Seattle Community Law Center Programs
In 2006, we launched the Disabled Homeless Advocacy Project, the first and only project of its kind in the region, to proactively identify and assist disabled homeless individuals who have "slipped through the cracks" of the state and federal safety net programs that provide cash and medical assistance to the disabled and to help them obtain benefits to which they are entitled and that will help them to move toward financial and medical stability. DHAP staff and volunteers hold clinics at local homeless shelters, and may provide information, advice, advocacy, and direct legal representation to qualified individuals throughout Social Security's application and appeals process.
The Social Security Advocacy Project primarily works to prevent wrongful termination and reduction of the client's federal benefits. This is done by providing legal advice, advocacy, referral and direct legal representation to low-income individuals before the Social Security Administration. SSAP prioritizes cases for which representation by a private attorney is not available.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
SCLC is able to quickly respond to our clients' requests for help.
Mr. R is chronically homeless and has been receiving SSI since he was 13 years old. He has profound symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and developmental delay. During a regularly scheduled visit to the Chief Seattle Club for SCLC's intake hours, the SCLC attorney met with Mr. R, and learned that Social Security had sent him a notice indicating that they were going to stop his benefits because he is "no longer disabled."
This finding was based on a false medical report claiming that Mr. R was actively using alcohol and that he had been recently arrested for possession of drugs.
When SCLC first met with Mr. R he said he did not know what he was going to do, he felt hopeless. Mr. R explained that he had not consumed alcohol in over a year and that he had been arrested for possession of marijuana because someone on the street had asked him to hold their backpack. Due to limitations on his mental capacity, Mr. R is very vulnerable on the street and it is highly likely that he was taken advantage of by the person who actually owned the marijuana.
SCLC immediately appealed the decision for Mr. R, and began connecting this client to services that would help build his case. SCLC staff escorted Mr. R to his mental evaluations and doctor appointments to be sure he engaged in the services. As he walked through the maze of hallways in the medical building with the SCLC staff person, Mr. R said, "I would have never found this place on my own."
The client won the case, and Mr. R will continues to receive SSI.
SCLC is the only specialty non-profit legal service provider that assists individuals with federal benefit issues. Please support our project to assist in the creation and maintenance of economic and medical stability for individuals with disabilities facing the risk or reality of homelessness.