Written by Jennifer Mezey

Dec 28


COVID Relief Is Finally Coming: While Not Nearly Enough, Recent Federal Legislation Provides Support and Protections for Our Client Community

The Coronavirus Response And Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 (the COVID relief legislation just passed by Congress and signed by the President) will provide some much-needed assistance in areas of importance to our client community.  Legal Aid is pleased that our clients (most of whom are Black and Brown, and have therefore disproportionately suffered from the economic and health burdens of this pandemic) will finally receive some relief from the federal government after far too many months of inaction and additional delays in recent days leading to the loss of unemployment benefits for millions nationwide.

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Jun 01


Federal Court Issues Preliminary Injunction in Food Stamps Class Action

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction against the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS) requiring it to comply with strict federal time frames for processing applications to recertify eligibility for food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Court ordered this extraordinary remedy after finding that the agency’s own data showed that it failed to process 40 percent of SNAP renewal applications within the time period mandated by federal law. Although the Court declined, at this time, to order a preliminary injunction against DHS based on its delays in processing initial applications, it nevertheless ordered the agency to submit reports about its progress in this area, stating that injunctive relief might be appropriate in the absence of improvement. Read more →

Jul 28


Relief for Now (But the Fight to Protect Medicaid Continues)

It should never have come to it in the first place, but this morning’s dramatic vote in the Senate ensures that the Affordable Care Act expansion of coverage to millions of Americans will continue.  And millions of those Americans get this coverage through Medicaid which will celebrate its 52nd anniversary on Sunday. Read more →

Nov 15


Legal Aid And Whitman Walker Coordinate Annual Part D Clinics

Since 2006, Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker Health have been helping thousands of Medicare beneficiaries navigate the complex prescription drug program known as Medicare Part D. The 2016 Medicare Part D open enrollment season is now underway. This means that Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker Health are again offering Medicare Part D clinics, as we have done for the past ten years, at our NW and SE offices, as well as at each of the Bread for the City locations in NW and SE. Read more →

Dec 11


NYT Article Confirms Ongoing Medicaid Service Gaps

According to a recent New York Times article, in a survey of 32 states, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that half of the providers surveyed (who were listed as participating with one of the state’s Medicaid managed care plans) could not offer appointments to enrollees. Of these providers, one-third were no longer at the listed location; another 8 percent did not participate with the listed health plan; and another 8 percent were not accepting new Medicaid patients. Read more →

Jun 11


Unemployment Victory for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Updated June 17, 2014: This case is discussed in today’s Washington Post.

Updated June 18, 2014: It has also been covered by an article posted today on ThinkProgress.

In a case of first impression, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision on June 6, 2014, awarding full unemployment benefits to our client who was fired after repeated incidents of domestic violence that interfered with her workplace.

The case, E.C. v. RCM of Washington, Inc., clarifies when a job loss is “due to domestic violence,” under the 2004 domestic violence provision of the D.C. Unemployment Compensation Act (amended in 2010). The court held that the provision should be interpreted broadly to protect victims when domestic violence was a “substantial factor” in their job loss. In reaching this conclusion, the court recognized that victims of domestic violence often exhibit behaviors that, while intended to placate their abusers, may simultaneously undermine certain employer codes of conduct. Read more →

May 23


Legal Aid and DCFPI Report Decries Benefit Access Barriers, Proposes Solutions

Closing-the-Gap-Final_001Yesterday, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) issued a new, comprehensive report on the barriers in D.C. to the accessibility of major safety net benefits. Entitled, “Closing the Gap Between Policy and Reality: Preventing Wrongful Denials and Terminations of Public Benefits in the District of Columbia,” the report tells the stories of low-income individuals and families who were unable to apply for or lost critical benefits due to the problems they encountered at Economic Security Administration (ESA) Service Centers. This report builds on longstanding advocacy by Legal Aid and our partner organizations to ensure that the District’s longstanding commitment to progressive public benefits eligibility policies are not thwarted by access barriers. Read more →

May 22


NYC Lawsuit Tackles Bias in Disability Appeals

Mezey.RAGLEPHOTO_0154_11780Drake HagnerA small group of individuals with disabilities in Queens, New York fought back against judicial bias in the Social Security disability appeals process – and won. A recent article, published by the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, tells their story and highlights the important systemic reforms they achieved. Read more →

Apr 25


Stefanie Doebler to Receive Legal Aid’s Klepper Prize

On Tuesday, April 29, in addition to recognizing our Servant of Justice Honorees who we featured on our blog on Wednesday and Thursday, Legal Aid will be presenting the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence to Stefanie Doebler of Covington and Burling LLP. Created through the generosity of Martin and Arlene Klepper, the Klepper Prize recognizes attorneys early in their careers who have made significant volunteer contributions to Legal Aid.
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Dec 05


Legal Aid and Partners Launch D.C. Health Care Information Website

Regular readers of this blog have seen a great deal about implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the District of Columbia. The District’s “Exchange” – that is, its online portal through which you can apply for Medicaid, shop for a private health insurance plan and determine if you are eligible for financial assistance with a private plan – is called DC Health Link. From all accounts we have received, the website appears to be going strong.

But with all of the buzz about how to purchase private plans on, some in the DC community are concerned that people with public health insurance through Medicaid, Medicare and the DC Alliance might be confused about the impact of the ACA on them.  Read more →