Civil Division: Basic Needs

Finding the way through the benefits system can be complicated and challenging; however, for many people public benefits from county, state or federal government programs are often the only source of household income. Reduction or loss of these benefits can have a devastating effect on their lives.

In 2011, the Basic Needs Assistance Unit of the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, Inc. directly impacted more than 500 residents, including preserved, obtained, or increased income maintenance for 537 residents; assisted 27 residents in health benefits matters; and successfully obtained or preserved unemployment benefits at hearings for 157 residents. The Basic Needs Unit encompasses the following categories of Public Benefits, Disability Advocacy, and Unemployment.

Public Benefits

LASRC’s advocates assist clients whose cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and emergency assistance have been terminated, reduced or denied by the Rockland County Department of Social Services. For families and individuals facing problems with those benefits we provide advice and brief services, engage in informed advocacy on their behalf and represent them in administrative hearings and attend court. We help with:

  • Improperly denied unemployment benefits;
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits;
  • Veterans benefits;
  • Health Insurance (Medicaid, Medicare);
  • Public assistance benefits;
  • Food Stamps;
  • WIC (Women, Infants, Children);
  • Cash assistance;
  • Nutrition assistance;
  • Childcare assistance;
  • Home energy assistance;
  • Prescription assistance.

Disability Advocacy

LASRC advocates provide counsel and advice, assistance with administrative filing, and full representation to adults, children, and their family members, working to obtain and maintain federal benefits such as:

  • Social Security Disability;
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI);

For disabled workers with children, this could also mean cash benefits for their spouses and for their children. We have recovered millions of dollars in back benefits and have secured monthly benefits for our clients.

Disability Advocacy

With the recent increase in the unemployment rate, the LASRC has been inundated with requests for representation at administrative hearings. More and more former employers are contesting our clients’ rights to receive benefits at a time when they need it more than ever. As a result, our advocates work to ensure that as many people as possible obtain and preserves the benefits that they are entitled to.