 90 days or to explain what unusual circumstances prevented a timely determination. DHHS must report back about its progress and share monitoring information with lawyers for the Plaintiffs who brought the case. DHHS would notify Medicaid disability applicants about their right to an administrative fair hearing whenever decisions take longer than 90 days.
“This outcome is a victory for all disabled New Hampshire residents who need help,” says Ben Mortell, lead counsel for the Plaintiffs. “I’m very pleased we were able to settle this case quickly so that DHHS can move forward on resolving the delays and quickly grant benefits to people in desperate need. The class action settlement also allows us to make sure that the delay problem is really fixed.”
New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA) and the Disabilities Rights Center (DRC) represented the three NH residents who filed this case. Under federal law, DHHS is supposed to make decisions about a person’s Medicaid eligibility within 90 days unless there are unusual circumstances. However, it would often take over a year to make a decision about these vital benefits. Individuals may go without medical treatment or prescription medications during this time, or use money needed for basic necessities such as housing, food, or utilities. The three Plaintiffs waited, respectively, over 273 days, 188 days, and 170 days to hear whether they qualified for benefits.
Benefit advocacy in action: NHLA advocate convinces Administrative Law Judge to waive Social Security (SSA) adult disabled child’s $116,000 overpayment.
Disability Benefits Project Leader paralegal Vickie Brooks successfully represented a disabled women deaf from birth by convincing an Administrative Law Judge to waive (forgive) an overpayment of benefits totaling $116,000. The woman only communicates by using American Sign Language. Upon completion of high school her benefits were changed from child Supplement Security Income (SSI) disability benefits to adult disabled children’s benefits. Over the years her father dealt with SSA matters due to her hearing loss. As a young adult she became employed and was overpaid by SSA. Because she did not understand the basis for her benefits, she had not kept SSA updated about her earnings. After SSA notified her that she had been overpaid $116,000 in benefits, she contacted NHLA for help. After accepting the case, paralegal Brooks submitted additional evidence and a Memorandum of Law to SSA. The SSA Administrative Law Judge was persuaded by the legal arguments and new evidence that the disabled woman was not at fault in causing the overpayment and approved her request to waive it.
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