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On the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic (and related financial crisis), the need for pro bono assistance with administrative hearings has never been higher. Unemployment insurance, public benefits, and housing subsidies are the lifelines that are allowing millions to put food on the table, keep a roof over their families, and survive the greatest economic depression since the Great Depression.
Clients who have been denied or are at risk of losing unemployment insurance, public benefits, and/or housing subsidies are often unrepresented in what can be a confusing and adversarial process.
On the unemployment insurance front, applications have skyrocketed and reached an all-time high, and the new, federal pandemic-related insurance provisions have complicated an already complex landscape. The interaction of income replacement and public benefits has led to new rules, compounding the confusion around recent, significant changes to key public benefits programs, including Social Security, CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal and In-Home Support Services. Further, Housing Authorities frequently seek to deny and revoke housing subsidies for a number of reasons, including providing misinformation, failure to report changes in income, failure to pay rent or utilities, etc.
Meanwhile, legal aid services who have suffered funding problems and staffing cuts in recent years are facing reduced capacity and are unable to meet the unprecedented demand to represent clients in these cases. Unfortunately, there are many individuals who have been unlawfully deprived of critical benefits: through denials of unemployment insurance, discontinuances from public benefits, revocations of a housing subsidy. This vulnerable population cannot navigate the administrative hearing process on their own. As a result, low-income families find themselves on the brink of economic instability, hunger, and homelessness.
This training is designed to help mitigate the crisis faced by low-income families everywhere by providing attorneys with a basic understanding of common issues and strategies in providing pro bono assistance with administrative hearings. The program will focus on California law, but will also cover many topics such as due process and other rights that apply nationwide; therefore, advocates from other forums would benefit from the information and attending the program.
What You Will Learn
- An overview of administrative hearings low-income clients most frequently need involving:
- State public benefits, including CalWORKs, CalFresh, Medi-Cal;
- Federal public benefits, including Supplemental Security Income;
- Federally assisted housing programs, including public housing and Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP or "Section 8");
- Unemployment and state disability insurance claims and overpayments;
- Best practices and common advocacy strategies, preparation, and procedures for administrative hearings, including:
- Obtaining evidence: informal and formal discovery;
- Drafting position statements/hearing briefs;
- Presenting your case at hearing;and
- Alternatives: Informal resolution.
- Rehearings and further appeals
- California law and practice specifics
All attorneys interested in or currently assisting pro bono clients with administrative matters through representation or in clinical settings; law firm pro bono coordinators, managers and partners; legal clinic faculty and law students; and public interest and nonprofit legal services attorneys and staff would benefit from attending this program.