The SLS Social Security Disability Project (SSDP), the Mills Legal Clinic’s only in-house pro bono project, gives students the opportunity to work directly with local homeless and at-risk clients under the supervision of Community Law Clinic Lecturer-in-law/Supervising Attorney Lisa Douglass.
Meeting a local need
The Law School established SSDP in 2007 to respond to an urgent need in the local community. Palo Alto’s newly established homeless service center, the Opportunity Center for the Mid-peninsula, had begun to swell with individuals who were facing hearings regarding their federal disability benefits and were in need of representation. These clients came to us un-housed and with no access to consistent medical care for their disabling conditions. Now the Center is filled individuals who have stable housing, income and medical coverage, thanks to the help of SLS students. But there are many more that still need help.
SSDP volunteers help clients apply for disability benefits and need-based supplemental income through federal programs administered by the Social Security Administration. Our volunteers conduct intake interviews with new clients and help those clients file initial benefits applications or appeals. Student volunteers also request medical records from the health care providers. By accurately completing initial applications and submitting medical evidence to Social Security, student volunteers have helped numerous clients receive life-changing benefits.
When the cases cannot be resolved without a hearing, representation will continue through the Law School’s Community Law Clinic, where 2L and 3L students will represent SSDP clients at hearings before Administrative Law Judges.
Students in SSDP volunteer a total of 5-10 hours each quarter and attend a quarterly case-rounds lunch. The client sessions, called “Office Hours,” take place on Friday afternoons at the Opportunity Center, across the street from campus. Each student is expected to staff at least one session per quarter.
For more information about SSDP contact:
- Director: Lisa Douglass, Lecturer-in-law, Mills Legal Clinic, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Legal Assistant: Adelina Arroyo, email@example.com
- Project coordinators: Micah Bluming (’16), firstname.lastname@example.org, Mary Rock (’17), email@example.com, Sean McGuire (’17), firstname.lastname@example.org, George Warner (’17) email@example.com, Matthew Sellers (’17) firstname.lastname@example.org