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MLRI Basic Public Benefits Advocacy Trainings

A series of 11 trainings for legal, social and health services, and community advocates who assist low and moderate-income individuals and families.

MCLE and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) are collaborating to make annual basic public benefits advocacy training more accessible to the many public and private sector individuals and lawyers who assist Massachusetts residents in qualifying for and receiving public benefits.

2016-2017 BASIC PUBLIC BENEFITS ADVOCACY TRAINING SERIES


 

Assisting Families Experiencing Homelessness: Emergency Assistance Shelter & Benefits
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

This program focuses on strategies to assist families experiencing homelessness in accessing and retaining shelter, short-term housing, and services from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Trainers provide an overview of the Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter and services program, including the 2012 restrictions imposed on access to EA shelter. The training also includes advocacy tips regarding the range of issues facing families at-risk or experiencing homelessness as they seek access to EA shelter and the HomeBASE program. The training includes an overview of the system, the application process, denials, terminations, shelter placements, and program requirements. This training is for legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, and community activists who want to learn about the nuts-and-bolts of the EA system and the HomeBASE program.

Faculty:
Kelly B. Turley, MSW, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Lynn
Elizabeth Alfred, Esq., Community Legal Aid, Worcester

Training materials include the most recent edition of the Emergency Assistance Advocacy Guide: A Guide to Emergency Shelter and Rehousing Services for Homeless Families with Children in Massachusetts.

Click here to register

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Unemployment Insurance: Helping Out-of-Work Clients Navigate the Unemployment System
Friday, October 28, 2016
1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Unemployment insurance (UI) is a critical safety net during periods of joblessness. This seminar provides you with the expertise you need to understand the UI system and to help your clients get the UI benefits they are legally entitled. Our expert panel guides you through the entire UI system from eligibility criteria through the appeals process. (Unemployed workers often cannot afford to retain professional services in pursuing their claims, so if you are a non-legal services attorney, you can register to assist someone in need of help, and in doing so, qualify for reduced tuition of $25.)

Faculty:
Margaret E. Monsell, Esq., Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
and others TBA

Training materials include the most recent edition of the Unemployment Advocacy Guide: An Advocate's Guide to Unemployment in Massachusetts.

This training is co-sponsored by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Greater Boston Legal Services, the Volunteer Lawyers Project, and the Labor and Employment Section of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Click here to register

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SSI & SSDI Basics
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Social Security disability programs continue to be a major source of cash and health benefits for individuals with disabilities. However, dealing with a large federal agency can be daunting and overwhelming, especially for an unrepresented claimant. The Basics program begins with an overview of the two disability-based cash benefits programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), with emphasis on eligibility requirements and procedures, including basic disability eligibility standards and non-disability issues such as income, resources, and non-citizen criteria. An explanation of the evidence submission rules revised in 2015 begins the afternoon session, followed by an overview of the appeals process for disability applications. Concluding the program is a review of post-entitlement issues, with special emphasis on the work incentive rules and benefit overpayments. The training is for legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice who are thinking of representing clients before SSA, social and health workers, and community advocates.

Faculty:
Linda L. Landry, Esq., Disability Law Center, Inc., Boston
Svetlana Uimenkova, Esq., Disability Law Center, Inc., Boston

Click here to register

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Income Maximization for the Working Poor (Families and Individuals)
Friday, December 16, 2016
9:15 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

This session is an overview focusing on various supplemental benefits and assistance programs which help working families and individuals to maximize their income and reduce their expenses. The first part is presented in a lecture format and the second part utilizes small break-out groups and case hypotheticals. This training is designed as an overview of benefits. The subject areas are quite broad and this is not an in-depth analysis of any particular program. This training is for new and experienced legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, and community activists who want to learn about or get an update on this subject in order to help their clients. Participants receive detailed materials.

Faculty:
Ellen J. Shachter, Esq., Cambridge & Somerville Legal Services, Cambridge
Laura R. Gallant, Esq., Northeast Justice Center, Lynn

Click here to register

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New Developments in TAFDC, Massachusetts' Cash Assistance Program for Families
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This training is for legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, and community activists who want to learn about the latest changes in TAFDC (Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children)–the cash assistance program for families. The training provides an overview of program rules and information about recent changes. There are also sessions on disability rights, dealing with the time limit and work requirement, and child care.

Faculty:
Deborah Harris, Esq., Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
Sarah Levy, Esq., Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Naomi Meyer, Esq., Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Lisa Bradley, Paralegal, Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Lizbeth Ginsburg, Esq., Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Melanie Malherbe, Esq., Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston

Click here to register

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State & Federal Veterans Benefits
Thursday, January 26, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

This training is for legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, veterans' lay advocates, legislative aides, and anyone else who wants to learn about the basics of state and federal veterans' benefits. The training covers state veterans benefits under M.G.L. c. 115 (administered by the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services), and federal benefits for healthcare, service-connected disability compensation, and non-service-connected pensions (administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs). The session covers the basic application process, eligibility rules for veterans (military discharge status, financial eligibility, disqualifying conditions, refund status), and the disability requirements for benefits. It also covers the basics of filing an appeal and upgrading a less than honorable discharge. Participants receive detailed materials.

Faculty:
Anna Schleelein Richardson, Esq., Co-Director & Chief Counsel, Veterans Legal Services, Boston
Steven J. Connor, Director, Central Hampshire Veterans Services, Northampton
Daniel Nagin, Esq., Clinical Professor and Vice Dean of Experiential and Clinical Education, Legal Services Center and Veterans Clinic at Harvard Law School, Jamaica Plain;
Dana Montalto, Esq., Legal Services Center and Veterans Clinic at Harvard Law School, Jamaica Plain
Betsy Gwin, Esq., Legal Services Center and Veterans Clinic at Harvard Law School, Jamaica Plain

Click here to register

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Health Care Access Programs
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This training is designed to help attendees keep abreast of the many recent changes in health coverage eligibility and enrollment affecting people under age 65. The federal Affordable Care Act has changed the landscape of available programs that offer affordable coverage to low and moderate income people enabling the state to expand Medicaid (MassHealth) coverage and create new forms of subsidized coverage through the Health Insurance Connector for people not eligible for MassHealth or other coverage. The morning program provides an overview of the eligibility requirements for MassHealth and ConnectorCare as well as the Health Safety Net and the Children's Medical Security Plan, and the process for applying and enrolling in coverage. The afternoon program provides troubleshooting tips for resolving common problems informally and through appeals. It also provides an overview of tax issues related to health coverage including penalties for being uninsured, penalty exemptions, and the tax-based income methodology used in MassHealth and the Connector.

This training gives outreach workers, social workers, providers, and advocates an up-to-date nuts-andbolts overview of eligibility issues, and how to assist their patients and clients in becoming enrolled and maintaining coverage.

Faculty:
Neil F. Cronin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
Victoria Pulos, Esq., Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
and others TBA

Click here to register

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CORI: Basics of the Law for Community Providers & Legal Aid Advocates
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

This seminar provides a review of the basics of the law pertaining to criminal offender record information (CORI) and changes in the legal standard for sealing of cases in court as a result of a Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) case in August, 2014.

Massachusetts keeps "CORI" on every individual who has a criminal case in a Massachusetts state court. CORI is recorded and kept on file even if the underlying case is ultimately dismissed or the accused is found not guilty. CORI is used in screening processes by employers, landlords, government agencies, and others. Clients with criminal records face barriers to employment, housing, benefits, and other opportunities for economic stability. The Legislature included protections in the law for individuals with CORI related to job applications and expanded the categories of cases eligible for sealing through the courts in 2010.

This training is for legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, and community activists who want to learn or get a refresher course on the basics of CORI.

Faculty:
Pauline Quirion, Esq., Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Steve Russo, Esq., Legal Advocacy and Resource Center, Boston
Agapi Koulouris, Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJIS), Chelsea
James Mac McCreight, Esq., Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston

Click here to register

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Food Stamps/SNAP
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
(re-scheduled from Thursday, February 9, 2017)
1:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.

The federally funded Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the first line of defense against hunger for thousands of Massachusetts residents. Massachusetts continues to implement policy changes to increase SNAP participation and the value of the monthly benefit. However, individual households often struggle with getting their SNAP applications and recertifications approved at over-burdened local offices. Collecting all the required proofs can be overwhelming for an unrepresented household. Some of the most challenging cases involve the rules for immigrant-headed households, the number and type of proofs required, and how to determine if an elder/disabled or a working household got all the deductions to maximize benefits. This training is designed for legal services and community advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers who work with seniors, persons with disabilities, low-wage workers, and immigrant households. It begins with an overview of the federal Food Stamp/SNAP program, the major policy changes implemented in the past year, and then an in-depth look at the nuts and bolts of eligibility, benefits calculation, and appeal rights.

Faculty:
Patricia J. Baker, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
Vicky Negus, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
and others TBA

Training materials include the 2017 Food Stamp/SNAP Advocacy Guide: An Advocate's Guide to the Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Massachusetts.

Click here to register

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Immigration & Public Benefits
Thursday, March 30, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This training offers the nuts-and-bolts on how immigration status affects eligibility for benefits for non-citizen immigrants and refugees. The morning session covers basic information about immigrants in Massachusetts and their language rights, how immigration status affects public benefits in general, and an overview of the most commonly seen types of immigration status and documents. The afternoon session focuses on the immigrant eligibility rules in specific benefit programs including the TAFDC, EAEDC and SSI cash assistance programs, the SNAP (food stamps) program, MassHealth, and other subsidized health programs and state and federal subsidized housing programs. Attendees are offered two tracks for the afternoon session: a basic track for people new to public benefit programs and immigrants, and a more advanced track with more in-depth information about benefit rules affecting immigrants. This training is for legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, and community advocates. Participants receive detailed materials.

Faculty:
Patricia J. Baker
Iris D. Gomez, Esq.
Judith Liben, Esq.
Victoria Pulos, Esq.
Teresita Ramos, Esq.
all of Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston

Click here to register

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Elder Benefits Programs
Thursday, April 13, 2017
9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

In these hard times, elders in Massachusetts depend on a variety of benefits programs to meet their income and health needs. These include income supplement programs, retirement benefits, home-based care services, and health care programs. This program provides legal services advocates, lawyers, and paralegals in private practice, social and health services workers, and community activists with an overview and basic knowledge of the resources available to elders, with an emphasis on program criteria relevant to elders and how to navigate the complexities across programs. Participants receive detailed materials.

Faculty:
Neil F. Cronin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Boston
Donna M. McCormick, Esq., Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Deborah T. Hollingworth, Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc., Springfield
Rachel S. Brown, Esq., Community Legal Aid, Worcester
Jan M. Stiefel, Esq., Community Legal Aid, Northampton
Svetlana Uimenkova, Esq., Disability Law Center, Inc., Boston

Click here to register

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