Staff Attorney (SSI Unit– Community Disability Application Project)
CLS is seeking a staff attorney 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 at the national, state, and local levels 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 staff attorney will work closely with the Managing Attorney, CDAP paralegal, social worker, and other legal team members to develop and 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:
- Conducting a needs assessment to identify underserved, hard to reach communities who would benefit most from targeted application assistance;
- Identifying community partners in hard to reach communities and building and sustaining relationships with those partners to identify sites for community-based application assistance and/or applicant referrals;
- In partnership with the social worker, developing and conducting trainings related to SSI application processes for community partners and individuals with disabilities;
- Developing and implementing client screening, referral, and intake systems;
- Establishing a continuum of service for clients, ranging from short term application preparation to longer term advocacy throughout the full disability review process;
- In partnership with the CDAP paralegal, providing high volume individual client representation consistent with the established continuum of service;
- In partnership with other SSI Unit attorneys, representing unsuccessful applicants in later stage SSA proceedings, including in formal administrative hearings and federal court;
- Tracking and analyzing client outcomes to inform systemic advocacy, particularly at SSA Field Offices and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determinations (BDD);
- Engaging in cutting edge systemic advocacy, with particular focus on SSA Field Offices and BDD;
- Supervising the CDAP paralegal, either alone or in tandem with the Managing Attorney, depending on supervisory experience; and
Integrating pro bono legal counsel into CDAP as feasible.
This is a full-time position covered by the collective bargaining agreement between Community Legal Services, Inc. (CLS) and the Philadelphia Legal Services Union N.O.L.S.W./Local 2320/UAW. The current minimum starting salary is governed by that agreement and is subject to change according to the provisions of the current collective bargaining agreement. Raises and benefits are also governed by that agreement.
Community Legal Services, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer. CLS, Inc. does not discriminate in the selection of employees on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, genetics, age, national origin, disability, or veteran status. In addition to federal law requirements, CLS complies with all applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall and transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.
Substantive knowledge and experience in Social Security law is highly preferred but not required. The ideal candidate will have experience in direct client representation and community education as well as litigation and policy advocacy. A demonstrated history of building relationships and working collaboratively with peers and a diverse range of partners, managing a large caseload, and working independently is required. Other strongly preferred skills or traits include supervisory experience; interest and/or experience in developing and launching new programs or systems; and experience working with pro bono partners. The candidate must have a demonstrated commitment to public interest work, working with diverse populations, and racial justice.
To Apply: CLS will accept applications on a rolling basis until the position has been filled. You can submit your application on CLS’s website online at: https://clsphila.org/about-cls/available-positions/ OR https://clsphiladelphia.applytojob.com/apply/gLHDnxUKHG/SSI-Unit-Community-Disability-Application-Project-Staff-Attorney
What to Include in your application: Please include a cover letter, resume, three professional references and one brief writing sample (10 pages or less). Community Legal Services values a diverse work environment and strongly encourages women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ, people with disabilities, people who have experienced poverty or homelessness and people who have had prior contact with the juvenile, criminal, or child welfare systems to apply. CLS invites all applicants to include in their cover letter a statement about how your unique background and/or experiences might contribute to the diversity, cultural vitality, and perspective of our staff and legal services practice.