Paralegal – SSI Unit – (Community Disability Application Project)
CLS is seeking a paralegal for its SSI Unit’s new Community Disability Application Project (CDAP), to be launched in Fall 2019. The SSI Unit helps individuals with serious disabilities qualify for and keep Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). CDAP will assist individuals with disabilities in hard to reach communities with initial applications for SSI disability benefits.
SSI is a core Social Security program that provides income support to adults aged 65 and over and individuals at any age with severe disabilities. CLS’s SSI Unit provides full legal representation to individuals with disabilities at all stages of the SSI application process, including during informal state-level disability reviews, at formal administrative hearings, and in federal court. The Unit also represents current SSI recipients whose disabilities are under review by SSA. CLS prioritizes cases for individuals who have significant barriers in navigating SSA processes, including individuals with serious behavioral health conditions, including trauma; individuals who are limited English proficient; and children. CLS ensures that clients are connected to medical care, school supports, and other resources, and advocates for policy reforms that improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
In recent years, CLS’s SSI Unit has focused its legal representation on clients who have been denied or cut off of SSI benefits, but in Fall 2019, the SSI Unit will begin assisting individuals with disabilities in hard-to-reach communities with initial SSI applications. The CDAP paralegal will work closely with the CDAP staff attorney to launch CDAP, so that individuals with disabilities who qualify for SSI benefits will have greater success in the initial application phase, and not face denials and subsequent appeal periods that carry delays of two years or more.
Core job functions are expected to include:
- Building and sustaining relationships with community partners in hard to reach communities, to identify sites for application assistance and/or applicant referrals;
- In partnership with the social worker and CDAP staff attorney, developing and conducting trainings related to SSI application processes for community partners and individuals with disabilities;
- Under the supervision of the CDAP staff attorney, providing high volume legal assistance in applying for SSI disability benefits to clients in hard to reach communities, ranging from short term application preparation to longer term advocacy throughout the full disability review process;
- Tracking and analyzing client outcomes to determine if further legal representation is necessary, and to inform systemic advocacy to improve the SSI application process for all applicants; and
- Supporting pro bono legal counsel as feasible.
- Required qualifications: High School Diploma or GED. Excellent oral and written communication skills; dependability; initiative; patience; commitment to working with diverse populations and individuals with disabilities; and commitment to racial justice. Willingness to work some nights and weekends, with compensatory and flexible schedule arrangements subject to approval by the Managing Attorney. Ability to travel within Philadelphia (via public transportation).
- Preferred qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in a related field or Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies. Experience with a social services agency or a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of the poor. Experience in community organizing or case management. Fluency in writing and speaking a language other than English.