LSC Update

Latest news and developments on federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

Impact Stories

A Veteran’s Path to Stability

Recently, an honorably discharged Army veteran who was receiving assistance from a legal aid in an ongoing housing matter expressed concerns about benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The veteran was authorized to receive VA benefits, but because of his mental health issues and homelessness, he hadn’t been able to collect the monthly benefits or stabilize his life.

His legal aid lawyer spent time talking with him and learned that he had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of trauma suffered while actively serving in the Army. The veteran’s legal aid lawyer gathered both the medical and military evidence necessary to prove the veteran’s medical condition and that his condition was directly related to his military service. She then helped the veteran supplement his application with a detailed affidavit describing the trauma and sent everything to the VA as part of a comprehensive claim.

Simultaneously, she connected the veteran with housing and medical support services for veterans. The VA subsequently approved his application and found him eligible for 100% service-connected benefits. This means that he now receives VA healthcare, which has meant that he is in consistent and supportive counseling. In addition to the monthly payment of $2,906, which is an annual income of $34,872, the veteran also received a lump sum back award of $49,000, for all of the months that he had been waiting for the VA to resolve his claim. As a result, the veteran is now living in safe and stable housing and receiving ongoing medical care. He is now also over-income for legal aid’s services.

Legal aids across Ohio daily help veterans address benefits, housing issues, medical care and consumer matters.

A Child and a Medical-Legal Partnership

In 2015, a single mother of two took her infant son and first grade son to the baby’s well-baby visit at their local children’s hospital. The hospital houses a medical-legal partnership with their local legal aid. As the visit was scheduled on a Tuesday morning, the doctor asked the mother why her first grader was with her and not in school. The mother explained that the first grader had been expelled the day before for having a plastic, neon green water gun in his backpack at school.

The mother explained that the child had received the water gun as a prize at a birthday party the Saturday before and had taken it to show friends in the after school program he attended. However, because of the school’s “zero tolerance” policy on weapons, the boy was expelled from 1st Grade for 180 days for having the toy in his backpack. The doctor referred the woman and her son to the legal aid lawyer on site at the hospital supporting the medical-legal partnership. The legal aid lawyer reached out to the school on the child’s behalf. Within a day, legal aid had arranged for the child to return to 1st Grade without penalty.

Eleven medical-legal partnerships operate in Ohio ensuring healthy living environments, supportive education and good health for Ohio’s children and families.

Helping Young Parents Address their Opiate Addiction

Earlier this year, a young couple in their mid-twenties realized that they risked losing custody of their two-year-old daughter if they didn’t address their opiate addictions. The couple had struggled with heroin, but had refused treatment until they realized that they needed to do so to be able to care for their daughter safely and appropriately.

When beds became available at an in-patient treatment facility that would allow the young mother to bring her daughter with her as she received treatment and counseling, the couple found that they could not pay for treatment without Medicaid. However, Medicaid approval was going to take too long for approval to ensure that the bed space would remain available. In response, the couple reached out to their local legal aid office. A legal aid attorney was able to get an expedited approval of their Medicaid applications and they are now both participating in in-patient treatment for their addictions. Their daughter is with them and they are learning to work together as a stable and addiction-free family.

Around the state, legal aid helps those suffering from the opiate crisis access appropriate health care to treat their addiction and return their lives to those of productive citizens.