The following article appeared Aug 10, 2016 on the OTDA.NY.gov website.
August 10, 2016 – The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance today announced that more than $8.2 million has been awarded to help provide legal assistance to people who have been denied federal disability benefits.
The funding is being awarded through the Disability Advocacy Program to 11 organizations to provide legal representation to people whose disability benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance, have been denied or may be discontinued. The funding ensures that applicants will have legal advocates as they continue to seek disability benefits by moving through the difficult federal appeals process.
“Helping those who are eligible receive disability benefits will improve their financial situation while reducing associated costs to the State and local governments,” said Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts. “The Disability Advocacy Program is a successful and cost-effective part of our overall efforts to assist disabled New Yorkers.”
Not-for-profit legal services corporations, not-for-profit agencies serving the disabled and local departments of social services provide these services, with the goal of reversing the initial decision and acquiring approval for these federally-funded benefits for the applicants. Without this assistance, these individuals would otherwise be dependent on State- and locally-funded programs for support and care.
From July 2014 through June 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, 73 percent of the cases that received legal representation in New York were awarded federal disability benefits. Nationally, just 45 percent of cases successfully appeal.
More than $17.3 million in retroactive federal benefit payments for New York clients were generated during that year. New York State and local counties were able to recover nearly $4 million in public assistance payments to clients while they awaited federal benefits, while avoiding more than $5.2 million in ongoing public assistance benefits for clients who successfully obtained federal disability benefits during that time period.
More than $450,000 was also awarded to the Empire Justice Center to provide statewide legal support and administrative services for the Disability Advocacy Program.
People whose applications for disability benefits are denied are notified by the federal government how to obtain legal services through the Disability Advocacy Program, and can also be referred to the program by their local department of social services.
The Legal Aid Society of Rockland County was awarded $105,323.
To find out more about the Legal Aid Society and how you can support their work, call (845) 634-3627, or visit their website at www.legalaidrockland.org.