Success stories are an everyday part of life at the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc.
Here are some typical examples of the difference we make in the lives of our clients and the community:
Our Binghamton office assisted a woman in a rural area, who was suffering from severe mental health problems as a result of domestic violence and the sexual abuse of one of her children. The client had not previously felt comfortable coming forward about the abuse, but with our help, she was able to discuss it with her doctor and begin receiving crime victim’s counseling. With the doctor’s support, a staff attorney successfully avoided a workfare sanction by the local Department of Social Services, and permanently removed the client from the county welfare rolls by winning her SSI appeal. The client was awarded over $40,000 in retroactive SSI benefits, allowing her to finally have her own home and provide a college education for the child.
A woman called our Binghamton office, distraught and sobbing, stating that her husband of nearly 40 years was planning to divorce her in order to “save her life.” Upon speaking with the woman further, a Binghamton office paralegal learned that she depended on $700 worth of medications per month due to serious medical conditions. When her husband became ill as well and retired, they were told that his pension made her ineligible for prescription drug coverage. The husband saw no other choice but to get a divorce and move out of the family home. Our paralegal checked the couple’s income against a variety of programs in New York State, and helped them fill out applications. Both husband and wife now have full coverage, and continue to be happily married.
A woman and her two children, one of whom was disabled, were being wrongfully evicted from a mobile home park in the Oneonta area. If evicted, the family would have effectively lost their mobile home as well, since they could not afford to move it and had no place to move it to. In addition, the lot rent was very affordable in comparison to apartments in the area. We prevailed in court, and the landlord had to offer the woman a renewable year-to-year lease as required by state law.
Our Utica office assisted a young woman who had attempted to earn a degree in nursing, but was forced to drop out of school due to health problems. She eventually recovered, but was unable to re-enroll because her student loan was in default. We negotiated a low pay-off amount with the lender and obtained a small grant from a community agency, enabling the client to pay off the loan in full with her savings. The client is now working in the healthcare field and attending nursing school.
A man who had held a good paying job for many years had a psychiatric breakdown. As a result, he became permanently disabled and unable to go back to work. Unable to keep up with the property taxes on his home, he was heading for foreclosure. He was also being hounded by creditors, to the point that he was contemplating suicide. A Binghamton office paralegal stepped in, and was able to get his Social Security Disability appeal heard quickly due to the emergency nature of the situation. She not only won the appeal, but convinced the Administrative Law Judge to reopen a prior Social Security Disability application that had also been denied. The man was awarded over $70,000, enough to save his home and obtain relief from his debts. His ongoing monthly benefits enabled him to meet all his basic living expenses. Now, the man had a reason to go on living.